Royal Assassin – Continuing my read through of the Farseer Trilogy

Second books in trilogies sometimes struggle to find their own rhythm. They tend to be a bridging story – taking the characters from the start of their story towards were the dramatic conclusion is.

The second book of Robin Hobb’s trilogy Royal Assassin is anything but that. It’s one of the few times that I’ve read a “second book” and found it stand on it’s own two feet. In fact, the book has the same level of interest and intrigue as a typical “third book”.

Robin Hobb is well known for how well she writes characters, and this book is an absolute masterclass in characterisation. In particular, she has a way of entering a character who isn’t human (Nighteyes, Fitz’ wolf companion) in a way that accommodates the fact that this character is completely not human. The way they “speak”, the turns of phrase they use, even the confusion that they show to Fitz in conversation.

This book is very character heavy, and it is full of political manoeuvrings rather than sweeping battlescapes. As someone who doesn’t normally like heavy political plotlines, I actually found these really engaging and deserving of screentime. It helps develop Fitz’s relationships with the other characters in the series (as well as fleshing out a few characters who had previously been sidelined in the last story).  In some ways, because the book is heavily focussed on characters, I never felt the need to skim over the “boring” scenes to try and get to the interesting ones. Instead, I found myself turning page after page trying to devour the words as fast as I could.

Overall, a wonderful lesson in how to write engaging, detailed and flawed characters. I’ve found the series so far delightfully engaging and a wonderful change of pace to my normal reads. Onto the last in the series!



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