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Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1)
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Group Reads Discussions 2010 > "Assassin's Apprentice..." First Impressions *no spoilers*

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message 1: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1636 comments It had to be done.


message 2: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (dawn9655) | 69 comments I'm still reading this, my reading time has been cut because of work. I will say right now, that there seems to be a long trek to get to the 'assassin's apprentice' part. So far, I've got a well-written kid who gets in trouble :)


Geoffrey (Geoffreys) | 44 comments Dawn - keep with it. It gets good.


message 4: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (dawn9655) | 69 comments The way the writing is, I don't doubt it gets good. Robin Hobb is a great crafter of words -- I've read what she's written as Meghan Lindholm and enjoyed it greatly. I just need to make the time.


Chris  (haughtc) | 883 comments It's not a fast paced hellride, that's for sure. But it's very well written and has a great payoff as you get into it....


Patrick Burgess (patrickivanburgess) | 15 comments I thought it was good. Okayishly good. I'm more for Team Brevity than Team ... Verbosity? Longevity? A-Little-TMI-itty? *shrugs*


message 7: by VMom (new)

VMom (votermom) | 45 comments What do you think of the names of the royal family?

(I remember rolling my eyes at them a bit the first time I read the book)


Gregory Haney (haneyg) I agree with that actually. I've read the whole series, and quite a few names are like that. Sure I could understand some symbolism or a lightly veiled metaphor, but it seems like Hobb just said to herself:

"Hey I know, I'll name my characters by by their obvious traits. My main character is a bastard, so a synonym of that (fitz) will be his name. His cool awesome father who would have been the greatest king ever should be something cliche'... hmmm. I've got it! I say chivalry is dead! Hahaha, as for the rest of the characters I'll just follow the trend. King Shrewd, Prince Verity, Prince Regal (bad guy), Lady Patience, etc etc.

...I am so clever."



message 9: by Rick (new)

Rick Pasley (hikr3) | 12 comments I have no problems with the character names. Who cares, this isn't the only fantasy book to ever use that naming convention. The writing is what I enjoy so much about this book. Reading Robin Hobb is like sitting in front of a fireplace wrapped in a tapestry and drinking hot mead while gnawing on a leg of roast beast. With the hounds at your feet. It is just a great experience perfectly aligned with the genre she is writing in.


message 10: by VMom (new)

VMom (votermom) | 45 comments Gregory wrote: "I agree with that actually. I've read the whole series, and quite a few names are like that. Sure I could understand some symbolism or a lightly veiled metaphor, but it seems like Hobb just said to..."
I think it turns out to be more ironic ... (that doesn't count as a spoiler, does it?)


Erick Burnham | 74 comments Mayakda wrote: "Gregory wrote: "I agree with that actually. I've read the whole series, and quite a few names are like that. Sure I could understand some symbolism or a lightly veiled metaphor, but it seems like H..."

I agree, the names contribute more to the story than they first appear. Ms. Hobb is certainly a gifted writer.


message 12: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (dawn9655) | 69 comments The names don't really bother me, least of all "Fitz" since that name (or non-name) does have a bit of a history in the 'real world'. If it was ALL the names, I'd probably have a problem with it, but since it is the ruling family and there is an explanation of sorts, I'll just go along with it to see where it goes.


Janny (jannywurts) | 156 comments Dawn wrote: "The names don't really bother me, least of all "Fitz" since that name (or non-name) does have a bit of a history in the 'real world'. If it was ALL the names, I'd probably have a problem with it, ..."

I read this book when it first came out, having been a longtime reader of Hobb as Megan Lindholm. What made the story work for me (best) was the intricacy of the characters' relationships. The names gave me no trouble at all - funny, how one sees heaps of complaints about the complexity of naming in the fantasy genre - and when this author chooses names with straightforward transparency - it still lifts hairs, for some.

Amazing, the quirks of human nature.
I look forward to this discussion.


message 14: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike (mikespencer) | 75 comments I'm about 200 pages in and I've found the novel to be really engaging. I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed reading about Fitz's early childhood. At this point, I think the book is done with all the setup and it's getting to the meat of the plot. I really like where it seems to be heading. I'd like to say more, but I'll honor the *no spoilers* clause.

Also, to weigh in the royal names. My initial reaction was "how cheesy." Then Hobb gave us a little background and I thought, "that works." I'm okay with them, but I'm having trouble deciding if the idea is clever or just a bit over the top. Either way, the names are small piece of a much larger story and they certainly don't ruin it for me.


message 15: by Bookbrow (last edited Mar 05, 2010 08:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bookbrow | 10 comments I am just into the first chapters, I like the writing style very warm and a concern for detail and the character development so far. I had a bit of a head shake with the royal names but that will quickly pass. I am looking forward to the book.


Libby | 271 comments When I read this one, I too was at first a bit skeptical of the naming – frankly, I worried that the book would be cheesy. However, as the book when on, I was drawn in to the complex characters and the writer’s style - any early reservations I had melted away - I really enjoyed this book and think it’s a standout in the crowded shelves of Fantasy lit. I'm glad to have another opportunity to discuss it.


message 17: by Kaion (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaion (kaionvin) | 38 comments I just started last night (am in middle of chapter two). The names are totally cheesy (and apparently how they actually *fit* the person, 'cause you know how that happens so much). But the writing has been pretty interesting so far, so I don't mind. :)

I like the use of the framing device so far. A little overwrought in introduction, but it isn't referred to incessantly or without purpose, and it thankfully simplifies a lot of the exposition. (And instances of two-people-who-both-know-the-backstory-and-yet-explain-it-to-each-other-anyway-for-the-benefit-of-the-reader in conversations hasn't been numerous.)

Hobb is a fairly good wordsmith. Hope there are female characters soon. (I am totally jaded and the more people talk about how awesome Chivalry is, the more I want him to turn out to be a jerk. But he's described as having a loving marriage, and EVIL people are rarely displayed with loving and offbeat relationships.)


Steven (Skia) | 104 comments I've never minded the cheesy names, but then again in our history it hasn't been that long since names were given because of the meaning rather than as a form of address.


Cindy | 0 comments I've tried Robin Hobb many many times and just couldn't get into the books. I think it was a reasoning that I had too many things going on around me to enjoy it so I was distracted. I really want to retry it sometime but again the wait line at the library for this books is in the 50's :(


Michelle (fireweaver) | 333 comments first couple of chapters were a big snooze. the oh-woe-is-me with no name/i'm awesome in the future so i'll write about my past setup just felt clunky and unispired. i put it down after 3 or so chapters and went and did something else for the rest of the evening. yes, the names were eye-rolling.

for some reason, though, the next day when i picked it up again, all of a sudden it got good. the names got explained as a quirk of the world-building rather than the writing, the story picked up, and pieces just came together. tore right through it in another day or so.

Kaion, i'm with you in missing some women in this world. there are a few female characters, but the ones that are more fully fleshed-out have only brief appearances.


message 21: by Kaion (last edited Mar 14, 2010 05:55AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaion (kaionvin) | 38 comments Steven wrote: "I've never minded the cheesy names, but then again in our history it hasn't been that long since names were given because of the meaning rather than as a form of address."

Oh, I get it. Actually I come from a culture where the "names" are still usable words, be they qualities or poetic things or natural things or references (a real sampling: "perfect", "snow white", "hero", "autumn fragrance", "little rhododendron", "accomplished", "phoenix", "brightness"/smart).

But it's very incongruous when only *some* people have literal-minded names and others... not so much anymore clear.

I have finals the week after this one and my reading is suffering as a result. (And boy am I reading a real snoozer for another group. Hoping to make up my mind on whether to give up on it yet today.)


message 22: by Rob (new) - rated it 1 star

Rob  (RobGhio) | 44 comments About 200 pages in, and I'm perilously close to cycling this one back to half price books. How on earth can you get halfway through a book without an antogonist? There is virtually no "tension" to give the story any texture. At this point the villages are being attacked, but the bad guys are completely unknown to us. My kingdom for a villain. This is what you would get if Frodo never left the Shire.

Getting worked up over character names seems a little silly to me. If the story works, then names don't matter. The problem is, the story just doesn't work. This reflects my problem with a lot of fantasy writing that I encounter. The authors are good at imaginative world building, but what you end up with is a good template for a video game, but many of these authors just aren't good storytellers.

I usually don't give a book more than 100 pages if the "suck" alarm is sounding. I've given this one twice that, in the hopes that there is something more here, and because the book had a cool "feel" to it that was promising. But I think I have been overly generous, and I'm about ten pages from bailing out and moving on to something I can care about.


message 23: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike (mikespencer) | 75 comments Monk, I'm sorry to hear that. I absolutely tore through this book. I thought it was great. You're right, after 200 pages, the story didn't have a specific antagonist, but when the whole world seemed to be against the protagonist, I personally didn't feel like that took away from the story.


message 24: by Rob (new) - rated it 1 star

Rob  (RobGhio) | 44 comments Mike wrote: "Monk, I'm sorry to hear that. I absolutely tore through this book. I thought it was great. You're right, after 200 pages, the story didn't have a specific antagonist, but when the whole world seeme..."

The thing I like about these discussions is seeing the range of reactions to the same material. That said, if I want a protagonist against whom the entire world is hostile, I have a mirror for that...


Kataury I've read the trilogy and the second trilogy three times now and I've found that the name's of all her characters were very subtle and brilliantly effective ways of portraying her characters. She never really explained how Chivalry looked, because Chivalry didn't really need to be explained, it was a perfect way of having her readers thinking of a different man who would look chivalrous, each in their own mind's eye. Fitz was a less adequate form of chivalry, but we can all still see that he has his father's side to him. All the royal names in the book describe and have effect on the character's being, as Hobb said, because we all see regal as someone who would be pompous, which he was, and see shrewd as a king that is... well, shrewd of course! I've never read an author who can describe her characters more fully than she does, knowing the attitudes of the characters added a lot of depth to her story and weave the plot very intricately, focusing on a specific point while subtly working in another thread of her story.


message 26: by Rob (new) - rated it 1 star

Rob  (RobGhio) | 44 comments Kataury wrote: "I've read the trilogy and the second trilogy three times now and I've found that the name's of all her characters were very subtle and brilliantly effective ways of portraying her characters. She n..."

I will preface my offensive comments with "no offense intended," thereby neutralizing the entire effort. But, seriously, you've read this trilogy THREE TIMES? Isn't there something better you could be doing with your time, like stealing hubcaps? I'll give you a pass if you were reading them every 5 years or some such. At least then the reading experience would be different each time. Still...three times...voluntarily....Wow.


Kataury I find reading all books three times is good for a reader. The first time your read something, you go through the adventure, the second time you notice things that you never did before, the third time you understand it like the author. And I enjoyed it enough to read it three times. Of course not back to back just rereading it no. I read it over a month or so.


message 28: by Doc (new) - rated it 4 stars

Doc (docd3) | 56 comments After reading the first trilogy and finding it reminded me of the basic story of Jonah in the bible, it raised the question of whether an oath given is binding no matter what the consequences. After all, Fitz suffers constantly, hurts many people and commits numerous immoral and unethical acts, all in the name of this oath. what do folks think?


Jurgen_i | 16 comments Monk wrote: "About 200 pages in, and I'm perilously close to cycling this one back to half price books. How on earth can you get halfway through a book without an antogonist? There is virtually no "tension" t..."

And my motto: "My kingdom for no villain and no hero!" I want to read books without good and evil characters, because there is no good person or evil person, everybody of us contains both sides. Good/evil are only our evaluative categories to show that we like/dislike smth. I'm against manicheanism, not against "tensions" or conflicts. I've read till the page 100 or so - and there are tensions, maybe not much, but enough.


Jurgen_i | 16 comments It's a pity that i'm reading in translation, that's why i cannot enjoy the master's style :(

Of Hobb's works i really like liveship and soldier son trilogies (although i haven't read all the books of cycles). Reading Assassin's apprentice, i've ascertained once more that she is one of the best masters of psychological issues of the characters and relationships.

What about names. Don't forget that previously only such names were given. People hadn't found out some sound combinations to name somebody, they used words to accent some features of this person. So maybe all the names could be the same as Shrewd etc. And it doesn't irritate me at all.


message 31: by Kaion (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaion (kaionvin) | 38 comments Has no one finished it?

I don't need an antagonist, per se... but I do need a conflict of some sort. I'm on page 118 or so, and nothing's really happened. And Hobb's glancing style doesn't really involve one in the proceedings- I keep being told (in montage-like form) of Fitz's education... it assumes you know all the cliches instead of making it a real experience.


message 32: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike (mikespencer) | 75 comments Things really heat up towards the end. Like any other book, the tension builds gradually until it hits its climax, but perhaps it comes a little later than usual...

As for the style, I thought it worked really well. I liked how the story seemed to be told by an older version of Fitz and that we were simply given a glimpse into his most important and powerful memories.


Jennie (binkin) | 2 comments Rick wrote: "...Reading Robin Hobb is like sitting in front of a fireplace wrapped in a tapestry and drinking hot mead while gnawing on a leg of roast beast. With the hounds at your feet. It is just a great experience perfectly aligned with the genre she is writing in."

I pretty much agree with this. It's hard for me to remember what my first impression was with this book because I've reread it (and the following books) many times; it seems to just hit a sweet spot of some kind for me.


Libby | 271 comments Mike wrote: "As for the style, I thought it worked really well. I liked how the story seemed to be told by an older version of Fitz and that we were simply given a glimpse into his most important and powerful memories.

Agreed - I thought teh style was very effective for the plot. That was one of the things I most enjoyed about this work. Also, I really like Rick's comment repeated in the above post - Hobb really set her scene well and drew you into the atmosphere.


message 35: by Flint (new) - rated it 1 star

Flint | 28 comments This was one of the worst fantasy novels I've ever read. The plot and characterizations were so poor!


Libby | 271 comments Flint wrote: "This was one of the worst fantasy novels I've ever read. The plot and characterizations were so poor!"

Sorry you didn't like it but can you be more specific? Or give examples of what you consider to be some better fantasy novels?


message 37: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill Silverstrim | 3 comments wow...i read this book a few months back. And although I felt like I read 10 books during that time (it's a heavy book, lol) I loved it. So much that I read all three (and it felt like 30, lol)
Peace


message 38: by Kaion (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaion (kaionvin) | 38 comments I think I'm giving up on Assassin's Apprentice... nothing's happened yet! There's some court mechanics and politics stuff, but always summarized rather than *lived*. I need a hook, any kind of hook, really.

And all the talk of how great Chivalry is? Guy's dead. And never actually appears. Snooze.


Richard (mrredwood) | 165 comments Fascinating how different people's reactions are.

The book was a massive tease, and for me that is a very good thing: the gradual seduction into the story and caring for the characters let me feel like I had a sense of who was who and what kind of people they were long before they were thrust into conflict.

Sure, there are plenty of books that start out with conflict, and those can be great, too. But in those you are usually learning about the characters due to how they react to those extreme situations.

But this is the "no spoilers" discussion... I think its about time someone started another topic.


message 40: by Kaion (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaion (kaionvin) | 38 comments I love learning about characters, but it was so ever-present that it was just some nostalgia tour, you know? All colored by Fitz's impression of what happened rather than an organic look at his growth. I mean, if this were a movie, the whole thing would be a series of montages, basically.


Richard (mrredwood) | 165 comments Kaion wrote: "I love learning about characters, but it was so ever-present that it was just some nostalgia tour, you know? All colored by Fitz's impression of what happened rather than an organic look at his growth."

Wow, not my reaction at all. The framing device merely told me he would survive and was almost certainly one of the good guys. Nothing about the trauma of his life, so I got a definite sense of his growth, although I don't think this was the author's strong suit. Even though it was written in the first person, the early chapters weren't in the voice of a six- or seven-year-old, for example.

I was quite confused about what his age was quite a bit, actually. I mean, it's been a long time, but I certainly didn't suddenly recognize "oh yeah! he's definitely a teenage boy now!" (Rowling actually did a fairly good job of that, fwiw).

But even without that change in voice and attitude, I didn't really get much nostalgia out of it. Most of the book was forward-looking, with no substantial foreshadowing of what would come next that I would have expected in a reminiscence.


Sarah | 3877 comments Hmm... Well, I started it and listened to 43% before putting it down. Clearly I completely hate it. Is anybody else doing the audio? This narrator is fabulous! And he makes Fitz even more likable.

I got caught up in it right away because I love the character and the way it's written. I'm trying to figure out how to fit the other extremely long books in.


message 43: by Dionne (new) - added it

Dionne | 21 comments I read it but didn't really get into the book as many books I've read, I tend to do. I liked the main character Fitz(Fritz/whichever) but the story, in my opinion didn't really click with me and I felt kind of let down, for myself and for Fitz/Fritz/whichever.

It was an interesting read though, just not for me. I liked the setting and the main character but felt there wasn't enough action or something in it for me.

Well this is my beginning on starting the book. I'm about half-way through now though so who knows, my opinion may change. Or not. Who knows?


Michelle Morrell (vylotte) | 37 comments Sarah Anne wrote: " I'm trying to figure out how to fit the other extremely long books in. "

I'm six books into the series, and I've parcelled them out so that I read one every three or four months. Also two were vacation books, where I had a good stretch of time and focus. I'm kind of happy to space them out, I can savor them like a treat, because I can only read them for the first time once!

This weekend someone told me Robin Hobb's skill at the craft of novel building only gets better and better over time. This is going to be good.


YouKneeK | 919 comments Sarah Anne wrote: "Hmm... Well, I started it and listened to 43% before putting it down."

Wait… you like it?! Woo hoo! :) These books totally took over my life when I read them.


Chris | 712 comments Kaion wrote: "... always summarized rather than *lived*."

I enjoyed the book, but that aspect of the writing style did seem like a beginner's mistake.

Sarah Anne wrote: "Is anybody else doing the audio? This narrator is fabulous!"

I thought that he was competent but not great — 3/5 stars. Nowhere near my favorite readers, but not painfully bad like Tim Robbins.


Sarah | 3877 comments I absolutely love it :)

I like the narrator because he adds character to a child's voice. I'm not sure how he'll fare in the later books. But I loved Tim Robbins in Fahrenheit 451. He turned a 3.5 star book into a 5 for me.


Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1319 comments I love the 'virtue' names here. Verity, Chivalry, Shrewd. Or any other names. Burrich. Simple yet suits each owner.


Sarah | 3877 comments Hasty was the best :) I thought those would be cheesy at first but I liked how she explained them as magically binding the name to the person. And they really didn't get old for me. It felt like you got immediate insight into the character.


Bruce (Bruce1984) | 382 comments Sarah Anne wrote: "Hasty was the best :) I thought those would be cheesy at first but I liked how she explained them as magically binding the name to the person. And they really didn't get old for me. It felt like yo..."

It kind of adds to the character development. You get a first impression of the person, and then you can build from there.


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