Fitz is a royal bastard, cast out into the world with only his magical link with animals for solace and companionship. But when Fitz is adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and learn a new life; weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly. Meanwhile, raiders ravage the coasts, leaving people soulless. As Fitz grows towards manhood, he will have to face his first terrifying mission, a task that poses as much risk to himself as it does to his target.
Reviewed on 7th December 2010
Having enjoyed Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series I decided to dive into some other recent popular fantasy series, starting with Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy. The first book tells the story of Fitz, illegitimate son of a prince, who finds himself returned to his grandfather's castle and be trained for a life of service to the King.
This story covers Fitz's life for about ten years from the age of six upward. It is presented as an autobiography by the character, who claims he is meant to be writing a history of the kingdom but ends up just telling his own tale.
As such, the pace of the story varies wildly, with some days being described in full detail and other years flying past. The book doesn't really pick up a plot of it's own until fairly late on, and if I didn't know that it was only the first third of the story it would disappoint me that it doesn't have obvious threads that run all the way through. It's a lot of build up for not much actual action.
The details and subtlety are what make this book. Fitz and the other characters are distinct and believable, and the fantasy elements are kept at a bare minimum to the point where the reader could almost think it in the real world. Some readers of course will find this means the world Hobb has constructed is lacking, but to me it showed a sensible restraint from alienating the audience.
Despite there being a shortage of plot, the life of Fitz makes for fascinating reading and I will certainly be continuing on to the rest of the trilogy.