Fool’s Assassin is book 1 in Robin Hobb’s Fitz and Fool trilogy.
Warning: Reading this review will allude to the plot of Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series, so you will be spoiled for her other trilogies (Farseer, Liveship Traders, Tawny Man, Rain Wilds). Read this synopsis and my review at your own risk, it will likely spoil you for prior plots. If you’d like to start a Hobb book, I’d recommend Assassin’s Apprentice! You can find a synopsis for it here!
Otherwise, read on for my spoiler free review of Fool’s Assassin, book 1 in the Fitz and Fool trilogy!
Tom Badgerlock (FitzChivalry) 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.
Title: Fool’s Assassin
Author: Robin Hobb
Genre: fantasy, high fantasy, adult fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Link to buy book here.
Oh my freakin’ god. For the first 200 pages this book had me misty-eyed, both from nostalgia at not reading Hobb’s books for years, and with Fitz’s and Molly’s new life and how Fitz thought about everything. He’s so tender yet blind. Molly is a solid mental force to be reckoned with. I just love them together. Even though Fitz has given up his assassin life, he still keeps in touch with Chade at Buckkeep and he instinctively adopts secretive ways, often keeping his thoughts private even from Molly. (Yes I did want to shake him. Quite a lot.)
This book crept along, building Fitz’s life up from the woodwork, so you find out who all his servants are. How he lives. What the grounds are like. Where the animals are kept. I adored all of it, even if it felt a bit slow in the middle. The old characters we loved flit in and out of the story, particularly Chade and Nettle. They injected Buckkeep back into the book and with that, the magic system of the Skill. Which I adored reading about, it’s so unique and intricate.
I wish the magic came back into play a lot sooner, it wasn’t touched on a lot, except for Fitz’s old notes and random intrusions from Chade into Fitz’s mind. Sleepless old man, ha.
(I mean, it was featured a LOT more prominently near the end, but I can’t really say much about that without spoilers. I just want to scream a lot, I loved this book so much; HOBB, MY HEART.)
Bee is my new favourite character. She is so small, vulnerable, and young. But she’s a cunning thinker and I am SO INTRIGUED by what’s to come in her future. It’s alluded to that she has magic, possibly both the Skill and Wit… I need to know more! I also really liked that while Bee was cunning, she still had the voice of a child, so I could super easily distinguish her from when the plot focussed on Fitz. Really enjoyed the variation!
Let me tell you: I am so glad I have book 2 ready to go after finishing this one. Hobb’s books are often character and plot driven, but you don’t realise the depth until the final drawing back of the curtain when the ending is revealed. You realise how much these characters have grown on you and now I’m not okay. That. Ending. It’s fine, I didn’t need my emotions in one piece.
Overall, Hobb’s writing is dense but her world building is vast and details. Her characters, too, all left impressions on me. They’re not just some random flat stereotype thrown in, they all have backstories of their own. (Which, again, I really want to know more about! Especially Shun, because she’s so ANNOYING.)
If you haven’t read Hobb’s other books, some of the characters from them are mentioned in Fool’s Assassin. Usually there’s a cleverly woven-in description of them, or events, so there’s definitely no knowledge gap. If Fool’s Assassin is the first Robin Hobb book you pick up, you won’t be confused. The missives at the beginnings of each chapter will bridge any possible knowledge gaps, too. (I personally LOVED seeing old names, it brought back so much nostalgia!!)
I loved this book. I loved revisiting Hobb’s world. This new cast of characters brings such potential and I’m SO EXCITED to see where this plot takes me. I just need more. NEEEED. I’m so, SO happy that I have Fool’s Quest ready to go after this book because I have to start it IMMEDIATELY.
I need to know if the characters I love are safe. Or, you know, alive. Please read this book so I have somebody to geek out about it with, it’s so detailed and worth your time. ❤ Perfect for lovers of Hobb AND lovers of fantasy!
4.75 / 5 stars