Fool’s Assassin: Book One of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy
"I am content."
Those were the last words that FitzChivalry Farseer uttered in the 2004 release, FOOL'S FATE. Given that Robin Hobb moved on from Fitz and Fool to give readers other stories to explore, it seemed that Fitz had come to the end of his line. After all, he was content. Ten years later, though, Hobb has returned to FitzChivalry and his cohort Fool, gifting fans with FOOL'S ASSASSIN, the first volume in a brand-new trilogy that strikes a perfect note with every beat.
Forty-seven-year-old FitzChivalry Farseer, now married to Molly and preparing to celebrate Winterfest, still seems quite content. No longer looking for grand adventure as an assassin for hire, there is the arrival of a curious messenger to contend with...or not. Fitz ignores this standard bringer of adventure, and eventually the messenger vanishes, leaving nothing but a stain of blood in his wake.
"With her masterful skill as a storyteller and her lyrical prose, [Hobb] will lure you in once more, and you will revel in a return to a world most beloved. It is good to be back amongst such wondrous friends."
The dormant flame in Fitz's heart is rekindled, and his love for adventure and intrigue overcomes him with more than a little surprise. But wait. Hobb does not then plunge us headlong into excitement. Instead, FOOL'S FATE is put on simmer, and time begins to pass while Fitz regards his past, for the past always finds a way to mesh with the present.
Slowly the seeds planted by the messenger begin to grow, and the idyllic life of contentment that Fitz has clung to begins to crack. The final chapters turn into a flurry of page turns as Fitz becomes aware of just what the purpose of the messenger's visit was and how destructive the path ahead will be.
Robin Hobb has always been one of the great voices of fantasy, and while her fans are devoted, it is a shame that she does not have a greater following. Her characters are always beautifully crafted and, in many ways, work as mirrors that reflect elements of the reader on the page. And her storyline here, while not always at a breakneck pace or as action-packed as the previous Farseer books, is beautiful. Until the final chapters, when the buildup to the task at hand is revealed, FOOL'S ASSASSIN is a character study, taking in the life of a man hidden, who no longer seeks the old life, whose children have grown and gone, and who seeks solace only in the arms of his wife.
For Fitz, however --- poor, dark, brooding Fitz --- would anyone expect him to lead a quiet, normal life?
Hobb's return to FitzChivalry Farseer's story is more than welcome. It is applauded. With her masterful skill as a storyteller and her lyrical prose, she will lure you in once more, and you will revel in a return to a world most beloved. It is good to be back amongst such wondrous friends.
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on September 19, 2014