Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Assassin's Apprentice:The Farseer Trilogy, Book One, by Robin Hobb (author), Paul Boehmer (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781400164349, March 2010

Fitz is the illegitimate son of the late Prince Chivalry, raised on the fringes of the court, and apprentice to the royal assassin by the secret arrangement of King Shrewd. Royal bastards are always in a difficult position, and Fitz has a dangerous secret: in addition to the royal magic of the mind-bending Skill, he also possesses another magic, the despised and banned Wit, which honestly appears to be the same as the Skill, except it works on animals rather than people. Growing to manhood around the Court, he has to find for himself a safe path through the conflicts between the royal heir Prince Verity, his unSkilled younger half-brother Regal, and the Skill Master Galen, not to mention the attacks of the Red Ship barbarians and the dangers of the Forged ones, robbed of their human qualities by the barbarians and turned loose again to prey on their own countrymen.

And of course, as a royal bastard, Fitz can't altogether escape suspicion that he might himself be a threat to the throne.

Sent on his first major mission, as part of the expedition to bring back the mountain princess whom Prince Regal has negotiated for to be his brother Prince Verity's bride, Fitz is riding into a trap intended to bring down him, his friends, and one of the royal brothers.

Despite occasionally tripping over the names, a mix of virtues and traits never used as names in English, mixed with utterly mundane, ordinary names like Mary and Tom, this has the feel of a lived-in culture, and the characters, especially Fitz but not only him, have real problems to struggle with. It's an extra bonus that the dogs, most notably Smithy and Nosy, also feel real, and their personalities and loyalty add an extra dimension to the book. This is a very nicely done fantasy, with a suspenseful plot that draws you in.

Note to Becki: If you decide to read a fantasy novel--not this one. It breaks your rule.

Recommended, for everyone except Becki, who knows who she is.

I borrowed this book from a friend.

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