Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Assassin's Quest

by Robin Hobb

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At the start of Assassin's Quest Fitz is barely human, after surviving physical and mental assaults at the hands of his half-uncle's forces. His situation is more dire than it's ever been. Many of his friends believe he is dead, his king has disappeared, and Regal is in control of the Six Duchies.

Once again the story is introduced by an older Fitz, which is a slight spoiler in itself. But the state of his older self raises questions of its own, since he talks about his pains he's vague about what exactly is hurting him so much.

Fitz has a lot to recover from, and his rehabilitation takes some time. However there's a building sense of urgency, as the Red Ships raid further and further into Six Duchies territory. Verity is somewhere hundreds of miles away and Fitz has no idea whether he's in danger, or any nearer to completing his quest to obtain the help of the Elderlings. Nor does Fitz have much idea of the whereabouts of Kettricken and the Fool. Regal is stepping up his persecution of certain groups, whilst at the same time more or less abandoning the coastal duchies to their own fates.

In Assassin's Quest Fitz is put through an almost absurd number of trials, and all the while death seems to be no further away than a single error of judgement. Yet it's all made believable by Robin Hobb's skill and attention to detail, making fantastic situations seem very credible. This is a long novel even by the standards of epic fantasy, and it pulls the reader in for the entire duration. Prepare for some insomnia, since it's very tempting to read just another page, and another, until you lose all track of time.

The third book introduces a couple of new characters, a tight-lipped old woman called Kettle and the considerably more talkative minstrel, Starling. They're interesting enough, but even more of a treat is the increased role the Fool plays in this book. He's just as sharp-tongued, cheeky and mysterious as ever, and a welcome contrast to the melancholy and overly serious Fitz.

The Farseer Trilogy is based in a traditional medieval-style fantasy world, and it's a setting that has been thoroughly explored by hosts of authors. Yet Robin Hobb's take on it is always fresh. In this trilogy the author poses a question: is who we are the sum of our memories?

Towards the end of this novel the plot veers towards the strange, as Fitz travels to unusual places and is beset by ghosts, Skill-cravings, and a blurring of the boundaries between past and present, fantasy and reality, and even between self and other. But things never become so odd that they can't be resolved and explained, and in fact the ending brings a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Assassin's Quest is a like a potent and addictive tonic.

Book Details

Decade: 1990s

Categories: Books

  Fantasy
    Male Protagonist  

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Robin Hobb