Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Review: Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb

Assassin's Fate by Robin HobbAssassin's Fate by Robin Hobb (borrowed) - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series, and the series that come before. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series/the other series set in The Realm of the Elderlings and don't want it spoilt for you.

The final book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy.

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer’s daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield great power. With Fitz in pursuit, the Servants fled through a Skill-pillar, leaving no trace. It seems certain that they and their young hostage have perished in the Skill-river.

Clerres, where White Prophets were trained by the Servants to set the world on a better path, has been corrupted by greed. Fitz is determined to reach the city and take vengeance on the Four, not only for the loss of Bee but also for their torture of the Fool. Accompanied by FitzVigilant, son of the assassin Chade, Chade’s protégé Spark and the stableboy Perseverance, Bee's only friend, their journey will take them from the Elderling city of Kelsingra, down the perilous Rain Wild River, and on to the Pirate Isles.

Their mission for revenge will become a voyage of discovery, as well as of reunions, transformations and heartrending shocks. Startling answers to old mysteries are revealed. What became of the liveships Paragon and Vivacia and their crews? What is the origin of the Others and their eerie beach? How are liveships and dragons connected?

But Fitz and his followers are not the only ones with a deadly grudge against the Four. An ancient wrong will bring them unlikely and dangerous allies in their quest. And if the corrupt society of Clerres is to be brought down, Fitz and the Fool will have to make a series of profound and fateful sacrifices.

ASSASSIN’S FATE is a magnificent tour de force and with it Robin Hobb demonstrates yet again that she is the reigning queen of epic fantasy.
From Goodreads.

What to say? Where to start? There's so much I want to say, and so little of it I actually can, because of spoilers. So much happens in Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb, so much. It's the final book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, but it's also the concluding book in the overarching story of The Realm of the Elderlings; the 16th book, and the story is now complete. And so this may be more love letter to Fitz and the Fool rather than a normal review. It was absolutely perfect, but I am absolutely devastated.

I grew up with these books, I grew up with Fitz. I read Assassin's Apprentice, the first book in the Farseer Trilogy, the very first trilogy, back when I was a teenager. I'm now 30. There have been rereads, and of course there will be rereads again, but there will never be another story with Fitz and the Fool and I can't tell you the depth of my feelings knowing that. I always feel a sense of loss when a series comes to an end, knowing I will never get to read a story with those characters again, but with Assassin's Fate, there's an even greater loss, because they have been with me for so long. It's the oddest thing, because they're fictional characters, but they're both as dear to me as any friend, and this really feels like a bereavement.

But as I said, Assassin's Fate is perfect. The title had me thinking this was going to be the very last book; "fate", in this instance, has a feeling of foreboding about it, and I was scared before I even started. Fitz's fate wasn't quite what I expected, and I'm both grateful and saddened by it. But besides the title, as I read through this story, there were more signs that this would be the final book; the reappearance of characters from the other series. We get to see  Althea and Brashen again, along with Paragon and Vivacia. We see Thymara, Tats, Malta and Reyn briefly, Rapskal, Leftrin and Alise more so. The Fool spends most of his time as Amber, as that's how the Rain Wild folk know her. With the reappearance of these characters, I felt sure it was a sign that this book would be the last; we get to catch up with them, see what's happening in their lives, and are given, I thought, the opportunity to say goodbye.

There was a part of me that wondered if this was maybe self-serving for Hobb, as much as I loved seeing them again; this is the end, so let's bring them back, one more time. I was wrong though. Each and every character has an important role in this story. Their own stories aren't complete yet. There's more to come for them as well as Fitz and the Fool as they quest to try and reach Clerres and have their vengeance for stealing Bee and torturing the Fool. All of the threads, and the tiny loose ends I never even noticed scattered through the other series, are all tied up. What was wonderful was how interlinked all their stories are. Of course, each series was affected, somewhat, by the series before, and sure, the this becomes more apparent as the series go on - the Rainwild Chronicles is a direct result of what happened in The Liveship Traders trilogy. But with Assassin's Fate, you can see the thread - the path - that ties them altogether. The Fool felt his task as the White Prophet was complete in Fool's Fate, that he had brought about the future, the true Path he set out to do - bringing dragons back to the world. And although he saw no future beyond his death, that he never saw Fitz bringing him back, the fact that he did come back brought other possible futures into play, and what happened to him and what he does after, fulfills his task even further. No spoilers, but it was just so fantastic to see everything come into alignment; seeing how everything that happened in the series before led to this, this final ending. It was beautiful, but also shows Hobb's immense talent; 16 books, over 20 years in the making, and all with a plan to come to this final book. It's huge. It's bigger than Harry Potter. All that foresight to create a 16 book story. It's just immense, and I'm in such awe of Hobb and the wonder she has created in all of these pages.

But now it's finished, and it's the end. Could Hobb write more set in this world? I think it's doable, but it would be a completely different story, focusing on different characters. Do I think Hobb will actually write any more set in this world? No. I think this is it. Fitz and the Fool's story, their task as White Prophet and Catalyst, has reached it's final conclusion. There is a part of me that would love for more books set in the Realm of the Elderlings, to see what happens for certain characters next, but there's another part of me who knows it won't be the same. I wish I could explain, I wish I could go into my thoughts and feelings about the ending, I wish I could just talk about it. What I can say is that I love these books. I love Fitz and the Fool, and I'm so sad to see their story come to an end. But I am so grateful to have had these characters and their story enrich my life as I grew up. I'm upset beyond words at having to say goodbye, but I can always revisit them. My heart has broken, and I am not ok, but it's a very fitting end for characters so dearly loved.

Thank you, Robin Hobb, for these characters, their stories, and your words.

Add to Goodreads

Published: 4th May 2017
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Robin Hobb's Website

My other reviews from the series:
Fool's Assassin (Fitz and the Fool Book 1 - Realm of the Elderlings Series 5)
Fool's Quest (Fitz and the Fool Book 2 - Realm of the Elderlings Series 5)

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