Author: Robin Hobb
Pages: +- 435
Part one of the Farseer Trilogy
When all seems to be well, some things will most certainly change. This time it seemed so small, yet the results were unthinkable.
A bastard is brought to court, the bastard of the King-in-waiting Chivalry. Though raised by his father’s stableman his life is far from ordinary.
While raiders ravage the coast, the bastard Fitz will learn how to be unlike any other.
Folk beliefs claim that such names were sealed to the newborn babes by magic, and that these royal offspring were incapable of betraying the virtues whose names they bore.
King Shrewd rules his kingdom of the six duchies, while his perfect son Chivalry is king in waiting. No one however had expected this from the perfect monarch-to-be.
One day, a man came to the gates and dropped of a boy, saying he had fed the child long enough and that it was now his father’s turn to take care of him.
That was how the court came to know of Chivalry’s bastard son.
The child, only six years old at that time, is brought inside where he meets his uncle Verity. Some time passes and then he meets a man called Burrick, a man loyal to his father, a stableman. And because his father is not there to take care of the boy, Burrick does. From that point the boy is known as Fitz. Fitz is taken to Buckkeep some time later. Little did he know of the plans his grandfather, the king, has for him. Until one night, while he is vast asleep in his own room, a door opens and a man calls for him.
I really wanted to like this book. And I really tried, but after I read the back cover I started to have my doubts because of this simple sentence:
And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
Yes I know it shouldn’t affect me reading this book, but it did.
This book is a reason why I mostly dislike a story written in first person. The reason for that is simple: I feel like I miss this very large part of the story.
The narrator of the story is Fitz himself. At the start of the first chapter he’s this old man looking back on his youth. Throughout the story it’s just all about him because, obviously, he is the one telling the story. But because you only see events from his point of view you miss out on a lot. For example:
1. He’s brought to see Verity and you only see things from his perspective. So you can’t possibly understand how it is for him, or for Burrick for instance, that suddenly he has this unknown nephew in front of his.
2. You know everything about him, but again nothing about the people who teach him or who are in his direct environment.
3. You know nothing, or next to nothing, about the history of the country or the past of the family. So again: Large gap in knowledge as a reader. Also there is talk of raiders but again, no clue to who/what these raiders are.
4. Things just go so very fast at several points in the story because, again, you have no idea what is really going on because you as a reader only knows that the narrator knows: nothing…
But next to the whole I-don’t-particularly-like-a-narrator-thing there were some positive sides to this book. I like the concept itself. About half or 2/3 of the story you’ll read a history of the people of the six duchies and the islands beyond. I like how Robin Hobb involved politics into the story because everyone can relate to that, even a little bit. Also a plus: I like the way she put up a like medieval setting for this story. The raiders, who are more like Vikings to me, and the land folk who are like any country in the Middle Ages.
The way she involved magic in this story was very subtle. It wasn’t overly there but it was around in more than one way.
So in short:
I guess I had high hopes for this book and because of that I seemed to dislike it a little. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a horrible book or anything. I just thought there was something missing. I am looking forward to reading the sequel and I hope that it will bring that little something I am looking for.
There are some positive points to this story: I like the concept, the setting and the way Robin Hobb brought magic into this story.
But because of the fact that I am a little sceptic about this book, I’ll give it three stars because I think it is okay but I don’t really love it or anything of the sort.