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.
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.