Science fiction and fantasy
by Robin Hobb
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.
If you like this, try:Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks
In the second part of the Night Angel trilogy Kylar Stern tries to leave the life of an assassin behind him.
The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells
Byren is quite happy for his elder twin to inherit the throne, but according to prophecy he will be nowhere near as benevolent to his twin brother.
Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman
Ember is prepared to put political gain before her own personal happiness. But can she really shut out her feelings so easily?
Review © Rosalind Jackson
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