Amazon has Fool's Assassin: Book I of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy (Kindle eBook) on sale for $1.99.

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  • Nearly twenty years ago, Robin Hobb burst upon the fantasy scene with the first of her acclaimed Farseer novels, Assassin’s Apprentice, which introduced the characters of FitzChivalry Farseer and his uncanny friend the Fool. A watershed moment in modern fantasy, this novel—and those that followed


Received 4.5/5 stars based on 1,105 customer reviews on product page.

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I just finished it, as the wiki is very sparse, it's a good book and stars the people I have wanted to see in a while (Fool, Fitz, Molly, Ketricken, etc)
But unlike the first Farseer, this is obviously (to me) one long book split up into three, the ending of the first book seems jarring.

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Loved all the books in this series until the very last. All the characters' personalities changed. Just a warning to ya.

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While the price is good, for those who haven't actually read any of Robin Hobb's books, let me give you a more objective, detailed, and useful preview than you will be able to obtain from Hobb's fans (really fanbois and fangurrls), who tend to do little more than gush vaguely about her "wonderful characterization!" and her "wonderful world-building!"  Please forgive the length of this comment, but there is an awful lot to criticize about Hobb's writing and I'm doing something that Hobb's fanbois and fangurrls won't, namely justify my opinions with examples and sensible explanations.

These novels are set in the world Hobb created in the Farseer Trilogy.  The first of those books, Assassin's Apprentice, was a very good novel about a kid name Fitz who was the illegitimate son of the kingdom's crown prince whose existence causes so much shame that his dad must abdicate and Fitz isn't accepted as part of the royal family but must train to become the kingdom's official unofficial assassin.  One could identify with the protagonist in that book, there was enough of a plot and enough suspense to keep turning the pages and it was an enjoyable read.  

Unfortunately, the second and third books in the Farseer Trilogy were not very good, decent, or even cruddy.  They were abysmally badly written.  Let's discuss the characterization:  The protagonist sits around and literally dozens of times throws pity parties about how he's not good enough or powerful enough!  Boo Hoo!  The secondary protagonist, Fitz's uncle who is the de facto ruler of the kingdom while Fitz's grandfather is slowly dying (i.e the uncle is the most powerful man in the kingdom), constantly whines about how he's powerfulness to do anything to stop his evil younger half-brother from killing everyone and ruining the kingdom, and despite the villain's express confession to murder and attempted murder, we keep hearing the heir to the throne snivel "We've go no proof!" (since when is a confession not proof and why do you need proof when you've got royal assassins who solve the kingdom's problems through extrajudicial means, anyway?).  So what does the acting king do?  He runs away for months to pursue a remedy out of a fairy tale, leaving the antagonist in charge.  And speaking of the evil prince, how exactly is an individual with about a 75 IQ who is perpetually drunk and usually stoned on drugs, too, able to be more brilliant than Machiavelli?

Let's talk about Hobb's so-called extraordinary "world-building."  No one in the story has any sense of self-preservation - she created a world in which people stand around waiting to be killed, all the while knowing who the perpetrator is since there's only one possible antagonist.  We have a world in which the shame of having an illegitimate child is enough to cause the heir to the kingdom to abdicate - at what point in human existence has any totalitarian regime given a rat's derriere about royalty getting a little action on the side?  Ironically, Hobb got the name "Fitz" from real history from medieval England - the Plantagenets weren't the slightest bit humiliated by royal bastards, but made their illegitimate sons earls and married off their illegitimate daughters to ranking nobility and other royal families.  And where, dear Ms. Hobb, is there any evidence anywhere else in your entire series of people with such snooty and lofty senses of morality, other than the fact you keep telling us no one accepts Fitz - certainly a kingdom that employs an official government assassin and tolerates a drunkard prince throwing bacchanalian orgies isn't so moralistic as to justify the shame Hobb created for Fitz's existence.

 The third book stagnates for a very long time with a lengthy trip on an uninteresting road, then features dozens of pages of dream-like time travel sequences; dream sequences, in which the author can slop anything on the page without worrying if he or she makes sense, are a sign of lazy and poor writing - I can't recall ever reading a dream sequence in any outstanding novel.  Then when the road ends, the story stagnates still further while the characters stand around for at least 100 pages waiting for the uncle to finish carving a statue (literally, no exaggeration).  The ending is contrived and unsatisfactory - it's not a happy ending for anyone, but rather than have some degree of realism to it, the conclusion just seems slopped together.  That seems to be Hobb's main literary technique, just make things happen, not because action B logically follows action A, but because she arbitrarily decided to fill some pages that way or else just needed something to happen and wasn't industrious enough to set it up properly in the plot development.  And finally, she left two significant plot threads unresolved, namely, how the antagonist was working with the enemy, and who exactly was Fitz's mom and why, since he lived with her for the first half-dozen years of his life, does he retain absolutely no memory of her from the moment he was dumped at the royal court at age six?  This wasn't a case of leaving some plotlines open for subsequent books to resolve - Hobb intended The Farseer Trilogy to be a complete stand-alone series with no further books and it wasn't until later that she decided to write other books involving those characters - she simply got lazy and forgot to provide any explanations for those unexplained plot threads.

  I stopped reading Hobb after the Farseer Trilogy, but if you look at the reviews on Amazon for her subsequent series set in that world involving many of the same characters, you will see that her fanbois and fangurrls wrote a whole bunch of extremely enthusiastic, highly biased reviews in which they pretend the books are perfect and do not bother to give any of their cons, but merely gush vaguely about the pros.  You will also see a minority of 1/5 and 2/5-star reviews, often written by people who enjoyed Assassin's Apprentice or maybe the entire Farseer Trilogy, who go into much greater detail to explain how Hobb's writing has deteriorated.  Generally these detailed and fair reviews describe chapter after chapter of nothing happening but characters contemplating whether or not they should take action (i.e. navel-gazing) or how the characters are acting inconsistently with their past characteristics (and not in an evolved or matured sort of way, either).  Before buying this book, go read some of those lengthier 1/5-star reviews for this book on Amazon and I think you'll get a better idea of what to expect than from the 5/5-star reviews that mostly just gush without saying anything specific or meaningful.

Why has Robin Hobb become as popular as she has?  I wish I knew.  I think that part of it is that her first Farseer book, Assassin's Apprentice, was really quite good, and when many people become fanbois or fangurrls of an author or other celebrity, they put the blinders on and automatically declare that all of the books, albums, movies, etc... their hero churns out are brilliant! without any degree of objectivity at all.  The second and only other reason I can think of is that in our modern world of 140-character communications and sound-bite journalism, people are intellectually lazy and the short, simple, and sweet pseudonym "Robin Hobb" just appeals to them and they like the sounds of it (yes Hobb fanbois and fangurrls, the object of your devotion is actually named Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden and "Robin Hobb" is just a pen name to attract the sorts of readers who buy books based on whether or not the author's name sounds cute-and-cuddly).

Why did I write such a lengthy critique/rant of and about Robin Hobb?  Simple:  I want fans of fiction in general and fantasy (my favorite genre) in particular to start to think and be more discerning about what they read, to hold authors to higher standards, and to write more fair, objective book reviews on Amazon and elsewhere online.  I would say that the significant majority of fantasy fiction that has come out in the past decade is garbage or badly flawed.  Book after book I've bought and read and then found myself wondering how on earth it could average above a 2/5-star rating, let alone get over a 4.5/5-star average rating in the Amazon reviews.  Some of it can be chalked up to the publishers employing marketing companies to hire shill reviewers to write fake 5/5-star reviews but much of it is simply people who say to themselves "It's got a knight in armor/crusty wizard/dragon/half-naked-barbarian-babe on the cover, it's fantasy, it must be good!  I've wasted hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours of my time over the past few years on crappy fantasy books that were very highly rated in the customer reviews, and I'd really love for people to start writing more objective, discerning and fair reviews.

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