Group read: Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb - Farseer trilogy
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Link back to the main group read organisation thread with a full series listing and timetable.
I wasn't planning to set a timetable for reading certain chapters by a certain date but I would say to use the spoiler tags (<spoiler>spoilery comments</spoiler>) and perhaps also include the chapter in bold so people who are reading along know whether it's safe to read the spoilers.
>5 HanGerg: They all tie together. The Tawny Man is a direct sequel to The Farseer Trilogy. People from Liveships show up in it, though minor. And Liveships does touch on Farseer though you might not realize it until later. The Rain Wilds Chronicles builds upon the Liveships. And though I haven't started them yet, I think Fitz and the Fool series ties them all together. I'll let you know sometime this summer when I read them :)
>4 Arifel: Good to have you with us Adri! That sounds like a good plan but I know that once I start reading I don't think I'll be able to space it out.
>5 HanGerg: Hannah - really?! Wow! Well done! Please do comment as other people start reading.
>6 Narilka: Thanks for the background Gale. I knew the Tawny Man series was a sequel but wasn't sure about the other series.
I just need to finish my current library read then I can dive in!
I'm up to Chapter Thirteen and
In general, the thing I like about both books I've read so far is how real and believable the human interactions feel, for example
>11 HanGerg: Hannah, I had the same question about
I'm starting to be very frustrated with the book.
I think from Kettricken's point of view she's incredibly lonely and very bored as Queen-in-Waiting. Regal can be very charming when he wants to be and I imagine that combination and the offer of some activity (riding - actually getting out of the castle) outweighed her doubts.
And yes, his avoiding Shrewd is not just selfish but dangerous.
I can't promise that those frustrations with Fitz are going to go away - he is in general a very flawed character and as he is our viewpoint character for this trilogy and I think some of the others, I can understand how these books wouldn't work if you find him too annoying.
Fitz and Molly:
Without spoilers, one thing I'm really appreciating on this readthrough is how most of the characters swing so much between being likeable and being totally frustrating and/or unpleasant (with a couple of obvious exceptions who are constantly the worst). It drives home how isolated Fitz is and what an undertaking it is for him to reach out to anyone when he has to so carefully calculate how his partial allies will respond to anything he trusts them with.
Also, (again without spoilers, not least because I don't actually have time to look up how to do the tags right now...!) my favourite character has showed up and I'm super excited to rediscover how their integration plays out.
With spoilers to the end of Book 2 (the spoiler tag is literally the easiest bit of HTML, how did I not remember it):
The ending was exactly as brutal as I remembered. Regal is such a chillingly awful antagonist, and I really appreciate how Hobb makes both his strengths and his flaws play into that role by having other characters underestimate him and ultimately allow him to succeed. I was much less patient with Verity's decision to wander off into the mountains, which felt like it wasn't super well set up - it's so obviously signposted as a terrible decision from the second it's introduced (not least because Regal jumps on it and agrees!) that it's hard to really sympathise with why Verity makes it.
I generally agree with the above discussion about Fitz being a very self-absorbed character, with an odd combination of insightfulness and short-sightedness shaping his worldview. In his defence, at this stage he has almost no experience with interpersonal relationships that aren't ostensibly transactional or instrumentalist - every part of his identity, including his name, is about his status and birth and while we as onlookers can see that other characters love and value him outside of that (Burrich and Patience being the strongest examples), it makes sense that Fitz struggles to build relationships that aren't "use or be used". I can understand why this might cause some people to bounce off, but for me the moments where I want to shake the boy vigorously and tell him to sort himself out are more than balanced out by the character moments where he realises that, yes, his family and friends do value him for more than just what he is useful for, even if many of them also have really messed up ideas of affection and are also trying to use him most of the time.
Took a bit of effort not to just read straight through to Book 3, where I await more (VAGUELY RECALLED BOOK 3 SPOILERS:)
(Very, very mild series set-up spoilers ahead - will put behind tags anyway!) On a side note, the thing that irritated me most on this readthrough was the weird-by-2018 standards of diversity in this book. Like, in theory
>21 Arifel: Potential spoilers for book 3:
For those still reading, we're not due to start the third book, Assassin's Quest, until May so please keep reading and commenting on Royal Assassin here and I'll try to be better at checking the thread.
>22 souloftherose: On diversity
I did notice the lack of women and women in power, but I'd also struggle to think of epic fantasy from the 1990s that don't have the issue. Juliet E McKenna is another epic fantasy author contemporary to Hobb (her first book was published in 1999) and the numbers aren't any better in her works. It's still not an easy sell now to have epic fantasy with lots of women in strong roles - it was probably almost impossible in the 1990s.
>23 souloftherose: Final thoughts:
If I may proceed with some thoughts about this book without spoilers (we're all done, right?)
I got a little frustrated with how, in being preoccupied with his own problems, Fitz failed to see the obvious danger and distress that King Shrewd was in. It also seemed a touch repetitive how he would go to see him, think things were bad and that something should be done, then get distracted by some other thing more important to himself and then move on without addressing it. Linked to this, Verity and Chade seemed unavailable to him a lot. It just felt like typical author manipulation, taking away the mentors so that the main character has to do some of the heavy lifting, kind of like Harry having to fight Voldemort instead of Dumbeldore, because otherwise where's our story?
>21 Arifel: I like your idea that other characters underestimate Regal. That would explain why he's allowed to get away with all the terrible stuff he does. To me, it was another point of frustration with the story, that no-one was keeping a close enough eye on him or giving him too much access to the king and other important players.
For these reasons, it only got 4.5 stars, not 5 like the first book. Yep. Hated it!
And yes, it is all just manipulation - Hobb seems to be another author that throws everything at the main character. Just when you think that there couldn't possibly be anything worse than what has already happened...
It reminds me somewhat of Lois McMaster Bujold's treatment of Miles Vorkosigan - he has gone through everything (and I guess what he hasn't gone through Fitz has.) Although it certainly adds to the suspense and makes one want to keep reading, I think it can sometimes backfire and become frustrating and perhaps a little forced. So far, I'm not there with Hobb...yet.
>12 rretzler: >14 souloftherose: You have to add through the first book, but I think I worked out that Fitz was about 15 or 16 at the end of that one. I lost track of how long this book took - was it one year or two? It begins and ends in winter, anyway. I don't think he can be more than 18 by now, at the most.
It does seem as though folks are superstitious about the Wit and believe that if a person uses it too long, they will forget their human-ness (I'm not sure you can use the word 'humanity' with respect to some of the characters) and turn into a beast, or at least have the mind and manners of a beast in a human body.
>37 archerygirl: Fitz does make some good choices latter in life, but not invariably. He is a more human protagonist than most fantasies present.