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