There's a (small) story behind picking up this book in the first place.
I have a terrible habit of judging a book by its cover. I admit, I get swept up...moreThere's a (small) story behind picking up this book in the first place.
I have a terrible habit of judging a book by its cover. I admit, I get swept up in grand descriptions and back-cover promises that so many publishing companies are so adept at churning out. Because of this habit I have picked up some, well, real stinkers. The most recent of these being Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Which, while not terrible, did leave something to be desired.
So, while on a lunch break one day, I set some rules for myself to find a book.
1. <$10, I'm not willing to risk more than ten bucks on a potential stinker. 2. Paperback Sci Fi/Fantasy. I love these genres, but diving headfirst into this particular stack in the local B&N can be a terrifying, and not always gratifying, journey. 3. Something had to be wrong with it. Terrible cover art, cheesy description, overly enthusiastic yet strangely obscurely sourced praise- everyone knows the kind of thing I'm talking about.
So, these brought me to this. The paperback I found squished between two misappropriated Romance titles and The Necronomicon had all of these things. A terrible cover featuring a methed-out Charles Dance in a long white robe, young Mark Hamill crouched down like he just discovered his lactose intolerance after gorging himself on cheese, and all in glorious 80's acrylic portrait style. To top it off, the back raved about Prince Chivalry, King Shrewd, and the bastard's role in saving the WHOLE KINGDOM because why not?
Do I have to say that I loved this book?
Because I did.
I knew nothing about the author or the series, and I only researched enough to know that this was either the author's debut work, or the first of a series (as both my brother and I have purchased middle-of-series books without being aware of it). So I went in with fresh eyes, even managing to shelve my natural cynicism and snark.
There isn't much to say about the story, really. Fitz is the bastard of Prince Chivalry (whose name is not nearly as ridiculous once the lore is explained) and is taken into the court once his maternal grandfather decides he's had enough of feeding him. King Shrewd, the boy's paternal grandfather, sees the value of having him and decides to train him as his personal assassin. The boy is essentially given to Chade (aforementioned methed-out Charles Dance) for tutelage and he does well- but finds himself struggling with The Wit. This is a power to go inside the mind of animals, but one that can easily overcome one's humanity.
What really drew me into this book was the realism. There is a scene in which two characters need to get somewhere quickly on horseback. It's simple, but in most cases the author would have the characters riding breakneck pace all night, but Robin Hobb knows how horses work. Do you understand how rare that is in fantasy novels? Everything has that touch of realism. People can't gallop horses all night or ride safely up steep cobbled paths. The MC can't withstand ridiculous amounts of physical pain, he is not especially resistant to things that others succumb to, he's not OMG THE MOST AMAZINGEST EVAR. He's a real person. They are all real people.
**spoiler alert** I'm a little past halfway in this book and it's a good novel, but one that I'm struggling to get back into. As soon as the main char...more**spoiler alert** I'm a little past halfway in this book and it's a good novel, but one that I'm struggling to get back into. As soon as the main characters got used to the ship it started to get boring for me. I like the characters and the descriptions of the aliens, but I've never really been a fan of alien-invasion stories.(less)