Series: The Fitz and the Fool #1
Published by Del Rey, Harper Voyager on August 12 2014
Genres: Adult Fiction, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository
FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.
Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.
Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one...
Robin Hobb is one of the authors that properly got me into epic fantasy. Right from the mid-nineties with Assassin’s Apprentice, she’s been one of my favourite authors and I have a rather large portion of shelf space devoted to her books. It’s been quite a long time since I read the Tawny Man trilogy, the final book of which was released back in 2003, but reading this new one felt like putting on a pair of comfy old shoes. It was really nice to catch up with old friends again.
I wouldn’t recommend starting here though – earlier events are referenced all the time and I imagine a new reader would be quite bewildered by it all. If you’re new here, go read Assassin’s Apprentice and on from there. You won’t regret it.
FitzChivalry Farseer is living a comfortable life with his sweetheart Molly, hiding in plain sight as Holder Tom Badgerlock. Robin Hobb has shown her mastery here by turning a story that for the most part is about ordinary everyday life over a period of years in a country holding into a gripping tale that kept the pages turning. There’s a lot less of the political intrigue and action of earlier stories and a lot more of general life going on, which in its own way is emotionally devastating (no spoilers).
Fitz has always been Hobb’s favourite punching bag, and the punches don’t stop in Fool’s Assassin, although they’re more of a psychological nature. His relationships with each supporting character is what makes this story truly amazing. I have taken off one star though, as I remember Fitz being more ahead of the game – a couple of times during this I knew what was going on way before he did, and I didn’t like that. I hope Fitzy gets back into the groove before too long in the second book!
I don’t want to say too much about the story without giving away spoilers, but there is a second narrator to this story, introduced part-way through. It’s a little different from the norm with Fitz books but in this case, works really well.
As I’ve said, Fool’s Assassin progresses at quite a slow pace through most of the book until about the last 100 pages. It felt more like the first part of a much longer story, with the extended exposition setting everything up before the action really starts. The ending had me on the edge of my seat and filled with dread, and ended on a massive cliffhanger. Bring on the next book!
– A fantastic start to a new trilogy, if a little slow at times. Old fans of Fitz and the Fool should enjoy it!