The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

I like to divide books into plot driven and character driven books. This is the second series I’m reading where the narration is in the first person. The first was The Black Company series. Despite that, I found this book to be plot driven rather than character driven. There’s no doubt as to the main character though. FitzChivalry is his name and he begins life as a royal bastard and progresses to influence the outcome of every major plot for the next two decades or so.

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Warning – I give away a few spoilers.

It’s not your ordinary type of fantasy novel that’s for sure. The hero doesn’t get powerful enough to beat up the bad guys. The hero doesn’t always win. In fact, quite the opposite. Fitz is such a pathetic coward that it’s difficult for me to feel any kind of admiration for him. He’s trained as an assassin but is dreadfully incompetent. He’s just a lapdog of his king and prince and doesn’t possess any kind of courage. He’s also a compulsive liar. He lies for no apparent reason – or makes up convoluted reasons for doing so. He’s childish and stupid, failing to put together clues I figured out an entire book in advance.

Specifically when he simply misses the fact that Molly is pregnant even though she all but tells him. I can’t help but feel that Molly expected him to figure it out. Sadly, she overestimated his intelligence. Fitz’s idiocy is only matched by the brilliance of the main villain – Regal. Using nothing but his wits and intelligence, Regal is able to manipulate everyone around him even turning obvious defeats into great victories. That guy should have been the hero of the novel.

Fitz’s redemption comes in the form of his wolf companion – Nighteyes. Though they don’t meet till midway through the second novel. A lot of the humor, affection and plain common sense come from the wolf. Fitz just kind of blunders along borne on the wind. His cowardice is so rampant and absolute that I spent most of the second book annoyed and frustrated as Regal just dances all over him. He’s supposed to be the “King’s man”. That is a person totally devoted to the kind body and soul. And yet when he all but knows for a fact that his king is being poisoned by Regal, he does nothing. Each time he visits his king, he’s “shocked” at how much worse his appearance is. And yet, great assassin that he is, he’s too much of a pussy to do anything about it. Why? Because his king didn’t tell him to Duh! He’s the king is being systematically poisoned in front of everyone’s eyes and not in a position to defend himself. What do you think the king would want Fitz to do?

And when the inevitable happens and the king dies, Fitz goes into a berserk rage killing two people in broad daylight. Some assassin! But more than anything else, I was frustrated by Fitz’s lies. He lies to his friends and his lover/girlfriend/wife when it’s painfully obvious that his lies are putting them off and turning them away. It’s one of the reasons Molly left him in the first place. Good for her! She deserves someone who cares about her and respects her enough not to lie to her about every little thing.

In spite of all this, the book is a great read. You just can’t put it down. And that’s because the plot is damn intriguing. A few characters like the Fool and Kettricken are really well done. Regal also makes for a perfect villain. Petty, devious, and always one step ahead of the bumbling Fitz. Definitely a fun read!

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Comments

  1. “I feared my own kind more than anything the natural world could ever threaten me with”

    It is only Bollywood mentality that can force you to believe that a ‘hero’ (protagonist, rather) is supposed to be someone with the strength of a 100 bulls and the wits of a 1000 dolphins.
    I don’t mean to be racist, but I find your ignorance offensive. Yes fitz is a pathological liar, because he is sworn to secrecy and serves the realm. Even if that weren’t the case which sane woman would have gladly accepted the fact that he is an assassing AND witted, that the intimacy of coupling with her was shared with his wit-beast.

    You fail to understand the depths that have been portrayed in this brilliant piece of work. Fitz had never failed as an assassin, you say he is pathetic, but which mission did he fail? He always did his kings bidding, hence he WAS a royal assassin.

    Now, for the entertainment and thrill you seek, as in a Bollywood movie, if Fitz had used these skills for his own needs, that would just have found his head on a pike.

    Yes he is stupid, but that is because he is a boy! You fail to grasp the realistic elements that this book is based on. Which 13-17 year old has the wits to be on par with Regal, a man brought up by his queen wife to be cunning and cautious.

    As for the king being poisoned, either you are just pretending to have read this book or are a liar yourself.
    The king was being drugged by his half brother Chade , because what ever ailed him pained him so badly that King Shrewd himself requested Chade Fallstar for herbs and smokes that would numb him mentally and physically. When the king does dwindle and die, it is while he is skill linked with Fitz when Fitz finds out that the skill coterie was trying to drain the king of his life. Mind you, through skill and not poison. This enrages him as it would any teenage boy enraged by the loss of his grandfather, his sole protector in the land and hence he goes on a mad rampage killing those responsible, save few.

    Yes Fitz lied to Molly, and yes the book was predictable. But what teenager who cannot accept himself because of the fact that no one had accepted him before, not even burrich who kept him away from the wit, would expect his lover to accept all of his baggage. He could not forsake his life and start a new one with her because he was sworn to his King. There were better ways of handling things, but he was only a boy, don’t tell me you didn’t make mistakes as a teen.

    P.S. I do not intend you any offence. Robin Hobb is the best author I’ve known and insult to the complexity of her characters is hard to digest.
    If all is for naught, let us just agree to have different opinions, because she is not for everyone.

    Reply

    • In reply to Al

      I have no idea what “Bollywood” has to do with this. IMHO, you could have constructed a perfectly fine argument without it.

      Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        I said it because what you sought was the unrealistic ‘heroism’ that they portray in bollywood. In any case, you are free to ignore comments that don’t really matter much compared to the rest of my argument.

        Reply

      • In reply to Al

        But where did you get the idea that I sought that? I merely mentioned that the hero is not powerful – that’s no big deal. Lots of fantasy books have normal protagonists. In fact, I even linked to The Black Company which I loved and which didn’t have a “powerful” hero…

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        “The hero doesn’t get powerful enough to beat up the bad guys. The hero doesn’t always win. In fact, quite the opposite. Fitz is such a pathetic coward that it’s difficult for me to feel any kind of admiration for him.”

        Reply

      • In reply to Al

        I don’t blame Fitz for being human. I blame him for not having any worthy or redeeming qualities whatsoever. He’s a pathological liar, stupid, and pretty cowardly.

        Where do I say that Fitz should be a huge powerful guy?

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Oh. My. God. Okay dude, you win. I’m so sorry I said bollywood has influenced your taste. That was so completely just a petty comeback. Yes, just because of that disregard all the other points I’ve made negating all that you’ve written about Fitz.
        Do read the tawny man trilogy and the two new Fitz and the fool books that Hobb has published, and do crap on those aswell, with the nonexistent amounts of insight you possess.

        Reply

  2. P.P.S. I’m Indian too. So I actually was NOT being racist with the ‘Bollywood’ comments. I just dislike most of the movies they put out.

    Reply