Plot: Fitz is a bastard. More than that, he is the bastard of a prince, who subsequently abdicated his right to the throne. This puts him in an unusual position; he can’t be left to his own devices, nor can he be treated too well.
Fitz obtains various tutors. He is taught to fight, to read, to use magic and become an assassin. While he excels at some, fate (and his tutors) wish him to fail at others. Plus the kingdom is under threat and Fitz doesn’t know who is trying to help and who is trying to kill him!
Quote: `You are the King’s man now. And you must begin to understand, now, right now, that that is the most important thing about you.`
Opinion: I have wanted to read Robin Hobb for years and somehow never quite got around to it. I was so excited about reading this book, part of me was worried it would let me down. Luckily, it was just as good as I had hoped and I am now eagerly awaiting the next one.
The plot swept me up instantly. While many stories involve a boy trying to find his place, not many include learning how to use the Skill (getting into other people’s heads) or the forbidden Wit (connecting with animals). They are also not taught how to be assassins. Intrigue lead to absorption, which lead to pure enjoyment throughout the book! From people with their souls sucked out to the political games of princes vesting for power, it has it all. Stuck in the middle of it all is a young boy who just wants to know he has a place where he belongs. Perfect!
The characters are powerful, and not just with magic. Fitz has such an innocent nature despite his talents that it is impossible not to empathise with him; all the boy wants is a friend! Verity commands respect from the reader as well as the other characters and there is more to Burrich than has been covered in this book, of that I am certain. While Chade is the mysterious one cloaked in shadows, there is something vulnerable and human about him that stops him from being too elusive – the Fool occupies that role more successfully.
This book was a page-turner for me. While the narration is chronological, it weaves around a little to give hints of what is still to come. The pacing was strong the whole way through; Fitz faces plenty of danger to keep you on guard, but it is never too extreme where everything he does results in trouble.
Any book that makes me laugh and cry is certainly a well-written one. Pure enjoyment is the best way to describe this book – it made you anxious, it made you laugh, it made you sad and it had you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. The second was on order before I finished the first, so definitely a recommendation from here!