Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice (Take Two)

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second time I have read Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1), the first being in early 2006. Click here to read my 2006 review. On that occasion I had intended to read the trilogy but something happened in my life which stopped me – the loss of my son. Unable to concentrate for long periods of time and unable to handle complex plots, I turned to stand alone, much thinner books written for young children. The three books which make up The Farseer Trilogy have been sitting on my bookshelf ever since.

Now, three and a half years later, I find myself wanting to complete the trilogy. However, I realised the grief had completely wiped the first book from my memory. Apart from the main character’s name, I could remember next to nothing of the story. I didn’t want to pick up book two and start reading, hoping the first book would come back to me, as that would be distracting, so I read the first book again.

I had expected a flood of memory to occur at some stage during the reading – especially when I approached the climax – but that didn’t happen. I did, however, remember small sections that obviously made an impression on me in 2006, but not enough to spoil any of the surprises. This morning, after finishing Assassin’s Apprentice for the second time, I set about finding the review I wrote back then. It seems I enjoyed it then, with some reservations about the detailed descriptions. Today, I think I have a better appreciation for the book as I had more time in which to sit and become absorbed by it – I even read the “telling” sections at the beginning of each chapter, that I didn’t have much time for previously.

Maybe it’s a case of “older and wiser”, but I think it’s more likely to do with the time restraint issues I had back in 2006, but whatever it was I really enjoyed this second reading. I became totally absorbed and found myself wanting to return to the story, even when it wasn’t possible. Eventually, I left all other distractions at home (for the train trip to and from work) and concentrated solely on the book, which meant I was dedicating four hours a day to reading. I was captivated!

The author shows in this one book how a complex plot can be written in a smooth, believable manner. She also proves that whilst action is important, it doesn’t have to dominate every paragraph of every page. She shows that a character driven book can pull a reader in and hold them through thick and thin, through the laughs and pain, through love and death. This is a brilliant example of a well written story.

This morning I finished Assassin’s Apprentice and in the next minute I was already absorbed by Royal Assassin, book 2 of the trilogy. It’s looking as if this trilogy is going to take a place on my “favourites” list.

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