Starting the Realm of the Elderlings – Assassin’s Apprentice review

My introduction to the Realm of the Elderlings got off to a rocky start when I realised I started with the wrong book. Namely, the book that was the trilogy at the very end. I only realised this until I was almost a good 25% through (according to my kindle), which also meant I got hugely spoilered for events that hadn’t happened yet.

Reminder: when starting a new book series, double check to make sure you’re reading the right book.

Now I’ve powered my way through the entirety of The Farseer Trilogy, I’ve actually come to appreciate my unintentional spoilery error. As someone whose normally comfortable and enjoys very plot driven books, a character driven book that takes its time layering up the world would be a struggle. In fact, this was my second attempt reading this book, the first time I didn’t manage a few more pages. However, recognising some of the characters who I knew would appear in a much later trilogy kept me engaged when I might have otherwise been put off. It was quite fun learning who Molly, Kettericken and Chade actually were. It was also interesting meeting Fitz as a boy and the introduction to the various places in the world.

The first book in The Farseer Trilogy is Assassins Apprentice, where we meet Fitz as a six year old child, introduced into the world of Buckkeep castle. The book is written in first person POV, so you learn the world as Fitz does, including the politics of his heritage as the bastard child of a dead prince. He is soon apprenticed to become an assassin, and we join him on his journey to realising his magical and assassin abilities.

For me, one of my favourite parts of Hobbs’ writing is the way she weaves in worldbuilding, especially in the first book. There are small details that indicate deep understanding of her world, which I really enjoyed. In particular, it’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy novel with a soft magic system, and the idea of the Skill and the Wit reminded me a lot of the types of magic systems in Shannara (which was the first series that got me into reading fantasy).

Overall, this book is a setup to the much larger arc – rather than treating it as a standalone book I much preferred treating it as the first 1/3 of a much larger story. The conclusion wrapped up with a number of cliffhanger points even if the main plotline did conclude nicely. It was a great read to have following finishing the very fast paced The Licanius Trilogy, and a definite recommendation if you’ve never read any of Robin Hobb’s works before. I look forward to continuing the Realm of the Elderlings world in future reads!



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