Audiobook Review: Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest (Farseer Trilogy) by Robin Hobb

I wanted to write separate reviews for these two books, but when I sat down to do it, I realized that I did not know where Royal Assassin ended and Assassin’s Quest began. Of course, checking the books would have told me where. But, for me, that is not the point. In Book 1, FitzChivalry was a boy. In books 2 and 3, he was an adolescent who became a man too early for his age.

I wanted so very much to delineate a line between FitzChivalry the young boy entering puberty and the man he became, albeit all of these happened before he reached his 20th birthday.

There will be spoilers in this review. So, if you have not read the books yet, then please beware. If you want to know my thoughts about the book, please proceed reading after the image below.

A coming of age story, The Farseer Trilogy series follows the life of FitzChivalry, the illegitimate child of Prince Chivalry who was also King-in-Waiting for the kingdom of Six Duchies. When his existence became known, Prince Chivalry abdicated and did not even meet his son until he died.

Meanwhile, FitzChivalry was in an unfortunate position. Because of his royal blood, he inherited the Skill Magic that has been always associated with the Farseers. But though Fitz has no claims to the throne, his uncle Prince Regal saw him as a threat.

Fitz also has the much maligned and much misunderstood Wit Magic. Derogatory called Beast Magic, the Old Blood (the proper name for those who has this magic) can communicate with animals on a very rudimentary level, that is until that person bonds with an animal wherein communication is more concise. Fitz found the wolf Nighteyes as his bond animal and they could communicate telepathically

As readers, we never meet Fitz’s mother. For Fitz, the female influence came from Lady Patience, Prince Chivalry’s wife who moved back to Buckkeep after her husband’s death. From her, Fitz learned much about herbs and unconditional love.

One of my favorite parts of the story was when Patience confessed to Fitz that she went back to Buckkeep to make sure that Fitz get the education he deserved. And without saying so, to be his champion also. That was when Fitz realized that though he has friends and blood relatives in the castle, it was only Patience who was there for him alone, without the requisite of duty, blood or politics. Patience was there because she loves him.

For male role models, Fitz has many, beginning with Burrich who raised him since he was 6 until he was 10. Burrich, who was also Witted taught Fitz about that magic though he disapproved of Fitz practicing it.

There was also King Shrewd, Fitz’s grandfather and the monarch of the Six Duchies. Though he cannot claim Fitz officially because of his birth, the old king claimed him in another way, by making him a King’s man that paved his way to becoming an Assassin’s apprentice.

There is Chade Fallstar, the illigitimate half brother of King Shrewd, the current Royal Assassin and Fitz’s mentor.

And finally, Prince Verity, the King-in-Waiting. It is with him that Fitz will share a bond as a blood relative and also the Skill magic. From him, Fitz will learn about duty, sacrifice and love, both filial and romantic.

It was 1995-1997 that I first read the Farseer Trilogy, the years that the books were originally published. I saw the trilogy as a coming of age story, which it is.

Yet, that time, I missed the significance of Verity as a tragic character. The second son, (or the spare, in today’s lingo) he was trained as such. Yet, he was King during the Six Duchy’s greatest need. Missing the support of his elder brother who has dies and leaving the wife he loves, Verity had to find a way to save his kingdom. He had to do it alone, his only support was Fitz through Skilling.

I even missed the meaning of “sacrifice” that was actually a big part of the story. It was brought front and center by Queen Kettricken, a princess of the Mountain Kingdom wherein monarchs are called Sacrifice instead of royal titles.

The Farseer Trilogy is a story of war and treachery. It is actually bloody! But, it is also a love story, albeit tragic for most part. FitzChivalry Farseer is an unforgettable character, and so are the others. Like what I said, I read these books during the 1990s and when I re-read it today, it only took me the first few pages and I already remember FitzChivalry and his adventures.

So now, we come to the rating of the book, which obviously I am giving it 5 Stars. I loved it when I first read it in the 1990s. And I still love it today, 20 years later.

Now, for my recommendation. I say, Rated T for teens for violence. There are no sex scenes in this book though it is implied.

 

Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 2)

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice. (published 1996)

Assassin’s Quest (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 3)

King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz—or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest—perhaps to death. Only Verity’s return—or the heir his princess carries—can save the Six Duchies.

But Fitz will not wait. Driven by loss and bitter memories, he undertakes a quest: to kill Regal. The journey casts him into deep waters, as he discovers wild currents of magic within him—currents that will either drown him or make him something more than he was. (published 1997)