Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Royal Assassin

by Robin Hobb


At the start of this novel Fitz is once more looking over his life, and wondering what good magic ever did for him. He's able to use the taboo Wit magic, and to a small extent Skill magic as a result of his Farseer blood, but he's learning that both types come with a high price. Using the Skill is like an addiction, whilst the Wit is considered abhorrent by most, and its use can incur heavy penalties.

Fitz is hemmed in on every side in many aspects of his life. He wants to serve king and country, but at the same time he believes Prince Regal will make an attempt on his life. Yet to attack or even speak ill of Regal is considered treasonous. Fitz is weakened and left prone to fits as a result of his last poisoning. He is in love, but in his position he isn't free to court and marry who he pleases, and he has to ask the king's permission.

Not even Fitz's thoughts are safe, since there are other people who can use magic to read his mind unless he can learn to block them. Robin Hobb sets up a claustrophobic in the court of King Shrewd, a court that's beset by suspicions of treachery from within, in a country that's under attack from the Red Ship Raiders whenever the weather is mild. The king himself is ailing, and Fitz suspects foul play but is unable to prove it.

The attacks on the Six Duchies are causing unrest, as the kingdom struggles to maintain its defences. The Fool holds out a sliver of hope by hinting at stories of the Elderlings, although who they are and what they look like are details that have been lost to history.

Royal Assassin focuses on intrigue and politics, and with a new Queen-In_Waiting there's a lot going on. There's also a smattering of romance in this novel, and this is handled in a delicate and subtle way rather than anything raunchy. It's a story with lots of threads and a cast of strong characters, an epic without a wasted line in all of its long telling. It's a chunky doorstop of a novel, but from the first line to the last it will have you hooked and fully immersed in Hobb's world. It doesn't matter that fantasy epics based around royalty are not uncommon, because Royal Assassin stands far above most of this genre thanks to the personality of its characters, the vivid detail with which the author has depicted their lives, and its constant edge of suspense and mystery.

Book Details

Decade: 1990s

Categories: Books

    Male Protagonist  

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5 star rating

Review © Rosalind Jackson
More about Robin Hobb