Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

A review by Nalini Haynes

Fool’s Assassin is book 1 of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, set after the Farseer trilogy, the Liveship Traders trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles, written by the internationally-renowned Robin Hobb. This is one story that would be easier to follow if you’ve at least read the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies if not all the aforementioned stories.

FitzChivalry, the bastard son of former King-in-Waiting Chivalry, was trained as an assassin to serve Farseer kings. After decades of service, he stepped aside to enjoy his declining years with his beloved Molly, raising her children and care-taking Withywoods estate, his inheritance given to his bastard daughter Nettle.

In her declining years, Molly has an unexpected child. She is pregnant for at least a couple of years so everyone believes she is losing her mind. Then, one night, she gives birth to a tiny child whom she calls Bee.

Like the Farseer trilogy, Fool’s Assassin begins with Fitz narrating the story. At times he pontificates and expands his story, telling it as he might have written in a journal. Some chapters are from other characters’ points of view, like Bee’s.

Although I enjoyed the varied viewpoints, at times this was confusing because the preamble preceding each chapter does not necessarily indicate who is telling the story. However, each preamble is like a miniature prologue, usually giving information that is important or sheds light on that chapter.

Fool’s Assassin is a slow-burning build to the end of the novel, which ends with a WTF moment followed by Fitz’s obliviousness. (How many times has Fitz been oblivious in Hobb’s writing? ) Fool’s Quest will induce much rage in Fitz when he realises what’s happened. I expect blood will flow. In copious quantities.

But I have been known to be wrong.

I am personally attached to the Fitz and the Fool as characters, partly because I identified with the Fitz’s upbringing (not the assassin bit!) and partly because I was intrigued by the Fool. I’m still hooked; I suspect I’ll have to read all the Hobb stories, a bit like I’m still reading the Dresden Files. Part of me wanted Hobb to end the Fitz stories, purely because I wanted Fitz to have a happy retirement and to cease to ‘live in interesting times’. However, the Fool is not quite human and will be long-lived and the Fitz is also enjoying a protracted middle-age; I guess their ongoing adventures are inevitable.

And now they have to deal with the aftermath of Fool’s Assassin.

I confess, I almost want the Fitz to cause blood to flow, somewhat like the spice must flow.

Similar in flavour to the Farseer trilogy, the Fitz and the Fool trilogy is shaping up to be just as popular. It’s like Game of Thrones but with less sex and rape. Also, Hobb is kinder to readers: she doesn’t kill all your favourite characters. Sure, some die, but — well, both the Fitz and the Fool are still alive. Maybe not well, but they’re alive.

Read Fool’s Assassin. Tell me what YOU think. Don’t read the comments if you don’t want spoilers.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9780007444199
ISBN 10: 0007444192
Format: paperback, also available in ebook, 576 pages
Imprint: Voyager – GB (HarperCollins)
BISAC1: Fiction & related items / Fantasy
Fool's Assassin golden cover with gothic title, the first letter is illuminated, a flag to the right of the page