Friday, January 29, 2010 | Posted by Bryce at 4:21 AM |
I know, I know, it's been a long time since I've posted. What can I say. I'm busy with my own novel, and I've also become mildly addicted to Diablo II and Torchlight. Such is life. Anyhoo, onto the review.
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb was a surprise for me. It gives, in first person, the early childhood and teenage years of a bastard child fathered by the King in Waiting, Prince Chivalry. When Chivalry learns of his son, he abdicates the throne and leaves the Castle forever. The boy grows up under the watch of Chivalry's right hand man, the stablemaster Burrich. Part way through the book, as is fairly obvious by the title, he begins training to be an assassin.
I had assumed that this book was just another of the smear of books that came out in the 80s with an almost AC/DC level of sameness (if you missed that joke, just listen to their songs. I dare you to tell them apart). Turns out this book was published in the early 90s, which surprised me. Hobb doesn't exactly fall far from the tree when it comes to the basics of her story. Young boy, no parents, raised up for a great destiny, a kingdom at war, nasty royalty, classic love story. It's all there. But I found myself turning page after page, because it was just different enough that it came out quite nicely. In that regard it reminded me of other authors that have flirted with the classic 80s epic fantasy while still giving it a jolt in one area or another. Authors like Rothfuss, John Brown, and others come to mind.
One thing that bothered me a little bit about Assassin's Apprentice were the historical texts at the beginning of each chapter. I understood that they were there to flesh the story out, but I know for a fact that they could scare some readers off. When the first sentence of your book is, "A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history is of its ruling family, the Farseers," you're not exactly grabbing my interest, now are you. I tried to get my brother to read this, before I had even started it, and he put it down, saying it started out "way too boring" to hold his attention. That doesn't say good things, since he's a fan of the genre.
Still, Hobb did many things right with Assassin's Apprentice, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a well worn copy of Royal Assassin from the library and digging right in.
Overall Score: 8/10. The book suffers a little in the pacing department, but the story was top notch, and the characters, while somewhat static, were easily recognizable and easy to relate to. It kept me turning pages.