Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Review: "Assassin's Fate" by Robin Hobb

Since I suspect it will be my last trip with FitzChivalry Farseer, I put off reading Robin Hobb’s “Assassin’s Fate” ($32, Del Rey). Then, when I finally began, I took it slowly to savor this last journey.

Fitz and the Fool, masquerading in his Amber character, open the story in the Rain Wilds, on their journey to avenge the death of Fitz’s daughter Bee at the hands of the Servants of Clerres. Ravaged by grief, Fitz plans to bring the city down around its prophets and go out in a blaze of glory.

Unbeknownst to our favorite assassin, though, Bee is still alive. She’s held captive by a Servant named Dwalia and her minion Vindeliar, who can control minds. Dwalia is convinced that Fitz’s daughter is the Unexpected Son of prophecy, and she must bring her to Clerres to wring secrets from her and regain her standing among the Servants. Bee believes that her father has given up on her and put the Fool ahead of her. She’s beaten and abused, but not broken.

Meanwhile, as he usually does, the Fool is playing his own game in addition to helping Fitz seek revenge.

“Assassin’s Fate” ultimately brings Fitz’s story to a rousing conclusion, though I have to say that I found his portion of the tale slightly less satisfying than Bee’s. As saddened as I am by it, I did think a few times in th story that perhaps it is time to let Fitz go. As readers who have followed him since his childhood, we know what he and the Fool are capable of, and there was little doubt that when they set their mind to it, they were going to accomplish what they set out to do somehow. We, or at least I, have reached a point with them where my faith is unshakeable, so there’s not as much drama as with Bee, who is a relative unknown.

While Fitz seems to dawdle a little on his way to Clerres (some of it not entirely in his control, to be fair), Bee’s story is urgent and breathless. Her danger, misery and confusion is far more real and visceral. In many ways, I think Bee’s story in “Assassin’s Fate” parallels Fitz’s tale in the early books and gifts his daughter with many of the reasons that we came to love him as a character. Despite her tortured existence with Dwalia and plenty of opportunities to give up, with the help of the spirit of Nighteyes, who she calls Wolf Father, she becomes a fighter, a survivor, a warrior.

I don’t think “Assassin’s Fate” is a perfect book by any means. As I said, Fitz’s portion of the tale, at least for the first half of the book, seems to drag a bit. And I also think that the wrap-up at the end takes a little too long (nearly 200 pages from the climax of the action to the story’s conclusion). Perhaps, like me, Hobb also took her time to savor the last journey with Fitz and the Fool. That’s understandable, and the writing, even in that, is so strong that I don’t mind all that much.

Hobb proves herself still one of the best at her craft, and this provides a fitting and satisfying end to the tale that we started more than 20 years ago.


No comments: