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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3,352
  • 4 Stars
    1,589
  • 3 Stars
    443
  • 2 Stars
    104
  • 1 Stars
    58

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3,226
  • 4 Stars
    1,170
  • 3 Stars
    278
  • 2 Stars
    35
  • 1 Stars
    34

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,930
  • 4 Stars
    1,266
  • 3 Stars
    408
  • 2 Stars
    93
  • 1 Stars
    62
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed it before, loved it now

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Solid Middle Book

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.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • G
  • 10-18-14

OK, but worse ending in the history of fiction

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gwen
  • novato, CA, USA
  • 06-13-10

Poeticly Written

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.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Griffin, GA, United States
  • 04-30-12

Utterly Frustrating

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.

RRRRGGHHH!!!!

22 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 03-16-18

Sustains the Good Work of the First Book

I’ll repeat my earlier conclusion in this, the second of Hobb’s Farseer trilogy: after George R.R. Martin, she is the most capable person writing in this slice of the fantasy genre. She has a clear vision of the world she’s describing, she has the ability to move a plot forward (though, given the constraints of the way the genre is marketed, she does so very slowly), and she has a sense of deep detail. When you read her stuff, you get a sense of the very specific economy of the seven duchies. You see what it means to run a stable, to make and market your scented candles, or to learn the hard lessons of how to fight. Many of her competitors try, but they fall far short of what she accomplishes. She runs on, but she does so in a careful survey of the world she’s invented.

On top of that, in this volume particularly, she is using her “system of magic” (a term I don’t like since it treats something potentially wondrous like an algebra problem) to explore a legitimate, human question: to what extent are we “selves” in the sense of being locked in our own experience, and to what extent are we connected to others who are sorting out what it means to be alive.

One of the magics in play here, the wit, is precisely that. It’s an extra sense that allows you to know what animals are experiencing. In its extreme form, it means “bonding” to an animal, making an alliance with a creature very different from yourself and thereafter seeing the world through two sets of senses.

Hobb is at her best and most compelling here when she brings that material out. The scenes where Fitz comes to bond with his wolf, Night Eyes, are among the best. Hobb avoids the easy way of describing it, avoids the notion that getting to see through a wolf’s eyes is somehow an addition to oneself. Instead, she makes clear that it exacts a price. It’s too much like love, too close to giving ones full self over, to be something that is merely empowering.

We get the voice of Burrich who knows to fear the wit, who knows the potential for it to turn a man into an animal. Fitz insists he’s wrong, but we see enough to know that Burrich has a point. Giving that much of yourself to anyone – even in the more conventional sense of dedicating oneself to king or country – is somehow wrong. I almost used the word “sinful,” but that’s not quite right. The concept is more fundamental, more a matter of deep gut instinct than any larger system of ethics.

We get a parallel concern in the way ‘the skill’ works. At its best, in the hands of Prince Verity, it allows someone to send his or her strength to others. (It also allows someone to beguile another, but Verity makes clear that such magic isn’t to his taste, even as he spends much of the book practicing it.) It lets you give of yourself to others in ways that simultaneously deplete you. For Verity, it’s also about love, loving his subjects, but it’s wearing him out.

So, with those kinds of ideas in play and the rich detail that Hobb gives, this middle book in the trilogy sustains the strong work of the first book. I can’t entirely forgive what seems like unnecessary slowness, but I did find myself caught up in the action as Fitz found himself going up against Regal and his coterie.

If you don’t care for the genre – and there is enough silliness inherent in it that I get your concern – this isn’t the one to start with. If you’ve enjoyed Game of Thrones, though, this is better than any of the dozens of door-stopper imitators and wannabes I’m aware of.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Honestly cannot stand Fitz

Fitz as protagonist drives me insane, nearly everything about him and his actions annoy me to no end. Compared to others rogues or assassins he is joke. It really took what could be a good story and ruined it for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A Tale of Drudge & Misery With No Payoff

Might this author think her prose so worthy that she may soe her seeds of death and misery with nary a coin for the Birdman? I dislike authors who think to distinguish themselves by writing endless tales of death and hardship. After two books, I simply cannot afford to invest anymore time in this woesome prattle... Reeks of Game of Thrones misery without the pomp and circumstance...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Good writing, terrible story.

It's boring and stupendously frustrating listening to these handful of characters make stupid decisions and be overcome by such a stupid villain character. I deleted this book after seeing there was still 11 hours to go because I just couldn't stand it anymore.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Well crafted characters but everything else is awful.

Hobb does an excellent job of creating interesting fleshed out characters. However, the plot and story do those characters no service.

This is a very very long book and yet, in a way, almost nothing happens in it. There are some important events but Hobb is more concerned with the daily lives and slow changes in the relationships of her characters than with the attempted usurpation of the throne the story is ostensibly about. This is a huge problem because while those relationships can be interesting for a time it eventually becomes clear that everything that goes wrong is because of the good characters' inaction. The main character knows what the villain's plan is and throughout the story either chooses to do nothing to stop it or is told to do nothing by his superiors. So when bad things happen it was impossible for me to feel bad for him because he'd done nothing to prevent them.

This book is awful from all points but one. The characters. But if the villain wins because of the main characters staggering incompetence and an utter lack of attempts to stop him, good characters are not a saving grace. I turned on them long before the story ended because of their stupidity and refusal to do event the slightest thing to hinder the villain. I only completed the book out of obligation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful