With unforgettable characters, a sweeping backdrop, and passionate storytelling, this is a fantasy debut to rival that of Robert Jordan. Filled with adventure and bloodshed, pageantry and piracy, mystery and menace, Assassin's Apprentice is the story of a royal house and the young man who is destined to chart its course through tempests of change. Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal household by his father's gruff stableman. An outcast whose existence has forced his father to abdicate his claim on the throne, Fitz is ignored by all royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in the young man's blood is a heritage of magic, the talent called the Skill, as well as another, even more mysterious ability.
As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts and leave behind the zombie-like husks of the townspeople to prowl the countryside, Fitz is growing toward manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission, a mission that poses as much a threat to himself as it does for his target---for Fitz is a threat to the throne...but he may also be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
©1999 Robin Hobb (P)2010 Tantor
“Intriguing, controlled, and remarkably assured...at once satisfyingly self-contained yet leaving plenty of scope for future extensions and embellishments.” (Kirkus)
This is a solid high (but not epic) fantasy that has garnered quite a following, and not without good reason. It is very well developed and written. I wouldn't say there are a lot of new ideas here; the magic system is pretty subdued and the plot is all political intrigue. The biggest thing for me to get used to was the naming system; characters are named after traits they are desired to have, such as Chivalry and Regal and Verity.
Many reviewers have commented, and it is indeed quite true. This book is boring at times, even in audio. It's not that it is poorly written or a well developed plot. It just simply isn't that exciting. You have to be willing to follow the story of yet another hero who starts out as a punt, ignorant boy who has much to learn about the world. For some people this probably never gets old, but I prefer authors such as Brandon Sanderson whose heroes already start out fully developed.
Most of the main character's problems would have been solved or never would have occurred if people would simple hag told him what he needed to koror that they assumed he already knew. Indeed, the main character's ignorance seems to be the main antagonist for much of this story.
The narrator did a great job and fit the part perfectly; no complaints there at all.
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!
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.
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