Science fiction and fantasy
by Robin Hobb
Fitz's birth and discovery are enough to make political waves. He is very lonely in a court where he doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. In the town he befriends some of the beggar children, but he isn't one of them. And at the keep there are those who consider him to be a threat and an obstacle to their ambitions.
Fortunately for Fitz, King Shrewd has a role for him, and he sees to the young man's education. Fitz is to become a royal assassin, under the tutelage of the mysterious old Chade. There's plenty for him to do in a court that's ripe with intrigue, and Fitz has little choice but to do it. Because if he is found to be useless, or a threat to those in power, his own life will be forfeit.
As all this takes place, the kingdom of the Six Duchies comes under attack by the Red Ship Raiders. They have been raiding coastal villages, taking hostages and making strange demands. They want a ransom to kill the hostages. Those who refuse to pay face subjecting their loved ones to a fate worse than death. A climate of fear takes over the country, as these events lead to political unrest and divisions between the coastal regions that are under attack, and the safer inland areas.
Assassin's Apprentice is an intricate story which follows Fitz's formative years. Although it starts without much urgency it gradually builds suspense and pace to the point where it's easy to become totally absorbed in Fitz's shady world. This is a straightforward medieval-style fantasy which focuses on strong characters and good storytelling. The result is a dose of pure reading pleasure.
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Review © Ros Jackson
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