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Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb (Book #3 in the Farseer Trilogy) Before starting this review, I just wanted to mention that I would love to hear from people who have read more of Robin Hobb's work to get their opinion on whether I should read more of her books.  Even if you don't have time to read the review, it would be great if you could comment (especially if you can tell me that her endings get better!)  I think she is a great writer, but as you will see, this ending left a bitter taste in the mouth and I am now not sure whether to read more of her stuff.

I have not felt this strongly about a book in a long time.  Unfortunately it is not a good feeling this time.  This review will contain spoilers for the first two books in the trilogy and this book itself.  I figure that given the date of the books, there aren't many people who have read the first two but not the third.

Just to quickly set the scene, I will talk briefly about the first two books.  The first book worked well as a stand alone story, but also as something setting the scene for bigger events.  It was about Fitz growing up, but it also introduced the two main threats facing the Six Duchies: the Outislanders and Prince Regal.  It was always obvious that we would get no resolution on those stories in the first book, and I remember thinking that the book must have been planned as a trilogy from the beginning. 

In the second book both the threats are really developed.  Prince Verity struggles to keep the Outislanders away and Prince Regal is slowly killing the King and positioning himself to take over.  It all came to a head in a brilliant ending where Verity had to go beyond the Mountain Kingdom to get help from the mythical Elderlings and Fitz had to fake his own death to escape Regal.  So far so good.  It also managed to avoid a common problem with trilogies--the boring second book syndrome. 

At this point I will say that I had a view of what was going to happen in the third book and how it might pan out.  I always saw the Regal threat as the more minor of the two, so I thought Fitz would kill Regal in the first half of the book and then Verity would arrive with the Elderlings and the second half of the book would be about the battle of fend off the Outislanders.  Well, if I was given 100 attempts to predict the third book, I still would have failed. 

Before I start criticizing this book (and that may take a while), I will discuss the positives.  Hobb is brilliant with characters.  Fitz is certainly one of my favourite protagonists in fantasy fiction.  The whole book is told from his perspective so it is crucial to have a likable, but not boring, character.  The only comparison I can make is to Kvothe in Name of the Wind, however Fitz is actually flawed and in my opinion that makes him more interesting.  Hobb is also great with relationships.  The relationships Fitz had with Nighteyes, the Fool, and Verity, could have come across as cheesy and unrealistic, but Hobb deals with them brilliantly.  In fact, despite my displeasure with this book, I can safely say that Hobb is a great writer.  Unfortunately, she may not tell a great story.

I said this book would include spoilers and I am now going to spoil 98% of the book with one word: walking.  It is basically all that happens.  Fitz walks from one place to another.  Sometimes with company, and sometimes without.  He meets other characters who often play no part in the story and then moves on.  Imagine Lord of the Rings (spoilers coming up - although if you haven't read LOTR yet then shame on you :-)) without all the battle stuff--just Frodo and Sam.  And then imagine that they don't meet Gollum.  And they don't come across any significant dangers along the way, except maybe a mountain that is tricky to climb.  And then they throw the ring in the fire and Mordor collapses.  That is kind of this book.  It is just so boring!

Even the dragons are boring!  I mean, an old weak Verity slowing chipping away at a stone to make a dragon, is hardly exciting.  I also think it is cheating a little.  I would have preferred the ending to have been based more on the magic system set up in the first two books.  I appreciate that it leans heavily on the Skill, but I still was a little surprised to see Dragons featuring in the story (although with hindsight the huge dragon on the cover should have been a minor clue).  It just didn't feel like a world that had dragons in it.

Another problem is the lack of urgency.  We are constantly told about the threat of the raiders and Regal but it is hard to really think that is important.  In the second book there was a real sense of urgency, but in this one they spend months walking through woods and building dragons.  In fact, I have no idea how much time passed in this book, it just didn't seem to be an issue.  Occasionally we see a raid through someone else's eyes, but that just makes you wonder why there is not more of a rush.

Needless to say, the ending was a huge disappointment.  Not with regards to the characters.  I liked the endings for them, even though it was a little sad in places.  The actual story however, had one of the worst endings I have read in fantasy literature.  I may have been happier if Fitz had woken up in New York in 2012 and it had all just been a dream.  I have no idea what possessed Hobb to take what little story there was here and stretch it out over 758 pages.  It seems to be part of a common pattern though.  The first book starts off short and is a success.  The author gets carried away and writes two huge sequels, which lose the pacing that made the first book such a success (see also the Mistborn trilogy I think).

The book gets 5/10 because of the character development.

May 04, 2012, 06:23:32 PM
Re: MODS PLEASE READ THIS POST! I'm moving this to the small press section.

(Who says I don't have a sense of humour!)

May 20, 2012, 08:35:40 PM
Re: Things you're just sick of. I hope this doesn't' offend any women, and I actually do agree with Fallen's statement, but...

I HATE THE FACT THAT IT HAS BECOME ALL ABOUT WOMEN. We focus solely on female protagonists, strong female characters, WEAK female characters, etc. Everything has become about having women in the story, to the point that fantasy authors today are forced to introduce at least one, lest they be flogged by the public. I remember the Tolkien topic, and the debate concerning him being a racist and a sexist. First of all. The main characters were dwarves, elves, Old Men (Aragorn and Gandalf), and basically, midgets. Does not sound racist to me. But sexist? This isn't like omission is just as bad as a lie. I mean, COME ON! WHEN DID IT BECOME ABOUT THE WOMAN AND THE WOMAN ONLY? WHAT ABOUT A STRONG MALE CHARACTER? You know how hard it is to actually find one of those, too? Sure, there are plenty of books with guys for protagonists, but that does not make them automatically great.

We still have to struggle to find strong male characters, too, ladies! Women scream for equality, but by continuously pointing out that you're sexist for doing this and for not doing that, you are asking to be placed upon a pedestal and treated differently! You never hear someone asking for, "Uhm, yeah, can we get a strong male character with a hot love interest on the side, and make sure they're a BADASS couple, alright?" That's because it's selfish to simply look out for ONE gender. For ONE type of person.

I keep seeing article after article on different websites going, "Women in literature," or, "Women's impact in world history." Do we have a, "Man's impact on world's history,"? We don't. And before you say that's because in the old days, it was a given that men were the only ones that impacted the world significantly, don't even bother. We're not in the 60's, or 70's, or 80's anymore. We really shouldn't look the gift horse in the mouth and act so ungrateful. Women have jobs higher than men, and are paid more. They go to colleges a lot of men AND women could not even dream of, just like some men go to colleges that SOME men AND women could only dream about. We live in an age of normality and equality. But we constantly yearn for more. We constantly ASK for more.

When is it time to say you're full? When is it time to say the elevator is over capacity? When is the time when the bath tub fills up with water and spills? WHEN IS IT EVER ENOUGH? Let me tell you what were to happen if we were all, men and women, literally equal. When a plane crashes in the sea and there are survivors, the pilot says, as well as the passengers, "WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST."

Why is that? Why can't we men survive, too? Are we barbarians and the women the fragile princesses? No! We are both flesh and blood, equally sensitive to, well, DROWNING. So, why do they go first? Why do we open doors for them, but not for the fellow man? Why are we the ones that have to hunt for the women, while they sit on the bar stool and give you the, "Come and hither," look. In any given emergency, it is always women and children first. Women and children. That is just the same as putting ten politicians together, five of them Democrats and the remaining five Republicans, and putting them in a room with ten homeless people. If there was an anthrax alert or an emergency, and the politicians said, "US FIRST! WE'RE IMPORTANT!" you would sneer in disgust. Well, exactly the same. We men are the last to escape the sinking ship. Hell, that's the ending of Titanic. That piece of driftwood could have EASILY carried Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as Kate Winslet, but for fear of endangering HER life, boom, dead.

So, why should anyone get special treatment simply because their genitalia is different from ours? You cannot say it's because we're naturally stronger. That's more sexist than anything I've said so far. In this day and age, a woman can learn the likes of Krav Maga and kick your ass ten ways from Sunday. She still goes first. Equality is not as simple as it sounds.

"Oh, yeah, world peace." Impossible. As long as we have human emotions, such as greed, anger, etc. we will never have world peace.

"Equality for men and women." Even if this were possible, I do not think women would like the equality so much. Because, once it is no longer WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST, you'll find that we men would shove you down on the ground, most likely trample you there, to survive to see our children grow up. Or see our wives back home. Or see our girlfriends. Or see our pet DOG. Once you get rid of Women and Children first, the odds are it is the men that survive to go back home, and look guiltily over the horizon as they remember how they trampled over all of the women. And if true equality were to occur, and we didn't have to prowl and jump through hoops to just FIND you women, you'll see us sitting at the bar stool, as well, exuding a COME HERE AND LET'S GO TO MY APARTMENT aura without so much as glancing at women.

That's it. Done venting.

September 25, 2012, 08:05:56 AM
Re: Things you're just sick of. People who leave their trolley in the middle of a supermarket aisle with no thought for other people.

People who stop dead in their tracks on the pavement to take a photo or text.

People who call me and try and sell me stuff.

People who knock on my door. Unless I know you or you are delivering me something, go away. You probably don't really want to see me in my pants anyway.

So yeah, people annoy me!

September 25, 2012, 09:50:18 PM
Re: Things you're just sick of.

People who knock on my door. Unless I know you or you are delivering me something, go away. You probably don't really want to see me in my pants anyway.

So yeah, people annoy me!

Saying that is just going to make more of them turn up, you never let the creepers know you're in your pants!

September 25, 2012, 10:20:15 PM
Re: Things you're just sick of.
I'm sick of corrupt people in and around government and I'm sick of the fact that we keep letting them get away with it when there are plenty of lamp posts in Westminster that we could hang them from.

YES. This. But in my country, too. (US) And I'm sick of the shouting heads on TV making up excuses and lying and sensationalizing and confusing things. News isn't news any more, it's entertainment. And really bad entertainment at that. I try to get my news from Jon Stewart and PBS.

September 26, 2012, 03:40:24 PM
Re: Things you're just sick of. I'm sick of people who look at me like I'm batsh*t crazy when they ask me: "So - get up to anything last night?" and I say - "I read a book."

This may be a new phenomenon for some of you. Sadly, not for me.

September 28, 2012, 08:16:45 PM
Re: Things you're just sick of.
I'm sick of people who look at me like I'm batsh*t crazy when they ask me: "So - get up to anything last night?" and I say - "I read a book."

This may be a new phenomenon for some of you. Sadly, not for me.

I remember when I told my old best friend about my book, and that I'd gotten about a hundred and a half pages into it.

"Dude, get a life hehehe."

Of course, then we started reading lines from my book out loud, so I forgave him for that. ;D

September 28, 2012, 08:20:36 PM
Re: Things you're just sick of. Ok. I'll bite.

I reserve the right to be crude, wrong and completely illogical :)

Console/PC debates. Ugh. Let people play what they wanna play!! It doesn't matter if you'd choose differently, it won't change what console they have right now.

The price of PC gaming in general. £20-30 for a tangible game PLUS upgrading various components every few years to keep up with certain levels of performance... (moved over from console because PC has a wider variety of games, as opposed to 100 FPS games a year - exaggerated, but meh)

This whole Geek Chic thing. I blame Big Bang Theory (though I love it). It makes me angry that it's suddenly cool to look like a geek, when really, you're only doing it to fit it. Especially the big glasses thing! Holy funk! Take them off and crawl back into your social media bubble!!

Girl gamers that have to tell you they are a girl gamer. No. You are a gamer. Sex/gender is irrelevant. Stop attention seeking.

I think I'm done  :D

September 29, 2012, 08:33:56 PM
Re: Things you're just sick of. When you are reading a book and the author takes up half a page describing eye color.
November 29, 2012, 08:17:25 PM