REVIEW: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

In Assassin’s Quest, Fitz, the presumed dead assassin’s apprentice, whose tales have now become the stuff of legend in the Six Duchies is a beaten and battered remnant of his former self. He survived death with the help of poison, his wit-bonded companion Nighteyes, and his trusted allies Chade the assassin, and Burrich the stable master (and father figure). The majority of this world believe he is dead. Even his wife who is pregnant with his child. There are still the terrible raidings by the Red Ships that decimate whole settlements and leave people as the murderous zombie-like Forged. Also, the assumed dead rightful King, Verity is still trying to accomplish what many people believe is foolish in trying to venture to mythological lands to make allies with the equally legendary and fabled beasts, The Elderlings. Our first-person perspective viewpoint FitzChivalry, the Wit-tainted and Skill-talented bastard, still desires to murder his uncle, the pretender monarch, King Regal.

“I’m going to kill Regal. And his coterie. I’m going to kill all of them, for all they did to me, and all they took from me.

Regal? There is meat we cannot eat. I do not understand the hunting of men.

I took my image of Regal and combined it with his images of the animal trader who had caged him when he was a cub and beat him with a brass-bound club.

Nighteyes considered that. Once I got away from him, I was smart enough to stay away from him. To hunt that one is as wise as to go hunting a porcupine.

I cannot leave this alone, Nighteyes.

I understand. I am the same about porcupines.”

Some top reviewers I know don’t like this final entry to the Farseer Trilogy. Although it is lengthy, often poetically over-descriptive, can occasionally be difficult in it’s intricate and complex magical scheme concept sections, and features lots of travelling–I loved it. It’s intoxicating and almost dreamlike within its presentation and I adored that but will acknowledge that it is not for everyone. I’ve also been advised that after this point Hobb rarely puts a foot wrong in the gigantic, door-stopping Realm of the Elderlings saga and I cannot wait to continue. (I would be right now if I wasn’t writing this!)

I’d say this is approximately double the length to Royal Assassin and a large amount of that difference in page count is the Fitz, Nighteyes (and occasionally a friend or two) travelling sections, either to attempt to assassinate one uncle or to attempt to aid another uncle who is half the world away. At certain instances in the prior two tales, it was slow-going but this takes it a lot further. What also happens quite frequently is that as Fitz is often alone he finds out about events taking place across the environment by skill-dreaming. This is where he can be in somebody else’s mind and can see and feel things from their perspective. The skill sections can be confusing, whether the dreams, the power to converse with a person a world away, or the fact that some skill-wielders are so powerful they can murder with just a thought.

Many of my favourite cast members are presented here but others who we followed and truly cared about last time are only mentioned. This is due to the fact that most people believe that Fitz is six feet under. FitzChivalry has a few distinguishing features, a scar on his face, a broken nose and a streak of white in his hair, all from when King Regal was torturing him previously. He has to be stealthy throughout, often with the aid of Nighteyes’ senses. People recognise him, people see him and believe he’s undead and poor Fitzy Fitz as I’m sure the Fool might say, well, he has to be one of the unluckiest protagonists of all fantasy.

The Fitz and Nighteyes (his wit-bonded wolf) mind-linked conversations were excellent as always. He’s one of my two favourite individuals featured in this novel. In Nighteyes, Hobb really has crafted an amazing character and it aids the already excellent world-building as we can witness that same event, town, or possible confrontation from alternative, very different perspectives. Chade, Burrich, The Fool and King Regal are brilliantly presented again. There are a few impressive new additions such as the minstrel Starling who occasionally follows Fitz around and the mysterious old Lady Kettle.

This really was an emotional undertaking/quest for me. Some of the cast re-meeting or certain story-defining revelations released a plethora of emotions within me. I cried, was rejuvenated, amazed, shocked, fell-off the metaphorical stool I was sitting on. I found Assassin’s Quest exquisite and the narrative of the Farseer Trilogy completely breathtaking. It wraps events up well here but there is so much left to explore of the world, what could happen to the characters next, the potential unpredictable nature on the horizon etc… The last twenty-percent, after lots of walking, camping and hunting, was sublime. This is edging slowly but smoothly towards being one of my top three series of all time. Now, if you excuse me, back to the Realm of the Elderlings.

“I healed. Not completely. A scar is never the same as good flesh, but it stops the bleeding.”

Buy Assassin’s Quest

Read our review of Assassin’s Apprentice.

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James Tivendale

James reviews fantasy books, is a pretty good pool player and likes the musical Hamilton.