I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb (spoilers). It’s the last book in The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy. If you’re familiar with Robin Hobb’s work, then you know this isn’t a stand-alone trilogy, either. It is in fact the third trilogy set in the Six Duchies and featuring FitzChivalry Farseer as the narrator and protagonist, the first being The Farseer Trilogy, followed by The Tawny Man Trilogy. Other series belong in this world as well, though they tell other stories, in The Liveship Traders Trilogy and The Rain Wild Chronicles.
I first began reading Robin Hobb a couple of years ago, and I immediately devoured the stories of the bastard prince turned assassin’s apprentice. The world of the Six Duchies captured and enthralled me. It was a surprise to discover the new series out, and endlessly frustrating to not be able to read it. See, I have a problem. I don’t like beginning a series if I can’tread the entire thing straight through (I made that mistake with Game of Thrones, now I’m chomping at the bit for the next book). I vowed to wait until the trilogy was completed before I started it. Assassin’s Fate was released in May of this year, so I put it on hold and checked out the first two books, Fool’s Assassin and Fool’s Quest. I waited to hear that Assassin’s Fate was ready for me to pick up, but the email never came. That was when I learned something important about my new library system in the middle of nowhere. Our town library doesn’t carry Robin Hobb, so the request had to be sent to outside libraries for a loan. However, none of those libraries lend their books for the first six months after release. So there I was, two books down, dying to know what happens, and unable to secure book three.
Fast forward to now, when I finally have my hands on a copy. I’ve done little else for the past three days (I haven’t even been writing, it’s so hard to tear my mind away). I’m nearly 3/4 done, and I want to share my thoughts with you.
It’s difficult for me to see Fitz portrayed as an older man. We’re first introduced to him as a child, and we watch him grow into a man capable of anything. He’s trained by the king’s assassin, and develops skills and abilities that allow him to pass unnoticed, bend others to his will, and physically conquer any task. As this series begins, Fitz is living a comfortable life in the country with his family, and has lost his assassin’s edge. It’s a different Fitz than the one I fell in love with. He’s working hard to recover those lost skills, but it’s been an adjustment for me. The Fool is also not the man he used to be. His changes are not due to age, but rather the cruelty and the torture he has endured. The changes in both men strain their relationship, and it hurts me to see them at odds with each other.
This series also does something unique. The book isn’t told entirely from Fitz’s perspective. His little daughter, Bee, is added as a narrator. There’s value in this, and her story is important and fascinating, but it takes time away from telling Fitz’s tale. Fitz is the one I want to follow, and I miss him when I reading about Bee.
There’s significantly less magic used in this series. The Skill and The Wit, both inherited magics, play a huge role in developing Fitz’s character, and are thoroughly explored in The Farseer Trilogy. They were somewhat diminished in The Tawny Man Trilogy, and have nearly disappeared altogether. The characters talk about them some, but they are rarely used by Fitz anymore. I miss these as well. His use of the magics was an interesting aspect of his character, and their absence lessens him. Makes him more normal, but he has never been a normal man, and I don’t like the effort put into making him normal.
Many things about this series confuse me, and I believe that’s because Fitz and The Fool leave the Six Duchies and travel far. They interact with the liveship traders from Bingtown, the Pirate Isles, and the dragons in the Rain Wilds. I haven’t read these books, but I assume the people they meet and the tales they tell are contained in these books. The characters know (or at least know of) these new additions, but I’m left feeling lost. It’s my fault for not reading the other books, but I didn’t expect them to intersect in quite this way.
I also miss Nighteyes. He’s been gone since the beginning of The Tawny Man Trilogy, and with him any desire for Fitz to use his Wit. The wolf completed Fitz in ways that are now gaping, and his insights helped to hone Fitz’s skills. He was wise, and gentle, and fully embraced living in the moment. He saved Fitz’s life on multiple occasions and only enhanced the story. After building up Fitz’s Wit and bring Nighteyes into his life, I don’t understand why Robin Hobb would leave such a position unfilled. I get Nighteyes dying, logically. These books span decades, and a single wolf just cannot live through that. But why she allow Fitz to remain unpaired and his Wit to wither I just don’t know.
There are more things I could write. As I said, I love these books, and they’re so complicated and involved that I could never attempt to fully dissect them. If you’ve read them let me know your thoughts in the comments.