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Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb
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Book Name: Assassin's Quest
Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher(s): Voyager
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book / eBook
Genre(s): Fantasy / Dark Fantasy
Release Date: January 5, 1998

The Fool by John HoweWell, I guess I should start off by saying this series was absolutely fantastic. I had Assassin’s Apprentice (which I rated 5/5) sitting on by bookshelf for about 2 or 3 years and never got around to it. It wasn’t until it came up in our fantasy book club that I thought about it once more and was I guess ‘forced’ to pick it up.

Hobb with that single book flew straight into my Top 5 Author list, simply because her ability to craft a story, loveable characters and write first person is almost unmatched. In fact only one person stands in her way in regards to first person narrative and that is Patrick Rothfuss. However, to compare her and Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind fame) is an almost impossible task. Even though Kvothe and Fitz share many traits and both authors are unbelievably skillful writers and both have quite a similar story (boy loses parents, forced to live in a world outside of his comfort zone).

Anyway, back to Assassin’s Quest as a book. I am sad to say it was certainly the weakest in the series. The Farseer books one and two blew me away. Fitz, The Fool and Nighteyes the Wolf are some of the most memorable characters I have ever encountered and I think you can see that they have influenced people greatly throughout the entire genre over the years.

Fitz by John HoweThis story though did show a weakness in first person narrative. You kind of have to show everything that is important to the narrator, but that may not be important to the reader. Fitz basically spends months and months walking around the mountains searching for what to do next. And in all honesty, we don’t care too much about what he wants to do next (he does obviously), we just want to see him do it. I think it is about page 500/848 when the story picks up, and Fitz accomplishes his first task. You finally think the story is going to pick up steam now, but it doesn’t. Fitz and his three new companions now begin to wander around together. Again, we know their objective and they are talking about it, but they aren’t actually doing it. In third person, the narrator would jump ahead in time and take us to what is important to us, but to Fitz, the wandering is important because he is thinking about things that matter to him and narrates it to us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The bonding between Fitz and the wolf/Fitz and the Fool are some of the very best relationship building I have experienced as a reader. However, I do think that 848 pages was perhaps, a little too much. There certainly could have been less wandering around and more action. Why could Fitz not have had more interesting skill visions? They were all very vague and unexciting. Why could Fitz not have found his companions a little earlier?

Then…the ending. I can’t spoil too much, but I felt completely, completely ripped off by the ending. With a book of this length, the ending has to be more than a single chapter…surely!? I mean, all that walking around, all that searching, all the discussion, all that planning, and then the ending is literally ‘bang’ and that is it. It is not a bad ending as such, it just feels…I’m not sure, empty? I guess the good news is that it is not ‘the end’ exactly, because there are plenty more books to come within this world.

I maintain that Hobb is a fantastic writer and I maintain that The Farseer Trilogy is one of the finest series out-there. However, the first person narration that Hobb is bound to shows its flaws within this novel and leaves you feeling a bit exhausted without the triumph you feel you deserve. I guess, I kind of feel like I’ve run the full distance of a marathon and upon reaching the finishing line, found that everyone has packed up and gone home.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (10 votes cast)
Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb, 10.0 out of 10 based on 10 ratings
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9 Comments

  1. Overlord says:

    Images are the fantastic contribution of John Howe who has illustrated much of Tolkien and Hobb’s work

    Please visit:
    http://www.john-howe.com/

    You will really find that his art increases your appreciation for the series 🙂

  2. Bronson says:

    I didn’t pick up her books for years because, cliched as this may sound, I didn’t like the look of its covers. When i did i couldn’t put them down. Characterization was brilliant. Best i have read. While i was actually reading the books i actually started having “Fitz” thoughts. She is an amazing writer.

    Assassins Quest was a little arduous though, particularly while trekking through the mountains. The whole tone of the Farseer books though is so dreary (atmosphere wise) that i always feel a little exhausted after reading them.

  3. littlemizzangry says:

    Sorry, but don’t agree with this review at all, this was my favourite book of the series because of the way it was written and drawn out. All that wondering around as put above is what made it.

  4. Khaldun says:

    Never got to this one, unfortunately. Reread ASOIAF, Lies of Locke Lamora, and TKOTW, two more times instead.

  5. Bets Davies says:

    For some reason I could never get into Hobbs. She does deep characterization, which is what I love best, but it’s always felt a little, I don’t know. Cold? Maybe just epic? I’m not an epic girl. For instance, any book that is over 800 pages, I believe is in serious need of a strict editor, and I will probably never pick it up.

    First person isn’t inherently flawed. In third limited you are supposed to study your characters’ emotions, thoughts, reactions as well. In each case, you just need to know when to stop. Apparently, Hobbs didn’t. Once we get that the Fitz is wandering and wondering, we can skip that shit to the point where, months later, he finally gets a clue.

  6. Bronson says:

    See i found this type of third person to be refreshing and very thorough. You don’t just get to know what Fitz is thinking, you get to know who he is so when you get to the third book you start to realise how he is going to respond to something simply because you know him so well.

    The other standout thing for me in her writing is that the characters all very distinct. A lot of the time you read an author who write characters who have very obvious differences in personality but when you get a little deeper they all have the same underlying voice. I don’t see this with Hobb though. All her characters have different thoughts and reactions to things. In the Tawny man trilogy is really where you see this shine.

    Sounds like i am a fan boy right 😛

  7. James says:

    I thought number 3 was fantastic, true there was some parts that I wandered a little, but overall I thought it was a good conclusion to the first installment.

    I have done a number of re-read’s on the full Fitz series (6 books) as I see them. She has a way of getting you to invest in the series, especially the characters. I have yet to tackle the dragon series of hers or the soldier son series (I think that is the name of it??), as I found the beginnings a little harder to get into (and I had Black prism sitting there along with the Durza novella to read as well).

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