It’s been almost nine years since I decided to read Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book in Robin Hobb’s sixteen-volume fantasy sequence following the adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer, his friend the Fool, and the people of Bingtown and the Rain Wilds. Not being a big reader of fantasy, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I trusted the opinions of the fellow bloggers who had recommended it – and I loved it! I went on to read the other books in the individual trilogies and quartets that make up the sequence: the Farseer Trilogy, the Liveship Traders Trilogy, the Tawny Man Trilogy, the Rain Wild Chronicles and, finally, the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy. Assassin’s Fate is the final book in this final trilogy, bringing the entire series to a close.
Naturally, I can’t really discuss the last of sixteen books without spoiling certain aspects of the fifteen previous ones, so be warned! If you haven’t read any of these books yet, I strongly recommend starting at the beginning, with Assassin’s Apprentice – and I hope you’ll enjoy your journey through Robin Hobb’s world as much as I did. This particular novel, though, hasn’t become a favourite and even now, more than a week after I finished it I can’t really decide how I felt about it.
Assassin’s Fate picks up the story from the previous book, Fool’s Quest, with Fitz and his companions heading for the distant city of Clerres in pursuit of the people who have captured his young daughter, Bee. As well as Fitz, the party consists of the Fool, in his female guise of Amber, the trainee assassin Spark, Chade’s illegitimate son Lant, and the stableboy, Per. Fitz is convinced that Bee is dead and their mission is one of vengeance only, but Amber senses that she is still alive. Either way, now that they have embarked on their journey, they need to reach Clerres as quickly as possible and passage has been arranged on the liveship Paragon.
The story of Fitz’s journey alternates with chapters narrated by Bee as she describes her ordeal at the hands of her captors, led by the evil Dwalia. I’ve had mixed feelings about Bee throughout this trilogy – on the one hand, I like her as a character and I can see that her viewpoint allows us to witness things that Fitz does not and so fills in the gaps in the story; on the other, having spent the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies solely inside Fitz’s head, I would have preferred to continue like that. I often find that I start to lose interest slightly when a long series or saga begins to move on to the next generation and the older characters I have grown to love start to take a back seat. In this book, the earlier Bee chapters felt drawn out and repetitive, although later on, when she and her captors arrived in Clerres, I found her story much more compelling.
A bigger problem for me was the amount of time spent on characters from the Liveship Traders and Rain Wilds novels. As this is the book that wraps up the whole sequence, it’s understandable that Hobb would want to give us a chance to say our farewells to the characters from those books as well as the Farseer ones, but I felt that they came to dominate the story too much. I was happy to see Paragon again and his captains Althea and Brashen, but I had no interest in their son Boy-O or in Kennitson of the Pirate Isles. Instead, I would have preferred more interactions between Fitz and the Fool (not Amber, as I shared Fitz’s dislike of her), more communication with Verity, which was hinted at in the previous book but not followed through, and while we were saying our goodbyes to various characters, I would have liked a better send-off for Chade.
I probably sound as though I didn’t enjoy this book much at all, but that’s not true! I did find plenty of things to like, such as the dramatic scenes within the walls of Clerres, the roles of Nighteyes and Motley the crow, and the final few chapters which, despite not being quite the ending to Fitz’s story I would have chosen, still made me cry. I’m just slightly disappointed that so much of this final novel was devoted to characters and storylines I didn’t feel very invested in. I’m sure people who loved the Liveship and Rain Wilds books more than I did will feel much more satisfied with it.
I’m not sure whether any of Robin Hobb’s other books appeal to me (she has also written as Megan Lindholm) but I’m pleased to have read these ones as overall, apart from a few that have been less successful, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them.
6 thoughts on “Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb”
I’ve yet to read the second in the sequence, Helen, so I’ve just read your intro and – forgive me – skipped the rest! But well done for wading through all the titles, an encouraging sign as I wend my slow way from title to title. 🙂
Yes, I think it’s best to know as little as possible as you work through this sequence. I hope you enjoy the second book whenever you get around to reading it.
I normally run a mile from the word ‘fantasy’, but you have persuaded me I ought to get over myself and – perhaps – give these a try.
I don’t read a lot of fantasy but there are a few authors I’ve discovered I like and Hobb is one of them.
I have had that problem when a long series began with the next generation, too.
Yes, it can often be a problem.