Assassin’s Quest (Farseer Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb
King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz—or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest—perhaps to death. Only Verity’s return—or the heir his princess carries—can save the Six Duchies.
But Fitz will not wait. Driven by loss and bitter memories, he undertakes a quest: to kill Regal. The journey casts him into deep waters, as he discovers wild currents of magic within him—currents that will either drown him or make him something more than he was.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is a complex book to review. It’s very powerfully written but in many ways it’s a difficult read. Some elements of it could do with improvement (Fitz journey to Tradeford being a prime example) and our “hero” Fitz really doesn’t have the happy ending he deserves.
I found the journey through the mountains and the scenes in the quarry (especially the creation of the dragon) difficult to get through. They were slow and full of far too much introspection to make them enjoyable. Fitz suffered through this time and it comes through in the writing which makes it hard to experience.
A few old characters are pretty much dropped from the story. While Burrich is there at the beginning and we see a huge development in the relationship between him and Fitz, he is only a minor player in the second and third sections of the book. Chade pops up now and again but is barely more than a minor character while Molly is pretty much relegated to the background and Patience only gets passing mentions.
A few new characters are introduced. Some of the minor ones are poorly structured constructs for Fitz’s story and quite disappointing. The minstrels on the way to Tradeford and the young girl from the travelling actors on the way to Blue Lake being the worst of all.
Some others are much more interesting, Kettle being the best of them. I’ve seen other reviewers criticise how the author deals with her and her vague warnings to Fitz but it’s obvious to the reader who she is. Her gradual and then reluctant full reveal is very well handled and left me wanting to read more about her back story.
Starling is the other interesting character. She is a deeply wounded person and has become desperate to secure a future for herself by writing the song that will get her a home to grow old in. She flip flops through the story between betrayal and use of Fitz for her own ends to being his friend and supporter. She’s not a nice person overall but, like Fitz, I couldn’t help but warm to her. The author returns to Fitz in future stories and I hope to see more of Starling.
The Fool is back! As well as bringing in new characters the author takes some old, existing characters and makes them the star. Although Fitz is definitely the focus of the trilogy he couldn’t be Fitz without the Fool. The development of their relationship and the growth of the Fool’s character is wonderfully well written and is one of the main strengths of this book. There are so many facets to the character of the Fool that make him so likeable but I won’t go into any of them here as they would all be spoilers.
Finally, the only true friend that Fitz has is Nighteyes. He is his constant and his saviour. One of the discussions Fitz has is concerns about how Nighteyes is developing human characteristics but Nighteyes brushes it off and comments that it is the same for Fitz who has become wolf like in many ways. The power of the bond between them is never ending and becomes stronger all through the book. Although the story starts with how Fitz owes his physical life to Nighteyes it’s clear that he also owes his mental health to him. Nighteyes is the most fascinating and likeable character through all 3 books and even more so in this final installment.
I would like to see the author develop some of the smaller stories into a compilation of short stories or novellas. Kettle and Starling’s back stories and Nighteyes time with the wolf pack would be my Top 3 requests so far, closely followed by the briefly mentioned time with Rolf learning about the Old Blood.
Fitz’s story is definitely not finished, there are two more trilogies to come, but this story is finished. So many books try and drag on their stories and end up killing them but this is a satisfying end with the scope of more to come satisfying everyone. I’m very glad I returned to this trilogy after having read it many years ago.