Book one of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy
By Robin Hobb
Available now from Del Rey (Penguin Random House)
I love the way Robin Hobb writes. I dived right into FOOL'S ASSASSIN, devouring it in a single Saturday. I was so happy to spend more time with Fitz, to see his continued happiness with Molly and contentment with life. Returning to this character and setting was like a reunion with old friends, even though I knew bad things would have to happen in order to set a new trilogy in motion. But once I finished FOOL'S ASSASSIN, I had to face the facts. I might've enjoyed it, but it was a terrible book.
The pacing is super slow. The opening tells of a messenger who is murdered before she can deliver her message, with Fitz ominously intoning that it would be years before he understood that it was the Fool trying to reach him. The book then proceeds to detail the decade plus before Fitz gets the message, and then spend some more time detailing quotidian stuff while Fitz dithers. I'm used to Hobb's books being filled with action and adventure followed by a long denouement, not this long build up. Nothing really happens. Even worse, nothing unpredictable happens. I put together every twists approximately 500 pages before Fitz did. Not good when Fitz is supposed to be clever.
FOOL'S ASSASSIN introduces several new characters, including a new narrator, Bee. Her voice was distinct from Fitz's, and it was easy to tell their chapters apart even though they weren't labeled. I liked several of the other new characters too, more fool me since something like 90% of them were dead by the end of the novel. Before the ending, I at least hoped all of the elements being built up (including the new characters) were going somewhere.
If you are a fan of the Farseer and the Tawny Man trilogies, I do recommend FOOL'S ASSASSIN. The Six Duchies world is as immersive as ever, and there is the promise of trouble on the horizon. It seems that peacetime will end soon for Fitz and his country. If you aren't familiar with the previous novels featuring Fitz and the Fool, then I don't recommend starting here. FOOL'S ASSASSIN is too meandering to appeal to anyone but fans.
(And despite the title, you should be prepared for the Fool to take a very long time to show up.)