“Assassin’s Fate” by Robin Hobb

Here I am at the end of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, the end of the Realm of the Elderlings series, a 16-book epic fantasy series that took me and Emily at Embuhleeliest about four years to read. We made it to the end and had our hearts and emotions ripped apart along the way. The story kept us at the edge of our seats as we wondered what will be become of favorite characters and how the story would end. And when it did… I couldn’t… I…

So much happens that I’ve procrastinated on writing this reflection for the past two months. But no more! I need to get this out (so I can review other books) and move on.

Genre:

Fantasy

Series:

Fitz and the Fool, book 3
Realm of the Elderlings, book 16

Pubbed:

2017

Goodreads summary:

The final book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy.

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer’s daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield great power. With Fitz in pursuit, the Servants fled through a Skill-pillar, leaving no trace. It seems certain that they and their young hostage have perished in the Skill-river.

Clerres, where White Prophets were trained by the Servants to set the world on a better path, has been corrupted by greed. Fitz is determined to reach the city and take vengeance on the Four, not only for the loss of Bee but also for their torture of the Fool. Accompanied by FitzVigilant, son of the assassin Chade, Chade’s protégé Spark and the stableboy Perseverance, Bee’s only friend, their journey will take them from the Elderling city of Kelsingra, down the perilous Rain Wild River, and on to the Pirate Isles.

Their mission for revenge will become a voyage of discovery, as well as of reunions, transformations and heartrending shocks. Startling answers to old mysteries are revealed. What became of the liveships Paragon and Vivacia and their crews? What is the origin of the Others and their eerie beach? How are liveships and dragons connected?

But Fitz and his followers are not the only ones with a deadly grudge against the Four. An ancient wrong will bring them unlikely and dangerous allies in their quest. And if the corrupt society of Clerres is to be brought down, Fitz and the Fool will have to make a series of profound and fateful sacrifices. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

“This is our last hunt, old wolf. And as we have always done, we go to it together.”

I don’t know how to begin. Maybe I should first confess that this is my third time completing an epic fantasy series, but my first time completing one of this scope: 16 books and an expansive, detailed world filled with many memorable characters. Meeting these characters and seeing them develop was part of the appeal of reading these books, but it’s the thrilling adventures that kept me enthralled and wondering what will come next.

There were times when I nearly gave up on Hobb and her series. The Liveship Traders books were especially difficult to get into. If I had read the books by myself, I know that I would have given up on the series then. But my buddy-read with Emily at Embuhleeliest kept me going. We’ve buddy-read the series since either the first or second book of the Farseer trilogy. The buddy-read kept me pumped for the story, helped maintain my interest and especially my excitement. I was glad to have someone I could rave to about scenes and events that filled me with great emotion and rant to about characters who pissed me off. Buddy-reading the Realm of Elderlings series was certainly a great reading experience.

Despite the difficulty I had getting into the Liveship Traders books, I’ve enjoyed each subseries of the Realm of the Elderlings. I love the world, the characters I was introduced to, and seeing how the characters navigate their various relationships and other challenges. The animals and other creatures are just as amazing as the humans, and the world is filled with such wonder that there are still a few things I’m curious about and wonder if Hobb explores them in other books as short stories. (I, of course, plan to read everything she has published.)

Although the books set in Buckkeep are about a man, FitzChivalry, I appreciate Hobb’s books because she expands her tale to be about more than just one person. The Farseer books introduces us to Fitz, the bastard son of a prince. The story we read in these books is Fitz’s reflection on his years spent growing up at Buckkeep castle, where he was trained to become an assassin. But although Fitz is telling us his story, he doesn’t fully realize that in doing so he tells us Buckkeep’s, the country’s, story.

Reading the Liveship Traders books, I realized that the larger series will not be about just one man. Both men and women are important to the tale. Women take as much chances as men and face dangerous situations. They are heroes and villains and complex characters I loved, disliked, and loved again. Once I got past the first Liveship Traders book, I began appreciating the trilogy because it gives us a story about women who sacrificed for their family’s wellbeing and also expands the world of the larger series to include such wondrous places such as a city in the trees.

My favorite of the subseries, the Tawney Man books, came next. Fitz is in his middle years. The story has caught up to him; he’s no longer reflecting. Again, the story reverts to being about a man making changes in the world, helped along by his Prophet. And again, the world expands, strengthening the link to dragons (which I was beyond excited for) while hinting at mysterious figures called Elderlings. I didn’t realize the significance of some of the events that occurred in this book until the very end of the Realm of the Elderlings series.

The story switches back to the Rain Wilds (Bingtown, Trehaug, the Liveships, etc.) with the Rain Wild Chronicles. While reading the Tawney Man books, I kept wondering if the Buckkeep stories and the Rain Wild ones would meld into one tale. I kept wondering in what ways they relate and looking for clues. Hobb sneakily dropped hints in each book but still kept me guessing. The Rain Wild Chronicles introduced me to new characters and DRAGONS!! Which I was excited for. The mystery surrounding the Elderlings slowly dissipated and left me wondering why they were such an enigma in the first place. Again, we are introduced to new places, but this time, it was as if I was reading a road novel because the Rain Wild Chronicles is basically one long road trip.

The Rain Wild Chronicles brings us to the edge of the Mountain Kingdom, on the outskirts of Buckkeep, thus melding the two narratives. From there, the Fitz & the Fool trilogy picks up with Fitz as an old man while introducing us to a new voice — Bee. These books explore parts of the world we’d heard of and further uncovered the mystery of the Elderlings’ disappearance. They state what Fitz and the Fool’s purpose is and explain much of what I was curious about, but not everything, which was probably intentional. The last book, Assassin’s Fate, wraps up the series well, but, oh, how it ripped me apart to get there and led me to write this long intro to review.

My ACTUAL review of Assassin’s Fate. SPOILERS for EVERYTHING below.

So much happens in this book that my mind was all blather by its end. I didn’t even attempt to write a review then because I knew I wouldn’t make much sense. I still don’t think I will make much sense. But I’ll make this easy on myself and just bullet point everything.

Things I loved:

  • Fitz travelling on liveships.
    • I knew he would react strongly to them because of his Wit and Skill. I just knew it!
    • Loved when the Tarman requested to speak to him and how Leftrin reacted that the ship wanted to speak to a stranger.
    • Loved that Verity-as-dragon claimed Fitz (Tarman recognized this because he smelled Verity’s dragon on Fitz). It made me think Fitz got what he deep-down wanted: his father to claim him. I see Verity as Fitz’s surrogate father.
    • Loved how Fitz reacted to seeing Paragon with his face and how jealous Paragon was of Fitz and Amber’s relationship. This was so hilarious! It’s one of my favorite moments in the novel.

“Understand this. We share a face, though mine is more youthful and handsomer…She loves me far more than you. She always will.”

    • Fitz Skilling to Bee: That part made me nearly cry because Bee thought her father pushed her away out of negativity when he did it to protect her.
    • Fitz’s reaction to Per and Lant and Spark and the Fool/Amber whenever he tried to be stubborn and go off plan.
    • Fitz facing down the dragons when they got pissed that he intervened in the Elderlings changes.
    • Fitz finding Bee; or rather, Per stumbling onto Bee. The moment almost made me cry because Fitz didn’t realize it was Bee at first because of how scarred she is. He thought she was a boy (which touches on the fact that she is, probably, the Unexpected Son). This is another of my favorite moments. Oh man, it ripped me to shreds. Okay, maybe I shed a tear here.
    • Nighteyes (his consciousness??) jumping from Bee to Fitz and Bee seeing both in Fitz’s eyes.
    • Fitz being a badass and killing bad people.
    • Fitz staying behind to die (because he’s so intent on creating moments that will make me cry) and telling the Fool to raise and protect his cub.
    • Anytime Fitz or Nighteyes called Bee “cub.”
    • Fitz and Nighteyes not dying, which is another of my favorite moments and a really mean trick Robin Hobb played on me although I saw it coming (hoped for it).

“Dying is boring, Nighteyes observed.”

    • Fitz and Nighteyes doing the ultimate assassination.
    • Fitz becoming a more convincing assassin with each book.
    • Fitz’s funeral — because EVERYONE turned out for it, as they should.
  • The Fool was not my favorite character in this one because he spends most of the story being Amber (and a minute being Lord Chance) and Amber is not one of my favorite characters. However, I do love Fitz and the Fool’s friendship. The strength of it is one of the best things about the story, and I like what Hobb does with their strong bond throughout the series, making it an essential element in this book. The Uneexpected Son, the Destroyer, I got so confused by these titles, but what I do understand is that they wouldn’t have been possible if not for the strong bond between Fitz and the Fool, who have become parts of a whole. I debate about this with myself because I don’t think Fitz, the Fool, and Nighteyes were always parts of a whole. I think this parts of a whole thing became more possible as they grew closer.
    • Fitz, Nighteyes, and the Fool going into the wolf Fitz carved: That was a fitting end for them, and I’m glad Bee took back the words she said to the Fool. Aww, poor Fool.
  • Nighteyes
    • Nighteyes is one of the best characters in the entire series. Any scenes with him or his conscience are great. I love that he tried to protect Bee. How is this bodyless Nighteyes even possible? Has Fitz been talking to him in his head this whole time and didn’t tell us??
  • Bee
    • Confession: I really like Bee, but she’s not one of my favorite characters in the series. She’s a great character, though, and I love how disruptive she is merely by existing in this world and how much she confuses people. She doesn’t look her age and doesn’t look her gender. She became possible, I believe, when Fitz and the Fool switched bodies so that Fitz could save the Fool. She became the Destroyer, I think, when Dwalia abducted her and physically abused her on the way to Clerres.

“I wept for fear of what I had become.”

    • I admire Bee’s strength: She’s been through so much abuse and mind torture. Another of my favorite moments is when one of the Four, Symphe, tried to kill Bee and free Dwalia and Vindeliar but Bee got the upper hand in that situation instead.
    • I kept hoping the Chalcedean dude (Kerf?) would help her in a more substantial way and maybe free her and help her get back to Fitz. It was painful reading about Bee’s journey: the many beatings; preventing Vindeliar from breaking into her mind (loved it when she mind-attacked him); what happened to Trader Akriel.
    • LOVED that Per killed Vindeliar. That’s another of my favorite moments. Per is the ultimate protector, quite like Fitz.

“No one will kill Bee while I live!”

  • Kettricken
    • I agree with Nighteyes. I totally ship her and Fitz. I think she may have had a crush on Fitz because toward the end of the book, Fitz was like “oh, I didn’t see you there Kettricken” and Ket was like “you never do” and I was like “oh shit, Ket has been crushing on Fitz this whole time!!” Yep! Totally ship them.
  • Paragon became dragons!!
    • That was great and also when the dragons destroyed Clerres.
    • We get some more Kennit’s backstory, which is good, I suppose. I didn’t care much for his son. I thought we would get more than what we got from him.
  • Random facts
    • Like the Golden Dawn was the first liveship. I don’t know (or remember) who that is, but I’m glad to know it! 🙂

Things I didn’t like:

This book wraps up the story well, but, man, I didn’t like how some stuff went down.

  • How my favorite character died
    • That was horrible way for Fitz to die. HORRIBLE! I love that he went into the wolf-dragon-stone thing, but WHY did he have to be riddled with such horrible parasitic worms that ate him from the inside out?? That’s torture! He was bleeding from everywhere toward the end; it was so painful to read about. WHY did he have to die like that?? I didn’t like it. I loved that everyone showed up to ease his departure but I did not like it.
  • How my other favorite character died
    • Apparently Chade is dead. I have a hard time accepting this. I don’t believe he’s dead. I think he has instead transcended the physical world and is in the spirit/Skill river realm, where the bodiless entities that help Fitz when he Skill too much live.
    • I expected to feel sad and torn that Chade passed and expected something more dramatic, like what happened with Burrich. THAT did not happen, so I REFUSE to believe Chade is dead… unless Hobb comes and tells me “Yep, he’s dead.”
  • The terms, Destroyer and Unexpected Son and I think there was another one too, became confusing about who they referred to (Bee or Fitz) after a while. I wasn’t sure if that was intentional or not.
  • Motley
    • Only because I thought there was more to her, like a human transferred her consciousness to the crow or the crow is actually some other mythical being or something. Otherwise, I like Motley.
  • Small details like the people of Clerres speaking a different language (Mersen), which was mentioned by the Fool once and didn’t come up again, even when they got to Clerres.

Things I still have questions about/would like more story on:

  • What did the dragons do on Others island after learning how they were betrayed?
    • This book touches on what happens, but I want the full story with all the juicy bits.
  • Who are the bodiless entities in the Skill current that often help Fitz?
    • It’s not explicitly stated that they are dragons, and I don’t fully believe they are actually dragons. I think it’s Eda and El.
  • What happened to Chade?
    • Because I REFUSE to believe he died just like that.
  • What happened to Kerf?
    • I was hoping he would pop up and kill Dwalia or something.
  • How did the Four become the Four?
    • That story could fill a book or several books. I’m willing to read them!
    • This book mentions how the dragons were betrayed, but I want the full story with all the juicy bits.
  • What’s up with Rosemary?
    • I don’t trust that girl. There’s something fishy about her… I think the series needs another book. I think Rosemary killed Chade. I don’t trust her at all.
Overall: ★★★★☆ ½

A great ending to a great series. I didn’t like everything about the ending, but I sure enjoyed reading every moment of it.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

Because if you’ve made it this far, it must be because you like the books too. So do yourself a favorite and Buy a copy.

Quotes/passages from the book:

“Strange waters to you will be home ports to others.”

“Never do a thing until you’ve considered what you can’t do once you’ve done it.”

“If adults didn’t tell children of their hereditary hates, perhaps we would do better.”

“…until I cleared a path of fallen dreams through the maze of racks and shelves.”

“Above us was the roaring laughter of the fire on the upper storeys.”

“Vengeance took no account of innocence or right. It was the chain that bound horrific events together, that decreed that one awful act must beget another worse one that would lead to yet a third.”

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

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  4. Wow. You sure had a lot of to share about this grand finale and I can totally see why it felt like an obstacle in your reviewing schedule hahah I really look forward to dipping my toe into this universe this year. I know it’s going to be epic at some point if not always! Fantastic breakdown; thanks for sharing, Z! 😀

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  5. I always have Robin Hobb in the back of my mind to read but I think I definitely need to make it a priority this year. I know one of my local used bookstores always has her books in stock so I don’t have much of an excuse to not read them. Plus they sound amazing and I love a good fantasy!

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