“Fool’s Assassin” by Robin Hobb

I’ve been procrastinating on writing book reviews lately because of this novel. It was wonderful to return to Buckkeep and Fitz again, but much happens and I had so many feelings about it all that when I think about typing it all up, I felt overwhelmed and immediately sought something else to do. But here I am with my thoughts about Fool’s Assassin. I couldn’t put it off any longer because I have to start the second book soon. Of course, I’m buddy-reading it with Emily at Embuhlee liest. We’re nearing the end and we’re not happy about it. We want more.

Genre:

Fantasy

Series:

Fitz and the Fool, book 1
Realm of the Elderlings, book 14

Pubbed:

August 2014

Goodreads summary:

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe. (Goodreads)

My thoughts: (spoilers, of course)

Oh my gosh! There’s so much. My reading experience with Fool’s Assassin was kind of weird because it felt like not much happens although the book is long and Emily and I had a lot to say about its content. For me, I was first just glad to be back with Fitz, reading about him and reading from his perspective. I missed him and thought I would never see him again. I was a little upset at the end of the last book. Since Fitz hooked up again with Molly, I thought his adventuring days would be over, which, for me, sucks because Fitz on an adventure, especially with the Fool and Nighteyes, makes for a great read. It seems that this story/Hobb thought so too because Molly died, Fitz is still spry enough to kick ass and go adventuring, and his dear Bee, his daughter (his cub), got kidnapped. You know that means Fitz will be pissed the fuck off and will do anything to find her. CAN’T WAIT TO START THE NEXT BOOK!!!

As usual, this review will be in sections because that’s the best way for me to tackle my thoughts about this story. Starting with…

Fitz

It was great and refreshing to get a glimpse of Fitz happy and living life as he wants. It would have been even better if Nighteyes was there. Gosh, I miss Nighteyes almost as much as Fitz, and I can understand why Fitz doesn’t want to bond with another animal. No one can replace Nighteyes. But a dragon would be a great balm. Well, maybe not, but I still have hope that Fitz will bond with a dragon and become an Elderling. But knowing Fitz, he probably doesn’t want to live that long. His life has already been extended because of the Skill-healing and he finds that a nuisance, so it would be torture for him to be an Elderling.

As happy as I was to see Fitz again, I was also annoyed by him. It’s as if he deliberately avoided the many clues hinting that some shit was bout to pop off soon…ish. He wasn’t as vigilant as he once was or as curious about things. But that could have been the effect of family life on him: He got comfortable and complacent so some of his skills got a bit dull. To me, it’s as if the narrative kept sending out a tendril to entice Fitz to go adventuring but Fitz kept shaking it off because he was so wrapped up in Molly and Bee. I both liked that and was annoyed by it.

Btw, Fitz has some serious abandonment issues stemming from his childhood. He refuses to admit or realize how much his friends and family cares for him and often tests it by drawing away from them. It was nice, though, to see from his father’s letters and other communication with Patience and Verity how much Chivalry cared for his son, although he couldn’t make it known.

Molly

Who knew I’d like her? Not me! And who knew I would ship her and Fitz? Definitely not me! But I like the two together, or maybe it’s just that Fitz was finally happy and content so I accepted his bond with Molly.

I admire the woman Molly has become and love how her relationship with Fitz grows into her old age (Fitz doesn’t age much because of his Skill-healing). I felt sorry for her when no one believed she was pregnant and instead thought she was going a bit senile due to old age (she wasn’t even that old, just 50 or 60 or something). They instead indulged her “fantasy” so only Molly had to keep faith that she was indeed pregnant. The part where she asked Fitz to have faith in her about the pregnancy as he once asked her to have faith in him made my eyes prickle with tears. (It was so sweet.)

Bee

Ah, Bee. I don’t know how I feel about Bee, but for now I like her. I like how much she is like her parents. She has bits of both their personalities. I like how it’s subtly hinted early in the story that she has the Skill, the Wit, and is a White Prophet. The reader suspects this at times, but as the story goes on, we realize it’s true. She’s a triple threat. No wonder she’s hunted. Of course, Fitz would be involved in the birth of such an individual. Emily and I believe the Fool’s influence, probably from the connection he had with Fitz, is what caused Bee to be a White Prophet.

I also like how Bee and Fitz’s relationship gradually grows stronger and closer. I was worried about that at first and felt sorry for Fitz because Bee is so sensitive to the Skill that she can’t be physically close to someone who can Skill. I wonder how that bond will be affected now that Bee has been kidnapped, and how exactly does the Wolf Father concept work. It’s obvious that’s Nighteyes, but I wonder if Fitz will be able to tap into that…construction to check on Bee. I’m curious to see what becomes of her. I suspect Fitz and Nettle’s relationship might suffer because of the kidnapping (and horrible things always happen to Fitz. Really, the time with Molly at Withywoods was a brief respite in his life).

Cats

I now believe cats are descended from dragons…somehow. The way the cats react to Bee made me think of the dragons in the Rain Wild Chronicles, especially when that one cat marked her.

Shun

I hate her. It’s possible she might become better as Malta did in the Liveship Traders books, but Malta wasn’t this infuriating, and I’m a little annoyed at the repeat of the same story structure. I can’t like Shun. Grr!! She annoys me. And I don’t understand why a grown-ass woman or young woman or whatever age she is (early 20s?) would be jealous of a child. It annoyed me that Fitz never puts her in her place. Like cuss her out at least once, man! Ugh! Hate her!

I think she’s Chade’s kid.

Chade

I was still hoping he’d go darkside, but that doesn’t seem that it’ll happen. In that case, I wish Fitz would stop intentionally preventing himself from seeing how much Chade cares for him. I wish Fitz would acknowledge this. I like their master-apprentice relationship, especially now that Fitz is now master-level assassin but Chade can still get through his traps and such.

Other stuff
  • I like the themes explored in this: fatherhood; reflection & regrets; abandonment; trust; deceit; living double lives; duty; parental influence
  • I have 2 new favorite characters, but I can’t remember their names and I don’t feel like looking them up: the butler dude for Withywoods and Nettle’s boyfriend.
  • I’m not happy with how it ends with everyone at Withywoods basically dead. Why couldn’t they all live?
  • I can’t believe what has happened to the Fool. I wonder if the horrible experiences have made him into a new person drastically unlike the Fool we knew and loved.
  • Patience died! 😥 But I like how she went — seeing Chivalry again.
Overall: ★★★☆☆ ½

It’s an okay start. Some parts were dragged out, there was some repetition, and I noticed an inconsistency (Laurel, the huntswoman, was described as “Witted hunstswoman,” but she’s wasn’t Witted. She was an Unwitted individual from a family of Witted folk.)

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

Because the cover (for my edition) is pretty and if you’ve made it this far, you might as well collect the books.

Quotes from the book:

“Chickens sqwaked, kids bleated and the savoury smell of sizzling meat floated in the summer air.”

“It is the way of the young to accept the debilitations of old age very gracefully on behalf of their elderly parents.”

“I slept mourning and ate sorrow and drank tears.”

“There are moments that change the course of one’s lifetime, and often we don’t realize how significant those initial meetings may be until the years pass.”

15 thoughts on ““Fool’s Assassin” by Robin Hobb

  1. I love your review style! Any review that has “grown-ass woman” and says you don’t feel like looking up certain characters is as honest as it gets! I love the book quotes at the end, too.

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  2. I feel like at this point I’m just gonna do a review of the whole trilogy as opposed to individual books. I’m past the point of no return, ahaha. I also think I liked this first book more than you did – I gave it a 4.5. And honestly I think it might be because I liked Molly already, haha. So going in, I didn’t have to get onboard with their relationship, maybe? Who knows, haha

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    1. Lol that makes sense just to review them all at once. That would be a big, long review 🙂.
      Oh yes, you definitely liked it more than me. Lol, I agree it’s the Molly reason and I was more annoyed by the delays in the plot to allow Fitz to figure stuff out.

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  3. I’ve been hearing a lot of good reviews on this book it’s nice to see another perspective! I wonder how the other Robin Hobbs books going to be like 🤔

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  4. I probably shouldn’t be reading this review as I haven’t got to that series yet, but I squealed as soon as I saw it in the reader part, so I just had to come and read it. You always make me really excited for Hobb’s books, although I’m seriously behind. This is a good reminder that I need to get back to them. Awesome review, as usual.

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  5. Lovely review!! I really must continue with more of Robin Hobb’s books. I read Assassins Apprentice and really enjoyed it. I do think her writing style is a bit “slower” than what I’m used to and what a lot of readers necessarily will be prepared for when they start.

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    1. You’re right. It’s slower and a lot more detailed and sometimes it feels as if she intentionally stretches certain parts to further build the tension, though mostly at those times I just want to speed through the scene. Her books are worth reading for the characters and especially the lore of the world she builds.

      Liked by 1 person

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