Before I start, let me be upfront – here be spoilers for Fool’s Assassin and the other books in the Realm of the Elderlings cycle. If you have not read these, enter at your own risk.
Having just reread my way through much of the Realm of the Elderlings, I was very familiar with Hobbs’ style. It was therefore neither a shock nor a disappointment that this book typified her sllooooooooooowww worldbuilding and character development in the first book in a series. I was expecting it, so was able to enjoy the quieter, gentler character moments. Typically, Hobbs’ books become more action focussed and less character driven the further on in a series you go.
For this series, Hobb has added a second PoV character in addition to Fitz; we hear from young Bee Badgerlock, Fitz’s daughter and I really enjoyed her point of view. It’s pretty certain she is a White Prophet like the Fool, so I really look forward to hearing how she deals with this burden.
We are also introduced to the main antagonists of the series – the Servants of the Archives of the White Prophets. They seem really nasty pieces of work given what they did to the Fool.
The major driving force of this novel is the revelation that the Fool has a son! Yes, that did rather blow my mind. Many people seem to believe that this Unexpected Son is Bee, with a similar gender confusion as with the Fool. A lot has been made of the night the Fool and Fitz spent on Aslevjal back in Fool’s Fate when they were more physically intimate than mere travellers huddling together for warmth. I believe Hobb has mentioned that in her world genetic influences can be passed on much more easily than in ours, so it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think that some of the Fool is in Bee as well. In a sense she could be the Fool’s daughter. Personally, I believe that there are two separate people – White Prophet Bee and Catalyst Unexpected Son. The message sent by the Fool to Fitz speaks of a son “left along the way” and that he doesn’t know who mothered him. That clearly is not the case for Bee. I have my suspicions about Perseverance…
What I liked
The dual PoVs. I enjoyed Bee’s point of view and look forward to seeing how it progresses.
Some lovely character development. The poignancy of Fitz’s staying young while Molly ages was beautifully done. His despair at her apparent delusional state was touching. Now, I was never really on board the Fitz/Molly ship, but their relationship was wonderfully written. I also enjoyed how Fitz had to reevaluate his relationship with Bee once he realises that she is not developmentally stunted as he had thought.
Wolf-Father – hello Nighteyes :O)
The setup. Clearly this book concentrated on setting the groundwork for the rest of the series. I believe there are a lot of interesting hooks for the next books. I look forward to reading more.
What I didn’t like
Fitz and the Fool not interacting until the very end of the book. I really love that relationship and I wasn’t happy that I had to wait so long to see them reunited.
I gave Fool’s Assassin four stars out of five. When’s the next book out?!?