My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First things first: if you’re a fan, why haven’t you read this already? If you’re not, sorry but this book is not for you. Fool’s Assassin is firmly and unashamedly a novel for long-time lovers of Fitz. Start instead with Assassin’s Apprentice and we’ll chat when you catch up.
It’s good to see Fitz again. Even if you don’t read this book next to a gently smouldering fire, brandy in hand, it will still feel that way. I don’t understand how something can feel so comforting and so familiar, and yet utterly wreck you emotionally.
From the first few pages, I was already tearing up. (This would become a recurring theme during the whole read.) Not in some sappy melodramatic way, but rather because this book opened the floodgates to my own memories. I felt along with Fitz, sure, but more importantly, it provoked a parallel reaction from my own experiences.
This book is a trip through every emotion, and a shining testament to the long and fruitful career of a wordsmith. Hobb puts in words feelings that many of us haven’t even acknowledged.
Do not read this in public. It tears right through you, opens you up, and makes you feel hopelessly vulnerable.
It starts off by lulling you in its warm embrace, and then slamming home. Fitz is older now. He’s confident and takes charge. A protag who protags. Still a broken man who makes devastating mistakes, but not the uncertain child we first met in Assassin’s Apprentice. Does the have all the answers? Of course not. Does he still make frustrating decisions? Oh, yes. But can we understand why he does why he does? Yes, and that’s the most important part.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been so attached to a character. We have followed Fitz from being a small boy to now well into his later years over the course of six (now seven) books.
We’re going to get a bit personal here…but Hobb’s books always give me hope for growing old. It’s the thing that scares me most. Not dying, but getting to an age where I start losing control of my mind and my body. It’s a small comfort that I can come to these books and learn from those who have come before with how to deal with it.
Don’t expect a plot-heavy story, but rather a look at how a tired and scarred man reacts to things trying to shake up his life, when all he wants to do is settle down with his family.
Now, I’ve seen some complaints that it starts slow and the book only really “begins” in the final chapters. First, welcome to a Robin Hobb book? This is not new. Second, I think the set up is absolutely necessary. We needed this book to settle in, and to care. I know I beat that care drum a lot in my reviews, but I stand by it.
I would have rather had this book with all its meandering than to have jumped right into the plot and action that the sequel will surely bring.
I cannot wait for what comes next, because I am more invested than I have a right to be in a book, and the overall payoff will be greater than anything I could have imagined.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book, because I can’t handle writing this review anymore. Will be in the corner until you need me.
“This is the dream I love the best. I had it once. I’ve tried to make it come back, but it does not.
Two wolves are running.
That is all. They run by moonlight across an open hillside and then into an oak forest. There is little underbrush and they do not slow. They are not even hunting. They are just running, taking joy in the stretch of their muscles and the cool air flowing into their open jaws. They owe nothing to no one. They have no decisions, no duties, and no king. They have the night and the running, and it is enough for them.
I long to be that complete.”