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Assassin's Quest: The Farseer    by Robin Hobb order for
Assassin's Quest
by Robin Hobb
Order:  USA  Can
Spectra, 1998 (1997)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the third - following Assassin's Apprentice and Royal Assassin - in Robin Hobb's extraordinary Farseer trilogy. It all began with a young mother's handover of Prince Chivalry's bastard son to the King's servants. FitzChivalry Farseer was raised by his father 's embittered man, Burrich. His grandfather, King Shrewd, later had him trained as an assassin by Chade. Fitz grew up talented in two forms of magic, the Wit and the Skill.

After Chivalry died, the new heir, Prince Verity was kept busy using his own Skill against the Red Ship Raiders whose unrelenting attacks left folk Forged - mindless and worse than beasts. Verity married Kettricken of the Mountain Kingdom, but disappeared on a quest to seek the mythical Elderlings' help against the Red Ship Raiders. His younger brother, Prince Regal, plotted to gain the throne, managed to dispose of his father, and tried to seize Kettricken, then pregnant with Verity's child. She fled to her own people. Fitz was tortured and believed to be dead by all who knew him, including his lover Molly.

As this third episode opens, Fitz is revived by Burrich and taught to be human again. He's anxious about Molly's safety, and consumed by his hatred of Regal, who's supported by a powerful coterie of the Skilled. Accompanied by the wolf Nighteyes, with whom the Wit allows him to communicate, Fitz journeys, meeting others of the Old Blood (possessing the Wit) along the way. He falls in with a minstrel named Starling, who's seeking a hero song, and a mysterious old woman named Kettle. Fitz fails in his vengeance, but reunites with the Fool and Kettricken in the Mountains.

As Regal's troops attack the Mountain Kingdom, a small expedition - Fitz and Nighteyes, the Fool, Starling, Kettle, and Kettricken - follow Verity's trail, Regal's coterie not far behind them. They discover the true nature of the Elderlings and, in an action-packed finale, Fitz fulfills his destiny as the catalyst, while a great magic and a great sacrifice saves the kingdom. This Farseer series is a must read for anyone who enjoys fantasy.

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