All Time Favorites #9 – Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

all time favorites

As some of you know, I used to have a blog that I deleted without thinking it through because… Well, because my ADHD brain takes this kind of frustrating decisions sometimes?

Note to self: don’t you ever do that again

As a result, all my absolute favorites don’t appear on this new blog, and that just won’t do. That’s why I’ve decided to create this new feature in which I’ll get to introduce the books that forged me as a reader, one Saturday at a time. Who knows, perhaps you’ll love them too?

For a book to be featured:

  • Its rating must be either a 5 or (more rarely) a 4.5 ;
  • I must have read it at least one year ago ;
  • Its review mustn’t have been posted already on this blog.

This week I’m sharing one of my favorite Fantasy books from June, 2015.

Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb
Fool's Assassin cover

Content warnings for the series – unfortunately I don’t remember specifics enough to be sure of myself when it comes to content warnings but here’s what I remember : death of loved ones, torture, animal abuse, drug addiction, child abuse

Nothing warned me on that bright day that the darkest time of my life had begun.

First of all, don’t be fooled by the #1 here : you CANNOT read this book if you haven’t read the two first trilogies. Trust me, it wouldn’t make sense AT ALL, because it’s Fitz’s journey you’re following here, and it started in Assassin’s Apprentice.

If you’re – even a little – accustomed to this series, you must know that every chapter is introduced by a short excerpt from someone’s memoirs – mostly Fitz’s. That’s why I chose to write this review as an outlet for my memories linked to these amazing books.

Fitz told his story. This is mine. Feel free to stop reading now if you can’t stand personal reviews.

2004 – Farseer Trilogy

When I started college for the first time, I screwed up. The truth is, I thought that I was ready to live in a dorm far from my family but I just… wasn’t. Soon I began to ditch class more often than not, completely locked in my reading bubble (which is so ironic because I was supposed to study literature. I mean, I could slap myself). Of course my parents were worried and angry and you know what? They were right to be, but my 18s self would have never agreed with this, because basically? She was so fucking frustrating. But moving on. Anyway, I managed to convince them that I needed to live out campus because… well… less distractions let’s say, and moved in a tiny apartment some months later. I still remember the loneliness I felt that first night, on my couch surrounded by blank walls.

I still remember telling myself that I was wrong and hadn’t made the right choice. I still remember feeling scared, so scared (don’t judge – I come from a 4 children family and never ever knew how to deal with silence – I didn’t know then, anyway)

That first night I grabbed Assassin’s Apprentice and never stopped reading. That first night I was hooked by Robin Hobb‘s astounding writing which flows so easily that you don’t even realize that you just read 600 pages in one sitting. This first night was filled with Fitz’s despair, The Fool’s wit, Chade’s strange schemes and Regal’s cruelty.

I won’t deny it, I ate these books up in a week, stopping only to eat and (sometimes) sleep. What can I say? Fitz always had the power to draw me in, to make me feel his struggles, his doubts, his hopes. Don’t expect a perfect main lead : It’s Fitz – I mean, I’ve never hidden that he is one of my all-time favorite character but if you’ve never meet him, you need to know that Fitz is a whiny, heart-wrenching, lonely, “I do mistakes for a living” kind of character. But oh, boyHow real he is. How incredible and complex the relationships are in these books.

2010 – Tawny Man

Jump a few years. Picture a teaching student, who barely has enough time to breathe, let alone read. Yes, it was a multiple year book slump. Yes, it was as horrible as it sounds. Now, imagine how I felt when I discovered that Robin Hobb had, in fact, written a new trilogy about my beloved Fitz I felt dumb to not have learnt it earlier. Of course I was ecstatic. Of course I was full of hope, love, but damn, how worried I was! And the truth is, I was right to be, in my opinion anyway. Because this ending? I cried for hours after this – don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t angry at Robin Hobb for the path she chose for Fitz, because this bittersweet ending? It was so him, he who manages to screw up relationships faster than I say Wit. But I digress. I remember the day I finished it, in the middle of nowhere, fishing on a lake with my boyfriend (who was fishing. Mostly, I read and make coffee. I’m useful like that). I remember saying that it couldn’t be the end. IT COULDN’T BE.

I’m so glad I was right.

Well, really, I’m always glad when I’m right, I mean, who isn’t? Huh?

2015 – Fool’s Assassin

Do not agonize about yesterday. Do not borrow tomorrow’s trouble. Let my heart hunt. Rest in the now.

If you’re still with me, first of all : congrats. I’m not gonna lie, before starting this book I was scared shitless : will this book be the one that would spoil the series for me? Will I love it as much as the others? Will I, will I…

So, did this book so awaited disappointed me? Not by a long shot. From page one I was tearing up, smiling, from page one I felt like coming back home. Do you expect some full action-packed book? Oh, no, no, please don’t. If you know Robin Hobb, then you are aware that as a first book in one of her trilogies, you have to wait for things to settle down before expecting real action. Of course I was never bored because COME ON, IT’S FITZ, and as always, his insightful but way too late interpretations of the events of his life enthralled me. Anyway, I thought I should warn you : Robin Hobb‘s books must be savored. In any case the pace definitely quickens in the second half and kept me captivated and yes, in awe.

However, what you do find are multi-layered characters (Can I say that I adored Bee and the changes she brings in Fitz? Yes? Also, this character evolution? Fucking perfect), an intricate web of complex relationships, a beautiful and stunning writing, and as always with this series, the need to be accepted for who you are despite your differences – the excruciating journey that can be life. Because what’s Fitz story but the expression of perseverance despite all the darkness lurking, all the rejections he faced?

I don’t care if the story can be seen as non eventful and boring – watch out, because loss, fear, sadness or joy can overtake you at any instant, suddenly and harshly as Robin Hobb masters it.

I don’t care because I’m home, and I’m overjoyed to be. This story is about family, the one we have and the one we create. And we readers are part of it, in a way.

Guys. GUYS! I feel like crying.

Because these books? I never want to finish them – I dread their end, and again, Robin Hobb proved me that I was right to do.

READING GUIDE or how the fuck am I supposed to read those books

Because you KNOW you want to read these books (please do), here’s the order to respect : (I know, this is SUCH a commitment!) in pink, the books that aren’t mandatory to read, but it’s in the same world, and we understand things better^^

– Assassin’s Apprentice ★★★★★
– Royal Assassin ★★★★★
– Assassin’s Quest ★★★★

– Ship of Magic ★★★
– The Mad Ship ★★★★★
– Ship of Destiny ★★★★★

– Fool’s Errand ★★★
– Golden Fool ★★★★
– Fool’s Fate ★★★★★

– The Dragon Keeper ★★★
– Dragon Haven
– City of Dragons
Blood of Dragons ★★★★

– Fool’s Assassin ★★★★★
– Fool’s Quest ★★★★★
Assassin’s Fate [unrated]

This review has been written on June 8, 2015.

Tom Badgerlock 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?

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