If you like the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce (actually any of Tamora Pierce’s early works), this series may be for you. Also, if you enjoy yelling at characters for making stupid decisions… that will happen a lot in this series.
The Farseer Trilogy is a great entry series into fantasy or for longtime fans of the genre. It is coming of age story following Fitz, the illegitimate son of the King-in-Waiting, as he learns to navigate the complicated social protocols associated with having royal blood. It is a familiar trope for those familiar with the fantasy genre, but provides a great easing in experience for those who want to begin reading fantasy. The Assassin’s Apprentice begins with Fitz being dropped off by an unnamed relative into Prince Verity’s care, The King-in-Waiting’s brother. Fitz is placed in the care of Burrich, the stable master, until he begins an apprenticeship to become the royal assassin. Fitz’s relationship with Burrich is at the heart of this series and it is wonderful watching their relationship change as Fitz grows up and takes on more responsibilities.
The narrative is from Fitz’s perspective which allows the reader to be introduced to the magic and political system at a simplistic level. As Fitz grows older, his understanding of the magic systems of his world become more complex. However, he always seems to believe he is smarter than those around him when it comes to magical abilities. Spoiler alert- he’s not, but isn’t that what being a teenager is about? We have been inundated with stories placing teenage protagonists at the centre of stories hinging on their decision-making abilities to change the world. As someone who is not too far away from her teenage years, I cringe at decisions I made even a few years ago, but you know what? I thought I was making the correct decisions at the time based on my life experience and understanding of the world. Fitz operates in the exact same way. He thinks he knows the rules to games he is playing, but he is playing checkers while everyone around him is playing chess. While it is a frustrating reading experience to see beyond Fitz’s limited perspective, it is a relatable and believable point of view.
One of the strongest parts of this series is a diverse cast of female characters, each with different strengths and weaknesses within their social circles. It is refreshing to read a fantasy series where the female characters are not subject to trauma to show character development or growth. Kettriken and Patience became fast favourites of mine for their resourcefulness and ability to do what needed to be done. However, I was dissapointed in Fitz’s love interest. She has little to no growth over the course of the series and remains flat, more of a caricature than an actual character.
Overall, this is a great entry to the fantasy genre for new readers and offers some different perspectives on longstanding tropes inherent in fantasy. I rooted for characters, I despised characters and I was devastated by the heartbreaking conclusion to this series.