Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Fitz and the Fool Book One
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(Spoilers for the Farseer Trilogy, Liveship Traders Trilogy, Tawny Man Trilogy, and the Rain Wild Chronicles are below).
At 47 years of age, FitzChivalry Farseer is finally living the life he's always wanted to live. Married to the love of his life Molly, and retired to peace and quiet at his stepmother's home of Withywoods, Fitz spends his days embracing the ordinary and non-political life of being a Farseer. But over the next thirteen years, Fitz will be unable to escape his past, and when it finally catches up with him, the consequences will be dire.
How many books can be written about one character? Fitz had a perfect ending at the end of the Farseer Trilogy. And while I enjoyed the Tawny Man Trilogy, and it stood strongly on its own, there were a few times where it felt like the story was designed just to bring back a fan favorite character. But the ending was pretty conclusive, and I didn't think I'd be seeing Fitz, at least not in a starring role, again. But I was wrong, and here we are, here's another trilogy starring FitzChivalry Farseer.
Taking place over the span of thirteen years, Fool's Assassin is really focused on the ordinary life Fitz has been living at Withywoods. Occasionally, he gets caught up in a Farseer adventure, but a lot of these are short stories that are interspersed throughout. It is a nice way to add some action into what's a pretty steady plot, especially by fantasy standards.
Like in the Tawny Man Trilogy, a lot of prominent characters from Fitz's past make their way into the story, which of course bring forward the emotionally intense conversations that Robin Hobb is so adept at writing. And Fitz is set up for plenty of those, especially with Nettle, the daughter he essentially abandoned, and with Riddle her lover and Fitz's former companion in the Tawny Man books. Kettricken, Dutiful, Elliana, and Chade make appearances, but they mostly play minor roles.
There are plenty of new characters as Fitz finds himself opening his house up to refugees that Chade wants to have protected. The most notable of which are FitzVigilant, a rich man's bastard with a target on his back who doesn't have what it takes to be an assassin. And of course there is Shun, another bastard with a target on her back, but with the upbringing of a spoiled rich child. These additions provide plenty of headaches for Fitz, but no new character addition is as significant as Bee. Bee is a young child that ages slowly and initially doesn't speak, but she is a very lovable character. Most significantly she becomes the first character not named Fitz to narrate in a Fitz book, and her first chapter is a shocker in more ways than one.
Despite the provincial atmosphere, the undertones to Fool's Assassin are very dark, and by the time the story reaches its conclusion, it's clear that Hobb has opened the door to what will probably be the darkest series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. As for being a Fitz novel, this is the best one I've read starring the character, and a lot of the credit has to go the time he splits narration with Bee. If this continues this could very well be Hobb's best trilogy.