Not long after completing the first book in the Farseer trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice, I picked up the second, Royal Assassin, and was glad to find it just as great as the first.
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.
The plot in this installment is much richer. Fitz is now a young man developing more meaningful relationships that will have greater impact on his standing at court, and his actions carry greater consequences in his life and that of those who are close to him.
The threat of the Red Ships is more palpable as they strike more frequently and Verity expends his energy in protecting the kingdom’s shores, and Regal is gaining more influence at court as the king slowly withers away. There’s much in play, which heightens the reader’s expectations, making her wonder how the story will end. (I am a very impatient person so I took a peek at Wikia but stopped myself before I could seriously spoil myself on what will happen next.)
It’s hard for me to write a reflection of this installment without including spoilers so…
Spoilers abound below because I’m going to rant and rave about this book. Skip to the Overall section below.
This installment was as gripping as the first despite the slow pace. I was constantly worried about Shrewd’s depleting health, Fitz’s relationship with Molly, and Verity’s constant use of the Skill (Was he getting addicted?). They all seemed to be heading to a bad end and I didn’t feel better when Verity decided to seek the Elderlings himself (I bet Regal was elated to hear that!). I thought he would have sent Fitz or some other ambassador. Though it is his duty to protect his kingdom and it makes sense that it should be the king or the king-in-waiting who seeks the Elderlings’ help, I think Verity also made that decision based on pride.
That decision made it easier for Regal to grab the throne. It’s obvious that Regal wants the throne and I think it was a major error of King Shrewd’s not to reprimand Regal in some way about his actions in the Mountain Kingdom in the previous book. I think Verity and Shrewd should have reeled him in a bit. They gave him too much freedom and Shrewd was too blind to see that his youngest son is a horrible person.
It annoyed me that the most influential characters practically stood by while Regal stole the throne. Fitz was too busy getting laid, Chade was busy trying to figure out the Red Ships and the Forged ones and keeping the king alive while spinning his spying webs (Is he the only spy at Buckkeep?), and Verity was preoccupied with the Skill and trying to protect the kingdom’s coasts. Only the Fool noticed and tried to warn them, but no one took heed.
Much as I dislike Regal, I commend him for being sneaky and undermining all who are against him. His plans went almost without a hitch — Kettricken and the Fool escaped him — and he had scapegoats in abundance to lay the blame on for unfortunate occurrences. By the end of this installment, I was so frustrated with the characters that I considered Regal the smartest of them all.
I’m still upset with them.
Toward the end of the story, I began to suspect that Regal is conspiring with the Red Ships. Why else would he willingly give up Buckkeep, the seat of the kingdom? Sure he is lazy and is more interested in the glamour of ruling rather than the responsibilities that come with it, but he is also very greedy. I don’t think he would easily give up parts of the kingdom unless he had made a deal with those who threaten those areas.
I still don’t understand why he hates Fitz so much. Aren’t there other bastards about the castle? And shouldn’t he be happy for Fitz’s existence since it got one brother out of the running for the throne? What is it about Fitz that Regal hates? I cringed while reading about the beatings and mind attacks Fitz endured toward the end of this installment. (BTW, it’s a wonder Fitz doesn’t crazy migraines daily since there is so much going on in his head what with his mind attachments to Nighteyes and Verity.) I forgot that the story is narrated by Fitz and began to get anxious that he might die. I was so worried.
But enough about Regal. And I won’t say anything more about Fitz, Verity, or Chade (except why must everyone think Fitz is dead now? Why? Wwwhhhyyyyy???) because much as I like them, they annoyed me. Burrich is still a bur in Fitz’s backside. I missed him a little in this installment. I don’t like his love triangle, though, simply because I don’t like love triangles. Lady Patience is still my favorite character and her maid, Lacy, is a badass. They are awesome! Kettricken is still great and showed that she is a great leader. And I was so sorry for Molly. It seems like a simple life with Fitz is impossible. Nighteyes, Fitz’s wolf, is my new favorite character. I love his dialogue with Fitz, especially at times when Fitz doesn’t want him lurking in his mind or when the wolf doesn’t understand something Fitz is trying to explain.
Though the pace in this installment is much slower, it was still a wonderful read and the story got more interesting as it developed. I really enjoyed reading Fitz’s battle scenes, especially that last attack he did at the end at the ball. I laughed at one point.
This installment is better than the first. We get stronger plot and character development and got to learn more about the fantasy world and the Fool as well. I am eager to see how the story will wrap up in the next book, Assassin’s Quest, which I am currently buddy reading with Embuhlee liest. 😛
I’d love to know how the Forging will be resolved and how the Red Ships will be defeated. I’d also like to know if Verity will be successful in locating the Elderlings and if Fitz’s Wit abilities will be instrumental in the Elderlings helping the kingdom.
Quotes from the book:
“Men of passion and vision are often seen as mad.”
“But we are two old men, who have grown old together. Sometimes that is a greater closeness. We have come through time to your day and age. We can talk together, quietly, and share memories of a time that exists no more.”
“Some things may be learned from words on a page, but some skills are learned first by a man’s hands and heart, and later by his head.”