Fool’s Assassin is Book I in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, a continuation of the story of Fitz as told in the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies.
Full disclosure: Robin Hobb is my favorite author. This is a significant statement for me. I am the sort of person who does not have favorites. When someone asks me what my favorite X might be, I immediately start equivocating with phrases like, “it depends” and “in certain circumstances.”
But Robin Hobb is my favorite author. Full stop. I find her books rich and rewarding. She strikes a masterful balance between plot and world building and character-driven storytelling. The most common criticism I find about her work is that it is “slow.” I can only assume the people who say this are stimulation junkies who read for very different reasons than I do.
When I read Hobb’s books, I want to dwell in the story forever. Fool’s Assassin was no exception. As usual, she writes characters that are so well-developed and fabulously flawed and fleshed out that you have arguments in your head with them when you have to take a break from reading for a shower. Another of my favorite things about Hobb’s work is that she always surprises you. Despite having read every single book she’s written set in this world, I didn’t anticipate where this story would pick up or what would happen. I certainly didn’t foresee any of the major events that took place. Like with most of her books, I finished this one feeling fabulously maddened by the characters and only wanting more.
To be fair, I came to this book with some audio related frustrations. The original reader of first Farseer Trilogy was wonderful. I loved those books. All the character voices were spot on. The reader disappeared into the story. In the Tawny Man Trilogy, we got a new reader. That reader took a very, very different approach to how he read for certain characters. Worst of all, names of both characters and countries were pronounced differently. This should not happen! I am honestly completely floored that such a major audio production could be so sloppy. Even when my own Tessili Academy got an audiobook, my reader asked for a pronunciation guide.
Although that transition was very jarring, I eventually adjusted. So when I downloaded Fool’s Assassin on Audible, I thought I was prepared for anything. But I was wrong. This audio manages to reach a new low. Once again, names and countries are pronounced in entirely new ways that are consistent with neither previous reader. Major central characters suddenly acquire thick foreign accents for no discernible reason. Other characters seem to be read entirely with a clenched jaw, which is unbelievably distracting.
If the book wasn’t so good, the audio would make it into a disaster
As it stands, I will stick with listening to this trilogy because I love Robin Hobb and the world she built and her excellent writing can transcend even the worst reader. I just wish her producers could have put even a sliver of the care into the audio that she puts into her writing.
Read it if you’ve enjoyed the previous books in this series and are up for more exploration of the Farseer world.
Skip it if you aren’t interested in world building and character development. Also consider reading instead of listening.