Mark Lawrence's Reviews > Assassin's Fate

Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb
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it was amazing

The folks at Voyager know I am a fan of Robin Hobb and were kind enough to send me #4 of 50 in this limited edition of Assassin's Fate.

Why the fuss? Well, this book is the conclusion of a twenty-two year journey (over fifty years in book time) through the world Robin Hobb has created. The protagonist who has led us in that journey is Fitz, the assassin mentioned in the title (and the apprentice mentioned in the title of the first book, Assassin's Apprentice, released in 1995).

Officially the journey runs thusly:

Though Fitz (as far as I know) only appears in the Fitz & Fool series which are the 1st, 3rd and 5th series in the image above.

Now, to the book! First I should note that I haven't read the Liveship or Rain Wild series. This is significant as although those books and their characters don't seem to have any significant impact on the Tawny Man trilogy, they do have a minor impact on Fool's Quest and a major impact on Assassin's Fate.

Because of my not having read those two series I am certain that sizable chunks of Assassin's Fate had far less impact on me that they otherwise would have had. Much of this book is spent travelling on liveships crewed by people who I believe are central to the Liveship trilogy, and passing through ports where yet more characters from that series reside. There are many points in Assassin's Fate where I had the distinct feeling that an event was somehow momentous ... but it passed me by. As a writer I could tell that the story was spending far too long with some "minor" characters and understood that this must because they had in previous books earned their right to page time.

So, although I've given the book 5* there is the chance that had I read those other 7 books I might have been raging that I couldn't give it 6*! Also, the 5* are based on the power, impact and entertainment from those sections where I wasn't missing anything.

To the text in hand! Well, you all know how Robin Hobb writes. Slow, beautiful prose, building character relationships, turning the screw on the protagonists, piling on the hurt, and then to a conclusion. The same thing happens in this book. The writing is rich and satisfying and I consumed the first two thirds of the novel in many small bites. Toward the end when we largely won clear of the characters and plot lines from the books I haven't read I began to move more quickly through the pages. The pace and tension pick up and you really begin to wonder what the end game will consist of. How will Fitz, the Fool and little Bee end up? Will Hobb show any mercy to these characters we've grown to love (over decades for Fitz and the Fool)?

I enjoyed the Bee thread the most, possibly because it was free of the Liveship/Rainwilds entanglements. Also Bee is a fierce and determined little creature that it's impossible not to root for. After having so much abuse heaped upon her it's very satisfying on the occasions that Bee strikes back.

I won't go into the plot. Hobb continues to paint a rich, interesting, and integrated world, she works her usual magic with the story, and it's a great read. Then you get to the last fifty or a hundred pages. The finale that 21 years, 17 books, and the several fictional lives have been building up to.

I thought I was handling it pretty well. Several things happened that I thought might happen and I bit my lip and carried on reading. Then...


I don't know why that scene was so powerful for me where others flowed over me. But it was. And from that point on had I not been such a manly author of GRIMDARK I would probably have been working my way through a box of tissues and pretending to any nearby family that I had hay-fever.

So, the ultimate ending... Bitter sweet as you might expect. Lots of bitter, and a fair bit of sweet too. Capping off such an epic work of fiction / literature was always going to be a monumental ask. To my mind Robin Hobb pulled it off. She managed to close the back cover on story in a way that stayed true to the characters and all that had gone before, and in a way that will likely have a lasting impact on the fantasy landscape. The ending will certainly stay with me, joining my small collection of iconic fantasy moments.

So, get reading. I won't lie, it's going to hurt, but you'll also be glad that you did it.

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Reading Progress

June 6, 2017 – Started Reading
June 6, 2017 – Shelved
June 11, 2017 –
page 74
8.74% "I'm devouring this slowly. It's very rich. A whole meal in 25 pages."
June 29, 2017 –
page 268
31.64% "There are episodes I want to watch on Netflix but I read instead. And while I like TV somehow reading is less passive, your imagination is constantly at work, dancing around the author's. Reading a book leaves you feeling more alive. Watching a TV ... it's closer to just passing the time.

This is good stuff."
July 14, 2017 –
page 492
58.09% ""Bee. Nothing happens to you. You happen to everything."

A great line!"
July 18, 2017 –
page 847
100.0% "I was alright until near the end. I thought, "I'm handling this all pretty well". then all of a sudden near the end *ooof* ... and now I have to pretend I have hay-fever."
July 22, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)

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Juniper Nichols It's interesting to hear how it was for someone who's only read the Fitz ones! Oddly, I didn't sob at the obvious points either, just at the point where a certain new life's name was revealed. 😭

TheBohemianBookworm I can relate to this reviewer completely. I too have only ready the fitz and fool books so I was a little caught off guard by the amount of attention other characters received.

Beverly Fuqua Just finished this book myself. Loved it even more than the rest. The ending was powerful.

Férial The scene you mention was also a powerful one for me. Alas, I am not a manly author of grimdark, so I did work my way through a box of tissues.

message 5: by Benjamin (new) - added it

Benjamin Spacagna Looking forward to finishing the journey!

Helen Finished this yesterday. Lots of crying!

Mark Lawrence Helen wrote: "Finished this yesterday. Lots of crying!"

+shakes fist at Robin Hobb!+

Elaine Wow, what a beautiful edition. I have been saving this book for my thanksgiving break when I have long periods of time to just appreciate her writing. Looking forward to it.

message 9: by David (new)

David Zampa Hobb is such a champion of the fantasy genre.

Helen I listened to the first 2 of this particular trilogy and had intended to listen to this too. However, the male narrator was changed and the new one mispronounced names. I gave up and ordered a beautiful paper edition.

Made me wonder why that could happen.

message 11: by ADPreadsYA (new) - added it

ADPreadsYA That is a BEAUTIFUL book! I'm just finishing up my first adventure into the Realm of the Elderlings with Assassin's Apprentice. Is the map above the correct reading order? Or will it matter as long as I read each series in its own order?

Mark Lawrence Helen wrote: "I listened to the first 2 of this particular trilogy and had intended to listen to this too. However, the male narrator was changed and the new one mispronounced names. I gave up and ordered a beau..."

Whenever anyone has complained to me about this sort of thing it is because they have got hold of the UK edition of the audio book for some and the US edition for others.

Which shouldn't be possible as they are not permitted to sell in the same regions...

Helen Mine were all UK from audible. I assumed the male narrator was unavailable. The female voice was the same. I really should look up the names!

Helen Lee Maxwell-Simpson was changed to David Thorpe.

Mark Lawrence Helen wrote: "Lee Maxwell-Simpson was changed to David Thorpe."

That's very unusual, and regrettable. I imagine (or at least hope) that they did everything they could to avoid that.

Helen There were a lot of sad reviews on audible. I’d already decided I’d prefer to read it as it would’ve become irritating. The initial guy was so good so it was quite a change but for errors.

However, reading it meant that my enjoyment was guaranteed. Obviously not counting the copious tears ;)

Helen *despite the errors

Auto-correct hates me!

message 18: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Hofmann i'd recommend the Liveship trilogy. The Rain Wilds trilogy didn't do much for me - I don't remember it having much of an impact on the Tawney Man stories. I'd also recommend her Soldier Son trilogy which is not set in this world but nonetheless showcases her great imagination and ability to make characters you really care about.

message 19: by Joanne (new)

Joanne Just started the Assassin's trilogy-my second R.Hobb read and totally immersed in it

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