Bookish Things Are My Fantasy: my review of Robin Hobb’s ‘Assassin’s Apprentice’.

Assassin's Apprentice

So bookish things are a bit part of what I want this blog to be. And as I consider myself a person that reads a fair bit, (considering all the other important things going on in my life) one of the ways I hope to share bookish things with you all is by reviewing books that I’ve been reading, whether they be new to me or not.

Despite Robin Hobb being one of the major names in Fantasy, I’m almost a little ashamed to say that this is the first book of her’s I’ve read, (even given one of my younger brothers insistence that I “just gotta’ read it” six or seven years ago) so this one’s firmly in the new/first opinion/definitely not a reread column.  I’ll do my best to be super non-spoilery about it as I share it with you.

In many ways, Assassin’s Apprentice reminded of Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles, being that both protagonists are gifted young boys, more or less orphans, privy to a magic few others possess, and dictating/recording the tale of their travels, triumphs, trials and tragedies… In three parts. For as the ever effluent Miss Prism has counselled us, “do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel.”

Hobb, or rather, Lindholm’s writing style is unique. Classic. Yet particular. Not unlike J K Rowling. She has a weight of historical depth in her writing that adds so wholly to the world you’d think her George R R Martin. Her story winds from place to place, seemingly serial, until at the end everything ties together in a way that you’d think her Neil Gaiman. Her content however is so refreshingly PG in an adult fantasy novel, when compared to the styles of Gaiman or Martin, that you’d think her Robert Jordan. I’d love to find a way to throw Sanderson in there too, as I consider him in many ways my mentor as a writer, but I have a feeling that I’m going to be mentioning him so much in the future that there’s not much point.

I found the book a little slow to grab me in the beginning. It was more her writing style that intrigued me than anything. And I wasn’t really sure whether or not I enjoyed the way that the transition between the italicised counterpoint at the beginning of the first chapter flowed seamlessly into the text in a way that it doesn’t in every other chapter in the book, or whether I found it clumsy.

Sure, publish several books over a few years and suddenly everything you do is intentional, though when newer writers break with the types and tropes of the style or genre, they are ignorant and unskilled. I understand that a certain degree of leeway and latitude is given to one who’s established themselves, but therein lies the problem with readership. And yes, I’m guilty of it too.

When I first read Mistborn, I found it a bit arduous, but by the time I finished the series I thought it was brilliant and epic and one of my favourite things, then reading Stormlight and Elantris and Warbreaker, I found that the more I read of Brandon Sanderson, the more I loved his work. (Oh look, I brought him up naturally anyway) The really interesting part about all of this is, that as I reflect on all of his books, I still think of Mistborn as his clumsiest book(s). Now, logically, I know that that is completely fallacious, because thinking back on the elements of the trilogy, I know it’s awesome. Thusly, rectifying my false memories with a reread is definitely on the to-read list this year, assuming I can get through all of the other books still on the list ahead of me.

So back to conclusions and away from meanderings, I really enjoyed Assassin’s Apprentice. I found that the more I read, the more I wanted to read, and it pulled me through with an exponential velocity. I was also really impressed at the way I could see that this book has inspired other stories I’ve really enjoyed.  I give it four whimsical pirates out of five, and recommend it to fantasy lovers everywhere.


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