Fitz, the illegitimate son of the noble prince Chivalry, is brought to live in the care of the stablemaster at Buckkeep, the home of the royal family of the kingdom of Six Duchies. The boy lives at the stables, among horses, hounds and other animals, being practically invisible in the eyes of the royal court… until the day his grandfather, King Shrewd, takes notice of him, deciding that Fitz would be trained to become an assassin to serve the royal family of the Farseers.
While Fitz is trained in the arts of an assassin, trouble is brewing in the kingdom of Six Duchies. Barbaric raiders on red ships ravage the coasts, and not everything seems to be as it should be within the royal court, either. From there, things go rapidly downhill, as misfortune after another befalls the kingdom (and especially Fitz) — and eventually, Fitz must embark on a quest that will ultimately determine the destiny of the kingdom and the whole world.
The journey I travelled with Fitz was quite a long one. I read Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book of the Farseer Trilogy, in 2011, and the second one, Royal Assassin, a year after that. The third book had to wait for its turn for a long time, and it wasn’t until November 2015 that I finally picked up Assassin’s Quest. I did like reading these books, and that’s why I am quite surprised that now, after finishing the whole trilogy, my feelings are very mixed — and that, first and foremost, I feel disappointed.
I believe the final book of the trilogy is mostly to blame for this. The first two books had their weaker points as well, but nothing I couldn’t deal with. Overall, I felt there were a lot of things that kept the books from being truly great, but be it as it may, I liked them. I liked the mystery of the horrifying red raiders and the shadow their presence cast over everything. I liked the way magical abilities were depicted as unglamorous and even hazardous, and I liked the Fool in particular. But I’m still not quite sure if the good parts of these books balance out the weaker points…
In these books we follow the story from the viewpoint of Fitz. At first his melancholic musings were pleasing to read, but after a while it began to sound almost whiny. Not that I blame Fitz for whining and wallowing in misery — he is without doubt one of the most abused characters I’ve ever come across! Fitz gets brutally beaten up time after time, both physically and emotionally. He just isn’t allowed to be happy, apart from a few fleeting moments that only seem to exist so they could be taken away in a way that causes as much suffering as possible. At first I felt some sympathy for Fitz, but there came a point after which I stopped really caring. There were just too much bad luck for one character for it to seem believable!
Sometimes I wished that I could go and slap the characters, not just Fitz, for being so blatantly ignorant and even downright slow and stupid at times. I didn’t really care for the antagonists, either — if the bad guys must be made awfully dim-witted and one-dimensional in order to the good guys to appear bright in comparison, something is wrong. Also, it often took a lot of time to get the plot moving. Wondering why nothing is happening became very familiar to me while reading this trilogy.
Then, the weakest point of all: Assassin’s Quest, the third book of the trilogy. The whole thing felt so terribly half-arsed and I couldn’t help thinking that the writer had given up on the story altogether. The progress of the storyline in the final book was agonisingly slow, and most of the book seemed like a prolonged description of travelling from one place to another. Things only began going forward in (literally) the final pages of the book, and the ending was probably one of the most disappointing ones I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading. Which is a shame, because the book wasn’t completely awful — there were some interesting things and parts that I did enjoy reading.
I hoped these books would have been better, and I wish I would have been able to like them more. That being said, I can still imagine myself reading the Tawny Man trilogy at some point, mostly so that I can find out more about Fool, who turned out to be my favourite character in these books.
Even though the Farseer Trilogy was not as wonderful as I would have hoped it to be, I have given it three skulls as a rating. Two and a half might be closer to my opinion, but I am feeling kind.
= They were okay.
Robin Hobb: Assassin’s Apprentice (HarperVoyager, 2007. 480 pages.)
Robin Hobb: Royal Assassin (HarperVoyager, 2007. 751 pages.)
Robin Hobb: Assassin’s Quest (HarperVoyager, 2007. 838 pages.)
(Books One, Two & Three of The Farseer Trilogy)