Review: Royal Assassin, the Farseer Trilogy bk II by Robin Hobb

Photo Credit Penguin Random House

2.5 out of 5 maniupulated stars

This is the 2nd book – please don’t read this if you haven’t read the first, cuz spoilers for the first book.

There are many mysteries and happenings in Buckkeep. The forged ones (those ruined by the Red Ship Raiders and left behind to hector the populace) are converging on the capital. But how? They don’t think for themselves, beyond food to eat and how to keep warm. So who is guiding them? And the weather isn’t in the Six Duchies favor. A balmy fall keeps the raiders raiding longer than usual. Ships are being built, but ships take a long time to build. Fitz is still trying to get his footing with his skilling ability. Despite his talent, it seems something was burnt out of him, or another block was built up during the final struggle at the end of the previous book, and Verity has no time to train him. This seems to be something the author forgot about, because Verity said they would find someone to train him…but there is no one. Except Serene, who is still Galen’s creature (despite the fact he is dead). There is still the meandering tale of the Elderlings… and Kettricken (the new Queen in waiting) thinks the time has come to go after them. Verity decides to go himself, and opens up a shitstorm. He couldn’t go marry his wife in person, but he can go tearing through the mountains, leaving his snake of a younger brother behind to destroy the kingdom? Sigh.

I had so many problems with this. It has a lot of plot, and in the first half or so, it’s nothing but daily grind, where the characters are doin’ their thing and months are passing with a few paragraphs. I feel there might be too many plots. We’ve got Molly and Fitz. Fitz’s recovery from his poisoning in the mountain kingdom. The Red Ship Raiders. The forged ones converging on Buckkeep, which is forgotten about ¾ of the way through. Regal’s obvious and unchallenged interference with the King. The King’s health. Verity’s sudden intention to go find the Elderlings. And Fitz is a bastard and unable to actually do anything about anything. I had a big problem with the tone. This is the most depressing and stressful book I’ve read. I would have paid the author a couple more bucks (and even yes, for the use of the library book) if I could have had a gleam of light. I am reading this series because I’m dying to read the Liveship series, but if this is the tone her books take, I can just find another series to read, because damn. I need some hope, you know?

One thing I hate in a book is reader manipulation. Or maybe it’s plot manipulation. Or maybe it’s just dues ex machina in the worst way. Not the gods coming down and saving the characters, but the hand of the author making things just so for the sake of plot. For instance: Character decides no, I am not going to do the thing. I am going off in this other direction. It will be hard. It will be excellent character development. But I must do it because I have come to this conclusion. Then BAM PLOT HAPPENS! And the character decides no, I shall go back to the plot of the novel and do the thing, thus serving my purpose as the chosen one despite the horrible danger. Or: character decides to sacrifice pleasure and joy and love so that the beloved one does not suffer from attachment to him. That’s it. It’s decided. It must be done. Then BAM PLOT HAPPENS (or opportunity presents itself) and immediately he begins nailing his beloved to the mattress as often as possible, fears apparently dissolved for little to no reason other than the greatest reason of all: love and really great sex. Because let’s face it: if you’re havin’ sex in a book, it’s great sex. OR: Sneaky character takes beloved one of protagonist B out into the wilds and leaves her there in a roundabout fashion to be attacked by (insert dangerous creature). No one thinks this is suspicious. Then sneaky character is faced with horrible trauma and destruction of life and property by the villains. Sneaky character does nothing to counteract said horrible trauma, despite it being his duty. Claims there is no money. Continues to feast and party. No one is suspicious. No one asks a single fucking question. No one cares. Except the bastard who can’t do anything. You’d almost think… (strokes imaginary chin beard with thoughtful fingers) is the sneaky character working with the villains????? (insert shocked faced emoji. I mean that HAS to be what is happening)

You know what I’m talkin’ about if you read the first one.  Regal is traitorous scum, but no one can touch him. Why not? I know you wanna know why. I’m gonna tell you why. For plot. Only for plot. There is no way in hell that anyone would let this worm continue to do what he does, driving the kingdom into the ground, relentlessly, without calling him on it, other than it doesn’t suit the author. I don’t appreciate it. It’s like, if you have a toddler with a shitty diaper running around, you grab him and change him, whether he likes it or not. And the author should not be leaving a kid with a shitty diaper running around for the sole purpose of plot. Something stinks, you know?

The book isn’t terrible, just flawed. The first ¼ is too long and nothing happens, besides Fitz changing his mind every five damn seconds. But then it gets pretty good and you think it’s going somewhere. Except Fitz changing his mind every five damn seconds. One minute he has made up his mind on a course of action (to marry or to abandon Molly, to accept or to drive off the wolf puppy he saved, to serve the King or ask for freedom) and then a half-second later he has completely changed his mind, because PLOT HAPPENED! I could not suspend my disbelief. And I can do that at the drop of a hat.

Another thing that pisses me off – no one believes Fitz. Everyone gives him crap for not trusting anyone, but no one believes him about anything – or they are very eager to believe the worst of him. Molly sees him and smells wine and assumes he’s drunk when he’s suffering from poison. Assumes he was leading her on because he’s the bastard and by rights bastards are… well… bastards. Burrich is only too happy to think Fitz is using the Wit when he’s using skill. Not that he doesn’t use the wit, but Burrich has a hard-on for giving him shit about the wit, so…  But even the men he served alongside and brought to victory are happy to believe horrible things about him and avoid him on principle.

So that was my beefs. I’m going to give the third book a try but if it’s still depressing and hopeless, I don’t know if I’ll go on to the Liveship series. Because that has a misogynist in it and that’s just going to make me rage-quit if her style is just doom and gloom the reader to death.


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