Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb
Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.
Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A lot of books suffer when they are the second installment in a trilogy. This book is an obvious setup for the third and final edition but it doesn’t fall into the common trap and is a very good read in its own right.
The crucial element of Fitz’s nature and magic, his Wit abilities, finally come to the fore and in a fantastically well described relationship with Nighteyes, a relationship that eventually both damns and saves him.
Two other important influences on Fitz are his relationships with Burrich and Chade. The former suffered tremendously in Book 1 but they manage to restore that and eventually it develops into a true friendship rather than just one of master and apprentice.
A similar development takes place with Fitz and Chade but on a different level as Chade is absent for a lot of the story forcing Fitz to make decisions on his own when he really needed advice from his old mentor. When he does return it is to find a much changed and more mature Fitz, one he is forced to accept as a colleague as much as an apprentice.
The two problems I have with this book are Fitz’s relationship with Molly. It’s a constant through most of the story but adds nothing. Having read the trilogy before I know where it’s heading and why the author treated their relationship this way but frankly it’s an annoyance in an otherwise great storyline.
The second issue is Royal and his usurpation of Buckkeep and eventually the throne. I find it very difficult to believe that Shrewd and Verity would have allowed it to happen so easily despite their individual distractions. I also find it difficult to believe that Chade was so powerless and that the Coastal Duchies permitted him to treat them in such a way. However, the political machinations were a real pleasure to read, how he manipulated the court and all around him for his own ends and how he managed to gain the power he craved. Seeing him brought low (hopefully!) in the final installment will almost be as enjoyable for me as it will be for Fitz!