Young Fitz, the illegitimate son of the noble Prince Chivalry, is ignored by all royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has had him tutored him in the dark arts of the assassin. He has barely survived his first, soul-shattering mission, and when he returns to the court, he is thrown headfirst into the tumult of royal life.
With the king near death, and Fitz's only ally off on a seemingly hopeless quest, the throne itself is threatened.
Meanwhile, the treacherous Red Ship Raiders have renewed their attacks on the Six Duchies, slaughtering the inhabitants of entire seaside towns. In this time of great peril, it soon becomes clear that the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz's hands - and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.
©1999 Robin Hobb (P)2010 Tantor
“Hobb manages to create a kingdom that looks like a fairy tale but feels like the real world---which makes it almost impossible not to become immersed in Hobb's fantasy epic.” (Publishers Weekly)
I have read the whole trilogy before (a few times) and enjoyed the books. I definitely loved listening to the first two books of this series and hope that the third one also gets picked up by Audible. Fitz is so endearing to the listener that you cannot help but get lost in the story.
The problem with writing an entire book from a single perspective is that if the character fails to notice/understand something the reader does there is usually very little excuse for it besides stupidity/thickness. The reader possesses little or no outside knowledge but the character fails to make connections - this can become frustrating. Part of the problem is, I think, the reader (or perhaps the tone of the narrator, who is the main character but older) - it makes it hard to remember the character's age and lack of experience. That said, if you can keep your perspective this probably wont bother you too much.
This book has a great deal of plot development, but manages to leave us completely up in the air as to what direction the next book will take. As many questions are answered as generated. The romantic angle is hit especially hard - I was expecting the typical cycle of "fall in love, discover its doomed, succeed despite the odds and live happily ever after" but its more like "fall in love, doomed, more doomed, miracle, seriously doomed, screw it we're doing it anyway, DOOM, all is lost, oh look there are other girls, oh wait maybe not..." - poor guy gets the rug pulled out from under him over and over and over. The romantic angle is never my favorite, but at least this one has some variation (and I'm pretty sure its 90% done with for this series).
All in all this is a fairly massive setup for the third book, all the stages are set for something to happen - I just have no idea what.
I listened for the full 29+ hours. I could do so easily because Ms. Hobb is a good writer. The fantasy world she expertly crafted held my attention as i waited for the promising story to unfold, but it never really did. I like long form fantasy but holy crap the story should move a little. If you like a book that is 90% palace intrigue this is for you. If you think 29 hours of listening should be rewarded with story proggression you will be disappointed. The ending is surprising, but so is catching an STD from your spouse. Surprise does not always equal good and this one was a real dog. I bought two of her books on sale for $5.95 so I have another in this series waiting. The six bucks will easier to throw away that another 20+ hours of listening with no reward in the end. I am not sure if i will ever get around to listening to it.
This series has been one of my favorites for years. I have read them over and over again. It is a joy to listen to one of my old favorites while doing chores around the house or cooking in the kitchen. The writing, to me, it beautiful, the characters poetically described. I love these books.
Soooo... you're an assassin. You've been trained to be both invisible and deadly. Not only are you an animal with a hand-axe, you've also got the ability to talk with wolves, dogs, horses, and whatever animal you wish. You swear loyalty to a prince, and watch as his ambitious younger brother connives to murder their father, usurp your prince's crown, bring ruination to his wife's reputation and sit idly by while evil magic pirates turn your citizenry into zombies (I know, right?)
BUT HERE'S THE THING! Nobody, and I mean, NOBODY, tells you to kill him. In fact, everyone says, for some reason, that killing him is the one thing you absolutely cannot do. Ever. Full stop. Even if, say, you're an incredibly skilled assassin and can make it seem like he died of dysentery, tuberculosis, a venereal disease, or (right, I can talk to animals) being mauled by a bear, YOU CAN'T KILL HIM JUST BECAUSE.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. Even though you, your friends, your king, your assassination teacher, the court jester and the horse trainer all KNOW that he deserves to die in a cosmic justice kind of sense, and they all KNOW that he NEEDS to die in a sort of "let's save the townfolk from becoming magic-pirate zombies" way, they SWEAR they'll betray every single one of your secrets or abandon you completely if you so much as raise a hand to the task. What's more is they keep asking you to save them from whatever dumb mistakes THEY'VE made in the past.
So instead of saying, "Chill out, guys, I'll take the fall for this one. When the new prince takes power, he can pardon me of my crimes or whatever. Or he can exile me. No biggs," you go along with it. All of it. With only a minimal amount of frustration and anger. Simply a morose acceptance of "that's how things are."
Tell me that this is the way things would actually go down. Do it. Tell me. I am OKAY with gritty realism in fantasy. I am OKAY with morally gray characters. I'm hip with Banks, KJ Parker, and Joe Abercrombie. I get it. I do. But when EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER on the side of good (which totally and unquestionably EXISTS in this tale) acts like a complete LOON. Well, then, you have given me ample reason to never finish this series.
This was part of an epic tale. I loved the characters and how they were interwoven into the story
I listened to this and book 3 while travelling. I loved it and it made the long drive much more enjoyable. Almost couldn't stop for gas because I would have to pause the story.
I liked this book better than the first book. It had a better story and less filler. Only one more in the series and I hope it gets even better.
The characters come to life in this 2nd book and seem more alive and interesting. Easier to follow the story in this 2nd book.
This story is well written and thoughtfully crafted. The characters stand out holding mystery, and intention within their structure. It was a ride that I trusted to take me beyond my limits.
The Catalyst and the Prophet. Love declared and love love lost. Such and adventure in time and in spells is well worth the investment of my precious time.
The narration is supple and spins this dream effortlessly.
It is perfect.
I am sorry Audible does not have the next sequel at this time..
Despite a not so good narration, this was way better than the first book. The ending was awesome and unexpected, and made me excited to read the next book. The hero really comes out in this one.
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