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Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,317 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Farseer Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The bastard sons of kings play a noble role in fantasy: not only were King Arthur and Modred by-blows, but it is often suggested that Merlin himself came to power from the "wrong side of the bed." While Hobb's offering has a few too many illegitimate heirs backstabbing around, this is still a delightful take on the powers and politics behind the throne. Fitz, who is often called the "Boy" or the "Bastard," was begotten by good Prince Chivalry upon some "peasant" woman. At age six, he is given over to the safekeeping of the prince's man, Burrich. Fitz's impolitic existence causes the prince to abdicate his claim to the throne, and he and his wife leave the court, and the boy, behind. Fitz has inherited the "Skill," a mind-bending talent, and also has the ability to meld his thoughts with those of nonhuman creatures and to mentally "repel" physical advances. When Fitz finally comes to King Shrewd's attention, he is given over to the Royal Assassin's tutelage and trained to carry out the king's devious plans. The novel's conceit-that it offers Fitz's memoirs from childhood through adolescence-allows for several sequels. A gleaming debut in the crowded field of epic fantasies and Arthurian romances.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

As a royal bastard in the household of King Shrewd, a boy called "Fitz" spends his early years in the king's stables. When the magic in his blood marks him for destiny, he begins receiving secret instruction, by order of the king, in the art of assassination, a calling that places him in the midst of a nest of intrigue and arcane maneuverings. Firmly grounded in the trappings of high fantasy, Hobb's first novel features a protagonist whose coming of age revolves around the discovery of the meaning of loyalty and trust. This gracefully written fantasy belongs in most libraries.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Farseer Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055357339X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553573398
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,317 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am writing this review because I found this trilogy impossible to put down but emotionally draining. This was the kind of story that grabs your guts as well as your mind. If you have read Haldeman's "All My Sins Remembered", you know what I mean. After I finished the last Assassin book I spent hours trying to sort out my feelings. It hit me that hard.
After I read the first book I told my wife she might like to read it. Now, I don't think so. This story isn't light entertainment, its something you experience. If you want a black and white hero story, go elsewhere. If you want a story that can pull you in, wring you out, and leave you feeling like you have really been through something, then read this. This is good, strong stuff. If it makes you a little sick, don't say I didn't warn you.
I will mention that the book, being a narrative from the point of view of main character, flows much better than the typical multi-party fantasy novel that has to hop from person to person to keep things synchronized. The flow is so strong I literally had difficulty putting the books down, stealing any spare minute I could to read just one more page. Thank goodness it was only a trilogy - I wasn't getting near enough sleep.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
An avid reader of fantasy, I was delighted to discover Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy. Hobbs is no Tolkein or Martin but she has created a world that is compelling as well as convincing. Her remarkable sensitivity towards her characters and the issues they face caused some people to abandon the novels, complaining that they were too slow or whiny, but other readers found her voice unique and soothing.

You might want to look into the Farseer Trilogy if you enjoy...

1) Interesting magic. The telepathic magic in Fitz Chivalry's world - Skill and Wit - are interesting breaks from the spell-casting, and Hobbs give a detailed and compelling description of their history, power and (most importantly) pitfalls.

2) Political intrigue. Nothing as intense as Dune or the Song of Ice and Fire series, but enough political schemes, treachery, betrayal and complex diplomatic relationships to make you recognize that this is not a "kiddy" book.

3) Convincing, vivid characters. Many of the characters are well written and developed, especially Kettricken, Verity and the Fool.

4) Psychological struggles and themes. Hobb's strength is how she dares to present complex issues and themes in her novels. The stories explore the meaning of love, honor, privacy, and the dilemma of loyalty: whether it is "loyal" to obey a sick/corrupted king or act in your own judgment for the kingdom's own good.

You might want to avoid Farseer if...

1) You like action and violence. As another reader had written, this book is relationship-based and not action-based. There is action, of course - battles against the red ships - but they are not written to be graphic in nature.
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Ever since I read George Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series (at least, what was available at the time), I was looking for some kind of "middle ground" between fun and enjoyable, light fantasy the likes of Salvatore or early Goodkind and the heavy, ambitious, but nevertheless sometimes overwhelming saga created by Martin. In Hobb's literature, I believe I've found that middle ground.

First of all, a warning. This isn't a book that starts very fast-paced. At the start, it looks like it will develop along the ever-popular "young hero grows up, received training, becomes the most powerful wizard/fighter/whatever in the world", but this is certainly not it. Hobb does break a lot of genre cliches in her writing - this is one of the things that really makes her works valuable.

What Hobb has, which is also the domain of Martin's writing and is missing from a majority of fantasy books, is an uncanny ability to create characters with a convincing psychological profile. Her characters actually feel real and unique at the same time, the title character is not the "typical fantasy assassin", but that doesn't make him less "flesh and blood". On the contrary - I'd say that out of all fantasy novels I've read, Hoob's characters are the most "flesh and blood" to me, surpassing even Martin.

Then again, I promised middle ground. Hobb excels where Martin stays a bit behind - at constructing action and propelling the events ahead. Reading the book, I actually felt that there was something happening all the time, that all the events were somehow linked and actually had importance. If you manage to engage yourself in the novels, I guarantee you that you will spend many long evenings following the adventures of Fitz and company.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This review refers to the whole series: Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy is very different from any other fantasy book you've ever read. The main difference is that it's not action-packed or even action-based. Oh, there's a lot of royal-court plotting and murder, there are battles and journies to distant lands, there is magic and magical creatures and all the other stuff you've learned to expect in a fantasy work - but somehow it's not the main thing, as is evident from the relatively slow-pacing of the plot. So if you're looking for a Robert Jordan kind of action-thriller - you better move on. But if you're an adult (emotionally, that is) and looking for something more substantial and profound - you've found the right book. The Farseer trilogy, as I have already said, is not action-based. Instead, it is charcter-based and relationship-based. it is concerned with the process of a young boy's maturing and becoming a man and an adult (in an environment which is mostly hostile) more than it is concerned with the machinations of a royal court, or the hero's training as a royal assasin. It depicts in great accuracy and detail the relationships between the hero and those around him - various father-figures, the women in his life, his enemies, and the animals he becomes magically attached to. In a sense, it is the most "realistic" fantasy novel i've ever read - not because the world described in the books is realistic, but because the relationships described seem "real": Hobb employs real feelings and gives them psychological depth, her heroes experience real love and real hate, which are often hard' complicated, ambiguous, and have moral aspects that make them even harder. Not the adolescent clear-cut love/hate we've learned to expect from fantasy heroes.Read more ›
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