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4.1 out of 5 stars
Assassin's Quest (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 3)
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51 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had never heard of Robin Hobb until a friend recommended her. Having just finished this trilogy, I am immediately ranking her as one of my favorite fantasy authors. Her characterization of FitzChivalry is breathtaking - one of the best-written characters I've ever read. I usually don't much care for first person narratives but this is definitely the exception to that rule.
This, the third book of the trilogy, kept me turning pages at an incredible rate. However, like many of the other reviewers, I was disappointed in the ending. Not because it was depressing - on the contrary, stories in real life don't always have happy endings, so why do books always have to? - but because it seemed rushed. All of the mysteries that were built up over the course of the trilogy (the Elderlings, the Raiders and Forged Ones) were suddenly summed up and solved in just a few pages, leaving me thinking, "That was it?"
But regardless of my dislike for the ending, this trilogy was fantastic and I am looking forward to reading more of Robin Hobb's work.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First off, I just have to say that all of Ms Hobb's books are incredibly well-written and 'Assassin's Quest' is no exception. Ms Hobb's characters are more completely fleshed out than any other authors' that I've read. My only complaints of the book are the hasty defeat of the Red Ships (a little detail would've been appreciated) and the state of mind and body that Fitz was in at the end. I'm not childish enough that I have to have the protagonists of the fantasy books I read become kings or omnipotent wizards by the end of the book but to know that Fitz's fate is that of a forgotten and unrecognized cripple is just too much. A lot of the other reviews for 'Assassin's Quest' applaud it for its realism but in my opinion making a book realistic doesn't have to mean that that book is mind-numbingly depressing. However, there is a light at the end of this tunnel- Robin Hobb is writing a sequel trilogy about FitzChivalry right now.
If you've read the first 2 books in the Farseer Trilogy I do recommend reading 'Assassin's Quest' but don't start reading it expecting a great ending to this great trilogy because there isn't one in this book. I can only hope that the next Fitz trilogy that Ms Hobb is writing will grant Fitz some of the honor that he deserves.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was greatly surprised, reading the reviews here, to find so many mixed, not to mention downright negative, reviews. So I'll try and actually write out why I thought this book, or perhaps, more accurately, this series, was, as far as I'm concerned, about the best thing to come out in North America in recent memory.
The most refreshing thing about the series, has to be its take on the whole heroic fantasy bit, which has, to be honest, been done to death and beyond. However, the equally overdone, morose antihero type cliche (equally over done in contemporary fantasy, I fear) has also been avoided. This book, and you'll forgive me for being full of myself in saying this, takes, not the protagonist who isn't a hero (a la George RR Martin, or Elric), but the hero who isn't the protagonist.To clarify, I believe that while Fitz is the protagonist, obviously, of the book, he's not the protagonist of the story being told in the book.
I liked the ending a lot, although I can see what there is to dislike there, especially since we've been following Fitz around for as long as he remembers. It was in keeping with the hero not protagonist bit, however. I didn't think that the Red Ship thing was too rushed, and while it could have been spread out a bit more, I quite enjoyed the implication that, what with everything that had happened, the Red Ships were hardly important anymore.
The characters were extremely well done as well. The main characters, from Patience to Kettle to Fitz himself, were all characterized, not explicitly, which is the easiest way, but implicitly, through their actions. They all seemed human to me, which is another thing that is sometimes difficult to pull off in fantasy literature.
The plot was good too. 'Nough said about that I think. It wasn't exceptionally original, but it was carried off extremely well, and had a good level of complexity (not overly simplistic, but not to the monsterous levels of untrackable complexity of, say, WoT)
A final word is on the length of the series itself. I like trilogies. It means that you get closure within a period of a couple years, and that things can happen in book two without having to worry about book 8. And Robin Hobb writes them far quicker than most epic writers.
Ahhh... yeah. That's about it. Read this book, but not in the expectation of either a heroic, TSR fantasy or of a dark, gritty expose of the darkest corners of the human soul, but of something wonderful in between.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
From the first pages of the Assassin's Apprentice until a hundred pages shy of this final book, I was quite convinced that I was reading what would become my favorite fantasy series ever. Don't get me wrong- I still loved it, but the ending let me down. (and many other readers I think) I can't help but get the impression that Hobb wanted to write a forth book to wrap it up (but was pressured not to by publishers), and its a shame she didn't take it, because the end result seemed rushed and chaotic, and just plain sloppy.
From having been a well-laid out, intelligent and gritty novel that kept you on your knees waiting to see how it would end- it went on to a hasty, summed-up ending that was a shadow of Hobb's ability. If ever an ending needed to be redone- its here. No dragons. Just a simple, bloody, final confrontation, as in the first two books- and this series would have ended solidly. I would gladly buy a revised copy if she ever makes one, for I will certainly reread this series down the line.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I very rarely give only one star; it feels melodramatic, especially since I gave Royal Assassin five. But after the quality of the first two books in this trilogy, I was shocked and appalled by this one--and, what's worse, I was bored.

In this book, Fitz leaves Buckkeep and all of the other characters we've come to know and love over the first two books. He spends most of the 760-page book hiking across the continent, much of it alone, much of the rest with random throwaway characters who appear for the first time in this book (many of whom disappear after a couple chapters and proceed to have no more impact on the plot). It all feels like filler. When he finally meets up with other major characters, there's more walking, more filler... what happened to all the passion and intrigue of the first two books? It's hard to put my finger on what went wrong here. It feels as if the author just stopped caring. Even the writing became repetitive.

Then there's the end. It's just awful. Hobb leaves all the antagonists that have been wreaking havoc throughout the trilogy to be dealt with in the last 30 pages or so; inevitably, it's rushed. Not only that, it happens off-screen, in narrative summary. You thought after all this pain you'd actually get to see a final battle with the Red Ships, or Fitz assassinating Regal? Nope. The ending itself is decidedly bittersweet, but after this slog I no longer cared about the characters I'd been so emotionally attached to for the first two books, so it didn't really bother me.

I've tried to find some redeeming quality here, but honestly thought the book was hideous, and it definitely brings down my opinion of the trilogy. It's a shame because the first two books were so good... if only this had been a duology.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book fundamentally ruined the series for me. Up until this point, I had thought of the Farseer books as decent reads. Fairly slow burners until the later chapters, but slow isn't necessarily bad and they were filled with good and interesting characters. This book however, is chock full of filler. Most of the book is spent introducing and discarding useless characters. This might have had a purpose had Fitz actually developed as a character, but the ending saw sure that wasn't to be. Not to mention that half the dialogue is telepathic, and the author sticks such telepathic conversations right in the middle of paragraphs with no indication. On several occasions I had to step right out of mind and wonder as I looked at a particular sentence. Was this sentence merely an incongruent badly formed, grade school level misprint, or transmitted thoughts and if so, by whom?

But the ending... Sweet Jesus the ending is awful. Throughout most of the book, returning to Molly is Fitz's purpose. He will suffer anything if he just gets to go back and life a normal life with his one true love after finding his King. But in the last chapter, he gives it up. Not for a truly noble purpose, but because he thinks that it will be better somehow. That it is better for him to live a solitary, hermitary existence more or less by himself, than returning to the people that care about him and filling the hole his apparent death created. Its stupid. It completely destroyed the characters of Burrich and Fitz for me, and made me feel stupid for wasting my time with this series. I've looked ahead at spoilers, and even though it seems to get properly resolved at the end of the next trilogy, I've no desire to suffer though it. I may borrow the last book just to read the last chapter, since judging by this book, I have little doubt such resolution consists of more than "OMG ur alive." "Yup." *hugs*
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Well I must say that I enjoyed this book much more than I expected after the last. To its credit, the protagonist is much truer to what I would expect a real person to be in his shoes, also the book moves at a steady clip that moved it beyond the walls of the royal abode, where most of the action took place in the previous two books. This book is quite a change from the last two books in that it almost wholly abandones many of the characters that played prominent roles there. I didn't mind that. The new characters are interesting and add to the story, but I did sometime miss the old characters. Some might feel the abscence of Chade and Burrich more keenly than I did though.

After completing the trilogy I was struck by how poorly they were named. The stage that Hobb set initially seems much more interesting to me than the direction that she took it. I liked the idea of an assassin employed for nothing more in some cases than for political gain. I liked the idea of confronting how this would reflect on the assassin and those that employed him. Unfortunately, there is very little of that in the series and I think that the protagonist is generously named "assassin" given his tasks.

A couple of the things that bothered me about this book: implausible barriers thrown up so the author can take the story where she wants it to go. I just didn't buy Fitz' reluctance to reveal his resurrected self to his old friends. The reasons he gives felt manufactured. This feeling increased by the reception he receives from those to whom he does reveal himself. In fact, it seems that there is hardly anyone close to him who is repulsed by his use of the wit. But the author has somewhere she wants to take us, so he must refuse to reveal himself. It detracted from the story and I didn't buy it.

The author is unmerciful to poor Fitz. He suffers and how. The whole series is chalk full of one abuse after another. This did not bother me throughout the entire series, because it seemed that it was building to a payoff. Not so. I don't mind if everything doesn't turn out as expected at the end, in fact I prefer it - it adds verisimility of the story - but the way she ends this book was entirely unsatisfactory. It turns out that Fitz truly is a dog who needs his master to lead his life given what he does with it when it is his own. It really detracted from the story. So much so that tainted the whole book and the series.

Finally, Hobb showed a penchant for a brief denouement in her first two books, so I should have seen it coming, but I was still surprised at how broadly she treats overriding mysteries at the end of the book. I think that many will be left scratching their heads about the significance of certain events and items. I don't know why, after painting such a rich picture in developing the story, she doesn't do the same in finishing it. Hobb feels stingy in giving up those payoff moments in the series, and given that this is the last of the three, it really stings here.

That said the world was great and the characters were sympathetic. I believe that the story will leave a lasting impression on your mind - unlike many other fantasy novels - just not a completely satisfying one.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I struggled with this book. I struggled to like it, I struggled in wading through chapter after chapter without momentum, endless events of Fitz getting hurt or meandering.

I should have simply skipped 600 pages and read the last couple chapters sooner. The first fifty and last fifty pages are decent. The conclusion does wrap up the trilogy, but what you slog through in getting there is terrible. The 657 pages of the Middle needed an editor willing to cut sequences which added nothing to the story. Those 657 pages could be condensed into about 150 pages, and only then would this novel be wonderful.

My recommendation is read the first three chapters, and read the last three chapters. You might like the book then; if you read the whole thing, you'll probably get sick of endless angst and Fitz being stupid, and keep putting it down. Like I did. It took me a month to finally finish with this book, due to boredom.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy started out strong, but each of the books became slightly disappointing when compared to the last. Where the first book was almost perfectly crafted, the second book was powerful but flawed, and the third was well-written but comparatively disjointed and unmoving.

The problem with this book is that from the get-go it severs too much of its own emotional power. The main character, FitzChivalry, already believes he has lost everything at the beginning of the story, and the book's ending only confirms his belief. The first two books thrived on the familiarity of Buckkeep and the characters residing within it; it drew on both the setting and the relationships of those characters to sustain its drama and emotional resonance. In this final installment, FitzChivalry never again sets foot in Buckkeep, and those characters are not present at all for at least half of the story. When they are present, they've changed almost beyond recognition.

In that way, reading Assassin's Quest is like having the rug pulled out from under you in much the same way it was for its main character. I'm sure Hobb knew this would be the effect of her decisions, and perhaps she even strove for it. That doesn't change the fact that this story is that much less engaging and emotional than the last two.

It is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, though, and probably the inevitable one. Why Hobb had to tell this story, I don't know, but she accomplished what she set out to do. It's a good read and necessary if you read the preceding books. It is not, however, their equal.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Before I start, I'll admit it openly: I get too caught up in books, and so this trilagy depressed me. When I finally finished AQ after not stirring all day, I felt almost like I was waking from a nightmare. Only I'm so upset about the ending that I can't can't stop thinking about it, so I'm writing this to try to snap out of Fitz's head and remember that life still exsists.
I think that far from falling off in character development, Robin Hobb has only gotten better. I thought that nothing could be done with Fitz after the way she ended the second book, but I have to say something was done, and it was done well. Fitz grew up...very realistically, which is perhaps why the series is so sad.
I have two big problems with this book: The first is that it got very weird after awhile. The self destruction and the forming of the dragons was too starnge, and it was easy to lose the charcters there. Also, what is it that she has with self-sacrafice/destruction? Verity has to give up everything for the Kingdom, Fitz has to give up everything for Verity. Something seems a little off here.
The second problem was the end. I understand that there couldn't be a happy ending for Fitz and Molly. Much as I hated it, I came to that realization on my own, somewhere in the middle. However, there was no reason to finish the set on such a dark note. Fitz's life with Molly was over, but one ending doen't mean there isn't another beginning. Kettle's prophasy to Fitz even identicated that there would be. But insread of allowing us to hope for that, Hobb writes the most hopless closing chapter I have ever read, in which the general impression you get is that Fitz is cut of from everybody, and has given up on ever trying to connect to anyone else. Even the boy is called "Boy". You'd think that the original Boy would know better then that. What takes the cake is the last line, that Fitz and Nighteyes are waiting to create their own dragon. Wonderful. Robin Hobb closes the trilagy by having the main character in! whose head we've been in sinse he was six, say that he basically wants to be forged. No wonder I'm depressed.
I admire authors who refuse to take the easy way out, and understand that life is not always perfect (most fantasy authors have a hard time grasping this). The Farseer trilagy, however, took this a little to far. Life isn't perfect, but it's not hopless either.
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