Title: Royal Assassin
Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher: Harper Voyager, 1996
Plot: Having survived the attempt on his life in the mountains, Fitz journeys back to Buck Keep to face Regal. But revenge is forbidden for Fitz and he must adapt to life the best he can. Finding love only complicates things further.
When Verity – his prince and protector – travels Inland to find a mysterious power to free the Six Duchies from the Raiders, Fitz is more alone than ever. Treason is in the air and Fitz must accept what kind of man he is to save those he cares about. It may not be enough to save his own life.
Quote: “No. This isn’t what I would chose for him. This isn’t what I would choose for myself. Would that he had been born in better times! Would that he had been born in a marriage bed, and my brother still upon the throne! But I was not given that situation, nor was he.”
Opinion: Having thoroughly enjoyed the Assassin’s Apprentice, I was looking forward to the Royal Assassin. Robin Hobb drew me in with her characters and world-building and I was eager to see where the plot would go next.
The pacing of this book was not as swift as the first. At many points, not a lot seemed to be happening other than Fitz going through crisis after crisis as to what sort of man he was. This didn’t deter me though: second books in a trilogy are often the slump and the character development can seem forced.
The characters all grew in this second book of The Farseer Trilogy. As mentioned, Fitz spent most of the book moping – what was he to do, who was he to be – the usual questions for a young protagonist in over his head. Chade remained cloaked in mystery, while Verity was shown in a more capable light. Molly was a strong character in her own right, but was only there to add to Fitz’s dilemma.
The true character change came from Burrich. Not a change in his behaviour, but just the way Fitz sees him and the clues we are giving about Burrich’s past. I knew from Assassin’s Apprentice there was more to him than we were being told.
Despite several parts of the book seeming to pass without any plot progression, I was still caught up in the story. By the end, I was utterly gripped again and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Hobb definitely whacks up the tension right at the end of the book, making the dragging parts in the middle seem even slower paced! That being said, the development and internal struggles in this book make me feel it could be an explosive third book now Fitz knows who he is and what he is capable of.
All in all, this was a strong second book, even if not as powerful as the first. The characters were strong and, for the most part, the tension kept you gripped. A typical middle book to a trilogy really.