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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom. Praise for Robin Hobb and Assassin’s Apprentice “A gleaming debut in the crowded field of epic fantasies . . . a delightful take on the powers and politics behind the throne.”—Publishers Weekly “This is the kind of book you fall into, and start reading slower as you get to the end, because you don’t want it to be over.”—Steven Brust…

Overall Book Review:

Assassin’s Apprentice begins the tale of Fitz, a young man who is of royal blood, but was born on the wrong side of the sheets. This is a tale of palace intrigue and wartime strategies. It is also a tale of growing up and finding one’s place in the world. The story is at times perilous and filled with the excitement of adventure and at other times poignant and filled with the emotional depth of loneliness, friendship, or loss. Though the story focuses on Fitz, he is joined by a cast of colorful characters, and the author is adept at bringing those characters to life in such a way that the reader becomes invested in the outcome of their fates.

Robin Hobb displays great skill in building the world in which her novel takes place. The politics of various kingdoms and the cultures and beliefs held by their inhabitants are detailed and well-developed. This immersive world and the unique aspects of the setting and its inhabitants give the book a believability that sets it apart as superior to many fantasy novels. This is an engrossing read, and it leaves the reader anxious to start the next book of the trilogy.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamations; 19 mild obscenities; 3 derogatory names; 3 scatological words.

Note:  The word “bastard” is used properly many times to refer to a child born out of wedlock. The word “bitch” is used a few times to mean an actual literal female canine. Neither of these uses is counted into the language rating.

Violence/Gore:  A few verbal threats; characters spar; a few reports of rape (no details); a few reports of massacres and raiding of villages; a few reports of murder; report of an execution; a few reports of fights; a few report of injuries and death in war; a few reports of babies killed; report of violent punishments, such as disfigurement, for breaking laws; a few reports of suicides; report of an accident with injury; a character contemplates suicide; characters plot an assassination; a few attempted murders; report of an assassination; report of a man killed by an animal; report of a character killed by drug use; an adult beats a teen, sometimes brutally, as punishment a few times; a few fights, some with bloody injury; a somewhat graphic medical procedure is carried out; a character is poisoned; a character is killed by magic; a few scenes in which an animal is killed.

Sex/Nudity:  Characters hug, kiss, and flirt a few times; boys joke about one of them having a crush on a woman; the word “rape” isused as a nonsexual metaphor for an invasive attack; report of animals mating; mention of prostitution; mention of a man’s lack of prowess in the bedroom; a few reports of a rape (no details); a few reports of couples having sex; a character implies (erroneously) that a man and a teen boy have a sexual relationship; report that a man took sexual advantage of a mentally handicapped girl.

Mature Subject Matter:

Child (teen) abuse (physical and emotional); bullying; rape (mention); war; slavery (mention); assassination; suicide (contemplated, reported); alcoholism and drug addiction; death (parent, sibling; friend; pet); prostitution (mention); piracy; theft.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink alcohol; a child drinks beer; a teen drinks alcohol, sometimes to drunkenness; characters use medicinal and intoxicating herbs; characters smoke a calming and hallucinogenic drug; poisons are used; a horse is drugged.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.