In the mood to read a good, solid fantasy trilogy, I picked up the Farseer series by Robin Hobb. It was highly recommended on every “Top Fantasy Reads” list I looked at. That’s really saying something, eh? “Assassin’s Apprentice” (Book 1) begins with the main character as an old man recalling his life story, starting at the tender age of six. Right away, the reader knows she’s in for an ambitious story. Being a writer myself, I appreciate the foreshadowing that Hobbs deftly employed here as well as the organization that goes behind it. The author has a straightforward style that is easy to read. Her character development is amazing, and she takes the time to “grow” the individuals, and they are wonderfully depicted as believable people with natural flaws and foibles. There are no instant advancements or ready-made solutions to either their development or the story’s. Hobbs also does a fine job with setting development, and her plot is just convoluted enough to make things interesting without being confusing.
That being said, and I am looking at the series as a whole, there are some places where the story dragged enough to make me want to skip ahead. I understand that she tried to make each of the three novels work more or less as a standalone. However, this involved boring and copious amounts of repetition made worse by editorial gaffs in which words and/or phrases were often duplicated—in the same paragraph, no less.
I found the first book the least engaging, and if I had not set out to read the trilogy, I would have quit there. The ending did nothing to encourage me to pick up the next book. In spite of that, I’m glad I did. I cried my way through the last couple of chapters. In the end, I felt sympathy and a real fondness for not just the main character, Fitz, but for most of the supporting cast. As another reviewer said, “If you want a story that can pull you in, wring you out, and leave you feeling like you have really been through something, then read this.”