In this conclusion to the Farseer saga, FitzChivalry's quest for revenge on the usurping Regal requires him to journey to the Elderlings (wise old mages in the classic mold) and afterwards to realize the emergence of his own magical gifts, at which point the quest comes to an end after a mere 688 pages. Like much high fantasy these days, the book could have been pruned more than a trifle; on the other hand, along with the extra wordage come extra measures of characterization, world building, and emotionally compelling scenes of both magic and battle. And this is definitely the end of one story, although the world Hobb has created is now sufficiently developed (even why the characters have such archetypical names is explained) to be the scene of future books. In all, this is an improvement over its predecessors that will please their readers and probably whet their appetites for more from Hobb. Roland Green
From Kirkus Reviews
Final installment--each entry independently intelligible--of Hobb's stunning fantasy trilogy (Royal Assassin, 1996; Assassin's Apprentice, 1995) about the beleaguered Six Duchies and their Farseer kings. Months ago, King Verity vanished into the far mountains in search of the semi-mythical Elderlings, whose help he must have in order to defeat the rampaging Red Ship Raiders, leaving his murderous, venal, and insanely ambitious brother, Prince Regal, to dispose of Verity's last few loyalists at his leisure--including narrator, spy, and assassin FitzChivalry. Poor Fitz, unable to contact his beloved Molly (she thinks he's dead) and daughter (by Molly) for fear of exposing them to Regal's attentions, uses his magic Skill to locate Verity and receives an imperious summons: ``COME TO ME!'' So, abandoning his plan to assassinate Regal, Fitz enters the mountains with a small band of helpers. Eventually, having evaded Regal's minions, Fitz comes upon Verity Skill-carving a huge dragon out of black rock; nearby stand other lifelike dragon-sculptures that, to Fitz's animal-magic Wit, seem somehow alive. Are these eerie sculptures what remain of the Elderlings? Yet, for all his Skill, Verity cannot bring the dragons to life; and soon Regal will arrive with his armies and his Skilled coterie. An enthralling conclusion to this superb trilogy, displaying an exceptional combination of originality, magic, adventure, character, and drama. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.