Mark Lawrence's Reviews > Fool's Assassin

Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb
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Aug 20, 2014

it was amazing

Reading Robin Hobb makes me feel like I'm back in school ... or it would do if that were where I learned to write fiction. I have on occasion felt rather pleased with my writing, but reading Hobb's work always makes me realise I've got a long way to go.

Hobb's particular mastery is in characters and the relationships between them. No story is going to work in the long term unless the characters hold you, unless you care what happens to them. Hobb doesn't rely on shock or purple prose, she uses the understated power in close observation and an intimate knowledge of her subject.

In Fool's Assassin we're starting a third trilogy with characters that first came to the page 19 years ago. Many readers will have literally grown up with Fitz and the Fool, some others may have grown old with them. Two decades is long enough to see substantial changes in the readers, the characters, and the writer herself.

This is a book that wouldn't be possible without the groundwork laid before. It builds on the history we have with these characters and exploits it. The story that we see unfold has echoes the story that has gone before. Like a piece of music it builds on themes, reflects earlier melodies, improvises around them, and plays an old refrain.

Sections of the story that I can't describe for fear of spoilers hit particularly strong chords with me and were very moving, but whatever individual experience you bring to the book it's going to play on your heartstrings.

This isn't a high adrenaline book, though there's plenty of tension. It's more subtle than that, a more reflective and slower-paced tale. Hobb works her magic though and I felt gripped throughout. A powerful, passionate book that takes #1 spot on my reading list this year.

I've said in the past that I wanted to be careful not to wear out my characters' welcome. It can be an uncomfortable reading experience to fall out of love with a character, to grow bored with them. The lead character in my first trilogy, Jorg Ancrath, burned very bright and that intensity couldn't be sustained over a long series. With Fitz however I find that none of the enchantment has been lost and that it's not habit that keeps me following his story - it's because it's as strong and compelling as ever it was and a privilege to walk the pages with him.


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Reading Progress

August 20, 2014 – Started Reading
August 20, 2014 – Shelved
August 20, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
August 20, 2014 –
page 47
7.46%
August 20, 2014 –
page 47
7.46% "Great to be back with these characters!"
August 23, 2014 –
page 85
13.49% "Hobb offers a non-nostalgic look at nostalgia. The writing has an understated power to it. That's the honesty showing through - you know she's lived it."
September 14, 2014 –
page 214
33.97% "Hobb offers a non-nostalgic look at nostalgia. The writing has an understated power to it. That's the honesty showing through - you know she's lived it."
September 14, 2014 –
page 214
33.97% "A very emotional book! There are some scenes with Fitz and Nettle and a child that got me."
September 16, 2014 –
page 491
77.94% "Hobb's writing sucks you down so gently you hardly notice it ... then when you're nice and vulnerable, stabs you in the heart. There's nothing showy about her writing, but her gentle, understated prose, works wonders."
September 20, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-46 of 46) (46 new)

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Hudson Great review, loved this series.


message 2: by Nadine (new) - added it

Nadine Great review. Definitely have to read this soon!


message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Thanks, Mark, for really taking part in the GR's community as an author and a reader.

So many authors, big ones and little ones, just use GR's as a marketing platform. It makes a big difference when I see an author not only posting about their own stuff, but showing how they're a fan too.

I can't help but wonder... what would Jorg think about this behavior?


message 4: by Nadine (new) - added it

Nadine I agree with Chris wholeheartedly! And I do like to follow your recommendations/ reviews. Funnily enough I picked up Prince of Thorns based on Robin Hobb's review, now I will read her book because of you... ;-)


message 5: by Jacinta (new)

Jacinta Hoare Robin Hobb's books are great (well, I love most of them) so I am pleased you are also enjoying them.


Avivs Reading it right now.


Kenneth Geary For years I was crushed by the fact that Robin Hobb had said herself that there would not be another Fitz book, but WHAM there it is. I'm so excited for the rest of the story this book did tug on the heartstrings as you said and basically is a giant prologue to get us up to speed for Bee's story.


Tracey the Lizard Queen I've really been wanting to read this, but promised my other half I wouldn't buy anymore books until the new year. :'(


Kevin the longer you wait for the first the shorter the wait for the second


Tracey the Lizard Queen So true! Its horrible having to wait for the next one! And this gives me an excuse to read all the other books that I've been meaning to get into.


Kevin Sometimes it is nice to read those completed series and single books on the long tbr list


Tracey the Lizard Queen I've just been looking at my bookshelf (both physical and kindle) and realised I've got more than enough to keep me going! I suppose my husband was right when he said I have an addiction!


Peter In complete agreement with you. Loved this book so much and cannot wait for the next two.


message 14: by Zakgirl (new)

Zakgirl Mark, is it necessary to read the previous books? Or, can it be understood without prior reading?


Kevin You can read this book without reading the other series but those series are so good and you will have plenty of time to read them while waiting for this series to end.


message 16: by Jake (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jake Clark Loved the Farseer series have been wanting to tead this for ages but I've got so much on my to read list!


message 17: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Zakgirl wrote: "Mark, is it necessary to read the previous books? Or, can it be understood without prior reading?"

I think you would lose a lot. It's not that you would technically not be able to follow/understand the story, it's that none of it would hit home with anything like the same force - you wouldn't know the people's backgrounds or the emotional bonds between them.

Start at the beginning :)


message 18: by KC (new) - added it

KC Alexander I also appreciate your reviews and recommendations. Both Polansky's work and Hobb's I picked up from your recommendations. Both authors now hold top honors in my library alongside your work. Thank you!
Also, the feels... Oh, the feels!! That first secondary POV chapter was so well delivered that I had to put the book down and walk around for a bit to compose myself.


message 19: by Simon (new) - added it

Simon Slangen @Zakgirl: Mark is right. You wouldn't be completely lost if you skipped the first trilogy, but you'd be missing out nevertheless.


message 20: by Tony (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tony V How does a person immerse themselves in writing the neurosis of a character like Hobb does?
I identify with Fitz because as I read along I become him. At the same time I am outside of him hoping for the best and shaking my head in dread as he processes his thoughts just the way he always has.
He is only human I guess :)


Jessica not realising that this was a previous trilogy I did what you all advised against and read this one first. at first certain things did not make sense however I worked it out and fell in love with the complicated characters. now I am hunting down the preceding books. she has totally hooked me.


Sustenance @Mark @Simon @Zakgirl

This was the first Fitz and Fool book I read. I didn't know there were previous books... and I still loved it! Now I am definitely going back and starting at the beginning to get more of this awesome storyline and to fulfill curiosities about character inceptions!


message 23: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim "...a non-nostalgic look at nostalgia."
YES. I keep trying to talk to people about this book & THAT'S what I keep trying (and failing) to describe. Thank you!


message 24: by Leona (new) - added it

Leona Can't wait to read these!


Jared Twitchell One of my all-time favorite series. It wasn't that way until the latest two additions though. As Mark mentioned, you grow more attached to the characters as the story evolves. I tire easily of characters in long series. I feel like authors only keep them around because it's an easy way to sell a book (Goodkind...). This is THE exception.
And yes, her prose is brilliant. If you like Patrick Rothfuss you will enjoy Hobb.


Kirsty this book absolutely ruined me. I forgot how good Robin Hobb was!


message 27: by Martin (new) - added it

Martin Thanks for the great review Mark, this book sounds exactly like I hoped. I can't wait to read it.


message 28: by Halima (new) - added it

Halima I've had this on my shelf ever since it was published, reading this review makes me wonder why on earth I haven't got round to reading it yet!


message 29: by Alan (new) - added it

Alan You don't have a long way to go, you are mid-stream full in the throes of the current of YOUR OWN STYLE, it's good, it works, roll with it.


message 30: by Liz (new)

Liz Monroe I just wanted to say thank you for introducing me to Robin Hobb's works. I just finished Assassin's Apprentice and I can't wait to dive further into this series. I'm officially hooked!


Nerine Dorman You know, reading your review today after having reviewed The Tawny Man (and prepping to write my reviews for the last two books currently available for Fitz) I resonate very strongly with everything you've said in this review.


Brightfeather lovely review


message 33: by Aidan Chavasse (new)

Aidan Chavasse Hasmoved up finishing the early books on my list.


Juniper Nichols I'm with you. I'm waiting for my signed copy of the last book to arrive and I'm DYING over here, I can't wait to see what happens to everyone!


message 35: by Debi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Debi Your review is as good as the book. Have to agree with everything you have said.


Juniper Nichols #1 for me this year, too. These characters will always live inside me, you're absolutely right that the veracity and intimacy of these relationships (both character to character, and character to reader), are Hobb's greatest strength. She writes the story as the characters tell it, according to how they would really interact with each other and circumstances. I think many of those who felt dissatisfied were looking for patterns they see in other epic tales, or wanted to see their head-canon legitimized. Understandable, since all we could do during the wait was fantasize what they would do :-) Now that the saga is complete, it's still very easy to speculate about the paths of myriad characters (since they feel like real people). The road goes ever on and on, whether or not it gets written.


message 37: by Christa (new)

Christa I read all of these books before I read your Jorg Ancrath books. Believe me, you are the top of your class! Robin Hobb and Fritz were the first fantasy books I had read and loved them enough to keep reading and loving fantasy, but please let's not compare the wonderful Jorg to Fritz or the Fool! No comparison! Jorg, and you, rule!!!


message 38: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Juniper wrote: "#1 for me this year, too. These characters will always live inside me, you're absolutely right that the veracity and intimacy of these relationships (both character to character, and character to r..."

Wow, you're a harsh marker then! :)


message 39: by Ola (new)

Ola Janik Mark I Loved your series and characters. I also loved Hobbs other books but I totally disagree with your review. The entire book should have been a prologue for the next one. The descriptions of clothing and what they were wearing would make Robert Jordan proud. It's like Fitz lost all his intuition and skill and forgot everything he learned and went through. From the beginning the lack of common sense and putting 2 and 2 together were maddening. He has the same information as the readers yet can't seem to make any connections. BORING, even if it was well written. I just don't see the 5 star review.


message 40: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Ola wrote: "Mark I Loved your series and characters. I also loved Hobbs other books but I totally disagree with your review. The entire book should have been a prologue for the next one. The descriptions of cl..."

Well, the reader is given the important information relatively undiluted (albeit with plenty of sartorial description) but the characters are flooded with the all the information of their lives and can't see the wood for the trees. Stories are rather like history in that regard. World leaders often look foolish in hindsight for not seeing what now seems obvious.

Over half the 26,000 readers to rate this here have given it 5*, so I'm clearly not alone. Sorry that it didn't work so well for you though.


message 41: by Valerie (new) - added it

Valerie I just found this book at the library today. After reading this review, I'm guessing I should take this book back and search for an earlier set of books... where do I begin?


message 42: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan It's a pleasure, as a reader of both you and Robin Hobb, to see such high praise of the other's work! You're both fantastic and I've devoted hours to reading you both. *Contented sigh* I love books :)


message 43: by Bhavik (new) - added it

Bhavik Wonderful review! I recebtly got my eyes on it and have half a mind to indulge into this!

I have been meaning to get into reading her books but I know there are lot of books written by her.
Do you have any order in mind from where I should start ? Or any random series will do?


message 44: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Bhavik wrote: "Wonderful review! I recebtly got my eyes on it and have half a mind to indulge into this!

I have been meaning to get into reading her books but I know there are lot of books written by her.
Do yo..."


Start here!

There is a map through the books in my review of Assassin's Fate. Don't read that review but do look at the 2nd picture:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 45: by Bhavik (new) - added it

Bhavik Mark wrote: "Bhavik wrote: "Wonderful review! I recebtly got my eyes on it and have half a mind to indulge into this!

I have been meaning to get into reading her books but I know there are lot of books writte..."


Thank you very much!
That was indeed very helpful! :)


message 46: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan I think I did the first and third segments on that map, then I did Liveship and Dragons, then met back up at the end. It worked well like that, too


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