|For those of us who have read and enjoyed the Farseer
and Tawny Man trilogies there was always one question left hanging
whatever happened to the Fool? Fitz and the Fool promises
to answer that question, although in typical Hobb style this first volume spends much of
its time setting up the story and characters for subsequent volumes. The Fool only enters
towards the end, and seems to have been as ill-used as Fitz ever was.
Assassin takes up the story of Fitzchivalry Farseer (or rather Tom
Badgerlock) after his retirement to Withywoods with the love of his life
Molly. Fitz is as loyal, well-meaning, and as hopeless as ever, and it is great to
settle in to a good read about a part of his life which is happy he has earned it.
The birth of Bee Badgerlock adds a new dimension to their lives and you slowly realise
that Bee is far more than she seems though of course Tom has no clue. The reader,
however, has no doubt mainly because the structure of the story shifts from
Toms musings to include a second voice that of Bee, who quickly becomes
someone you care about.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting back into Fitzs world, reacquainting myself with his
wolf, Chade, and all the others I found that I had missed them. For me, Fools
Assassin was a great entrée I have great hopes for the main course.
Okay, it is without a doubt, a fantasy brick. Its a good 4cm thick,
over six hundred pages, and the first of a new sequence in an on-going series. But it
didnt take nearly as long to read as I expected. Theres something about Robin
Hobbs prose that just draws me in and makes me want to keep reading. Her characters
really come alive for me, and there arent so many of them that the reader becomes
confused. Nor does she insist on killing them off just as soon as they get interesting!
People die, certainly, but only when their part in the story is done. Her narrative is
linear, it doesnt duck and dive all over time and space, even though she chooses to
use two narrators in this novel. Oh, and she does nice maps, too!
The tale returns to the Six Duchies and focuses on FitzChivalry, now well
into his middle years, and known as Tom Badgerlock, lord of the country manor called
Withywoods. To say who else the story belongs to would give away about a quarter of the
plot, so Ill leave it at that. Suffice it to say that the title does finally make
sense around about p560 which is not coincidentally about where the excrement hits
the air conditioning
the pace picks up rapidly and things head towards a shocking
climax, and ends on something of a cliff-hanger. Suffice it to say that I really am going
to have to find the next part when it comes out, because I do need to find out what
happens next. If there is any criticism one could back it is simply that it does take
perhaps a few too many pages to get there, although I would be hard-pushed to suggest what
might have been edited out. All in all, a great read, and I doubt seriously that fans of
the Fitz will be disappointed.
- Jacqui Smith