Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.I hadn't planned on this being my next fantasy reading endeavor. I was SUPPOSED to start The Fellowship of the Ring next...but I saw this sitting at the top of the stack of books beside my bed and I skimmed over the first page...then I went back and actually read it...and the next thing I knew I was forty pages in and reading LOTR was a distant memory.
As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
One of the first things I commented on Goodreads about this book (I think it was literally my first reading update on it) I mentioned how much I enjoyed the style of writing it contained. It's hard to explain, there's just something about it that drew me in and had me hooked. I especially enjoyed the bits of history that were italicized at the beginning of each chapter; I even flagged some of them because I wanted easy access for later! Some of these chapter beginnings you could tell had prominence within their chapter, others were there to make you think for further chapters, and I highly suspect they all were giving clues to the entire trilogy...but I'll have to finish it first to confirm that!
So yes...one of my favorite aspects of the style of the story would be the brief glimpses into the history, as if you're reading from a history textbook, of the world portrayed in the book. I actually wish I could get my hands on that "history textbook" in it's entirety. You're given just enough of the world to understand what is going on (not a lot of information dumping going on in this pretty) but not enough to call yourself a true scholar. [You know you're a geek when you wish you could be a historical scholar of the world within the book you're reading...] I cannot wait to continue with the trilogy because I have high hopes for learning more about the world!
Character-wise, I have a love/wanna-knock-his-head-against-a-wall-sometimes relationship going with our narrator Fitz. Sometimes I absolutely adore his character, other times he makes decisions that just frustrate me to no end...also known as being human. He isn't a perfect character, he's got flaws and downfalls and despite them making me want to bash him against a wall at times I enjoy him for them. Robin Hobb is brilliant with characterization. I think the majority of her characters would fall into that grey area in that great good versus evil battle and I have to admit I have a great love of that. I definitely have a host of favorite "side" characters...most of which I'm afraid to mention because of possible spoilers...but they all come across just as human as Fitz himself. Even the ones we don't see as often or in some cases see at all.
I probably could have read this entire book in a day had there not been interruptions because I was just that lost in the world that Robin Hobb had created...well, if it hadn't been for interruptions and the fact that I didn't want this first book to end...which is made more ridiculous by the fact that I own the entire trilogy so it wasn't as if I wasn't going to be seeing the world and characters again for awhile. But after a few days of lingering over it I finally finished and my opinion never wavered through the reading; I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to any fans of fantasy, and even those who want to try the genre but aren't sure about it.