This is an intelligent and engaging book that appeals to the adult fantasy readers/listeners. But as opposed to those like George RR Martin, who have a lot of graphic content not appropriate for kids, this has none of that. I am so glad that Robin Hobb doesn't see that as necessary for a good tale. It is just as good as these others, but without the unnecessary baggage. Highly recommended!
I ended up buying all three books, and I enjoyed them, but it was really hard to like this hero. He is not much of an assassin. The only assassinations he does are by poisoning and those are mostly zombies, and he feels guilty about it. He kills in self defense and feels guilty about it. He doesn't take out the really bad people, even though everyone knows they are the really bad people and he would have saved thousands of lives and endless suffering if he had poisoned them too, because of some promise he made... but mostly because it would end the story too soon.
He has magic ability he doesn't want to use and doubts himself constantly and really hates himself... but ends up saving the kingdom anyway... and gets little credit for it. He spends a large chunk of the third book on a useless quest, and all the while he is thinking (and I was thinking) this is a bad idea. And it was.
Conan he is not. He is more like Conan's half-witted baby sister.
Despite all that, the plot was good, the world was rich, and the narration was very good. There is magic and herbology and animal kinship woven in here. I enjoyed it overall. I just wish the main character had more backbone.
Fantasy is not my favorite genre. I do not like Tolkein or dragon-y stories. I do, however, like coming of age stories, stories of kids growing into roles or powers they were unaware they had, stories with social/political issues to be dealt with and stories with a hero fighting for good against evil. Star Wars, for example.
Ok, so now that you know what I like, I can say that this was a beautifully written book with a contrived world that is believable and very well-drawn characters that you really care about.. There are no faeries, elves or dragons or creatures. There is no magic but there is a power that these humans have that we don't, IF they can learn to tap into it. There are issues about power and politics aplenty. There is not a lot of action in this story. I saw one reviewer noted that it was therefore boring but to me the interpersonal relationships were the story. So, if you're looking for adventure and swashbuckling, look elsewhere.
The narrator is good enough. He didn't vary his voice much between characters and so sometimes I had difficulty telling who was speaking, but the authors writing always cleared that up really fast, as if it were written for such confusing audio issues, but it was not, of course. The narrator brings the right emotions in, the right pauses and sighs in...you know, just that extra touch that brings the story to life. The voice is of a much older man than the boy, pre-teen and teen in the story, but it is written as the character is reflecting back on this time from an older point of view, so it works.
Overall, solid writing, enjoyable listen.
Mostly use audio books in planes these days. Know I really like a book when I find myself with earphones still on from home to hotel
I really liked this first book and performance. Well conceived universe that was somewhat contained in size and scope. The main character spends much of book 1 as a child/youth. The unfortunate BUT is books 2 and 3 become unbearably inconsistent and leave you wanting to slap the main character half the time for being so dense and stupid.
I'm just finishing the first book, and it's great. It has the same narrator as Brent Weeks Night Angel Trilogy, who does an amazing job. I became a huge fan of Robin Hobb years ago with the Farseer trilogy and now it's an audio book, awesome!
Overall, I was very much unimpressed by this book, and its sequels.
A friend (ahem, former friend) recommended this trilogy of books as a "great modern, fantasy series." So I'm ashamed to say that I've read the entire trilogy. I was promised each book gets better and better. They did not.
I'll say this for Robin Hobb, she writes beautifully and sets a grand stage.
...in regard to execution, however....
I'm sorry to say that the story is simply bland. We have an assassin, exquisitely trained, with little to lose, who does so very, very little! Virtually nothing!
In addition, you'll be presented with an ever-present storyline where the protagonist and his allies encounter obvious opposition and betrayal from among their own - and do nothing! The story paints the protagonists as perfectly equipped to deal harsh justice to the antagonists, but they do nothing over the course of three books!
'Suspension of disbelief' can only be applied to plot mechanisms, not the human nature of the characters.
I recommend you give this one a pass unless you're stranded on a desert island.
I was pleasantly surprised by this author. I was looking for a new series and tried her as an experiment. I hoped for the best and was not disappointed. The story was slow to build tension but the main character was easy to sympathize with. At first I thought the story was too slow but by the end of the book I was having trouble turning off the iPod. Give her a try. I think you'll like her.
For a trilogy with the word 'Assassin' in the title, it's quite deceptive. The hero is whiny and lacks courage, and the fact that he's an assassin has very little to do with the story, nor is he good at being an assassin. The story is decent but tends to drag on at times, with the hero constantly weary and in a state of woe. There are many good characters in this book, but the hero is the least inspiring. I would have given 2.5 stars if possible.
Average and predictable.
Decent character voices.
I would rent it, but not pay theatre price.
Be prepared to constantly expect something around the corner that never comes.