On this, the penultimate day of December (consequently also the penultimate day of 2015 – YIKES!), I bring to you another review. I’m not sure whether this will become a common feature on my blog yet. I might revert to Week in Review instead, but more on that in tomorrow’s post…
For now, after finishing the third book in the series, I’ve decided to review the entire Farseer Trilogy in one posting.
First written in 1995, The Assassin’s Apprentice marked both the start of a trilogy and of a larger fantastical universe: The Realm of the Elderlings. The titular character is FitzChivalry, bastard son to the Farseer heir of the Six Duchies, Chivalry, who is taken to Buckkeep to be raised by the royal family. There he falls under the guardianship of Burrich, his father’s man at arms. Fitz’s life is irrevocably changed at this moment, as he discovers that he is endowed with the Wit ( a magical link with animals) and is taken under the wing of the elusive Chade to be trained in the art of assassination.
I loved every minute of reading The Farseer Trilogy, though I suffered some heartbreak along the way. It is a beautifully written series, a story told in a patient and expressive prose that takes pains in establishing setting. Thought it follows a classic fantasy plot formula, Hobb still manages to surprise with twists and obstacles unforeseen. Most of all, the characters of this series breathe life, each unique in their own way, each with their own captivating story to parallel and reinforce Fitz’s.
Goodreads introduces the story as such: In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.
I honestly can’t think of a better way to discuss the trilogy’s protagonist. Fitz is introduced as a young boy who is oftentimes regarded as a burden. For this reason, he finds companions in animals that he is able to connect to. Even as he becomes a pawn in the larger plots threatening the kingdom, Fitz remains a figure with his own morals and his own beliefs. He states his loyalty to his grandfather, King Shrewd, but follows his own heart in his decisions, always his own person. The strong characterization of Fitz is one of the reasons why I love this series. He is an ambiguous character in many ways, headstrong and stubborn. While he holds to his allegiances, a trait that especially comes to the fore in the final book, Assassin’s Quest, his personal drive makes him a flawed character one can easily relate to. Fitz is the heart of this trilogy, it is a story of his growth from a young boy marked by his illegitimate birth to a man who cares and is cared for, who is ready for the ultimate sacrifice if it means saving those he holds dearest.
In terms of fantastical achievement, Hobb crafts a world that draws comparisons to the Middle Ages, setting us in a land threatened by the Red-Ship Raiders who leave in their wake, Forged Ones (people from whom all emotion and memory has been drawn). Magic also presents itself in the mystery of the Elderlings which only finds true resolution in the last book. The art of the Skill and the Wit are most prominent throughout, the former being revered, the latter feared.
Of special note is how each chapter begins with an excerpt from a history of the Six Duchies. This was a feature I especially enjoyed as it allowed for the placement of backstory without infringing on the plot itself.
A truly memorable series, Hobb’s mastery of fantasy is clear. I highly recommend you read it, especially if you are fond of traditional fantasy and engaging characters.
I look forward to beginning the next installment in the larger series, the first in the Liveship Traders trilogy: Ship of Magic
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,