Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: "Fool's Assassin" by Robin Hobb

It’s been a little while since we’ve caught up with FitzChivalry Farseer. At the end of 2003’s “Fool’s Fate,” it seemed that his tale might be done. But 11 years later, Robin Hobb returns to the tale of our favorite reluctant royal bastard assassin in “Fool’s Assassin” ($28, Random House), the first volume of The Fitz and the Fool trilogy.

Fitz has retired to a quiet life at Withywoods as holder Tom Badgerlock. He’s married to his childhood love Molly and has little to do with the politics of Buckkeep Castle any more, even though his former mentor Chade Fallstar keeps trying to drag him back in.

While he misses his old friend, the Fool, terribly, life is mostly good for him, but things can change quickly and Fitz is about to be reminded of that.

I’ll apologize in advance for some convoluted vagueness in the rest of the review, but I really don’t want to give away any little details in this story. They’re best discovered along the way.

Hobb’s original Farseer Trilogy, released in the mid-to-late 1990s, remains one of my favorite fantasy trilogies ever. It was a set of stories that I found fascinating and inspiring, largely because of her deft hand at characterization and her ability to turn words on the page into real emotions for the reader. She’s lost none of that talent over the years.

Hobb delivers moments of pure joy, along with some truly gut-wrenching moments of tragedy. Each one leaves the reader wanting more.

We’re introduced to a very interesting new character that Fitz has to deal with who shares a lot of the traits of the younger version of himself – from his curiosity to his stubbornness to his occasionally downright frustrating woe-is-me attitude. I think it will be quite interesting as the story moves forward to see how Fitz handles this character that is, in many ways, a mirror image of his younger self.

Much time has passed since we last saw Fitz, but Hobb does an excellent job of filling in the details without it getting in the way of the story.

There’s also much in “Fool’s Assassin” that reminds me of that original trilogy – the same air of freshness, the same bits of quirkiness here and there, the same strong emotional connection. Most notably, I closed the book once again wishing that I could write something even half that good.

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