“Why is it forbidden to write down specific knowledge of the magics? Perhaps because we all fear that such knowledge would fall into the hands of one not worthy to use it.”(Royal Assassin, p. 1)
Happy Sunday, everyone!
I wasn’t actually planning on posting today, but ever since I finished Royal Assassin yesterday, my mind has been brimming with thoughts that I’m just dying to share! So there’s no help for it – you’re getting a spoilery review. 😁
Which is probably long overdue… I absolutely fell in love with the world of the Six Duchies and all the political intrigue surrounding the Farseers when I first read Assassin’s Apprentice back in 2018, and it was only due to my stubborn determination to get matching copies of the rest of the series that I didn’t read Royal Assassin sooner 😅 Seriously, who would have known that the beautiful Assassin’s Apprentice edition I got at a used-bookstore somewhere in Oxford would turn out to be so rare? But book depository finally came through, and even though I probably spent way more money on this series now than would have been necessary, it was worth it! After all, these are books I know I will return to time and time again 😊
Because, yes, I also loved Royal Assassin! I’m so glad I finally read it, because for the most part, the politics, the magic, and the character relationships were just as wonderful as in the first book. The stakes were certainly raised in this one, and since Fitz was older, he was also more actively involved in all the scheming at court, which I really appreciated!
Still, it did take me a while to fully get behind this book – because oh boy, the romance 🙈 While I loved every single other thing about Royal Assassin, I just wasn’t a fan of Fitz’s love story. At all. While Fitz’s interest in Molly was portrayed as innocent boyish admiration in Assassin’s Apprentice, we are suddenly hit over the head with his fanatic obsession just a few pages into book two. Seriously, where did this come from? Fitz’s desperation to go after Molly and win her heart reminded me rather unfavorably of Kvothe’s pursual of Denna in The Name of the Wind 🙄 – even though Molly was, to be fair, a lot less awful than Denna. At least she reciprocated Fitz’s feelings and also thought for herself a little bit…
But still! Why did Molly even like Fitz? The guy never opened up about anything! You seriously expect me to believe she fell for him just because they had a few conversations about dogs and candle-making? That sex and shared childhood experiences would be enough to sustain this relationship? Molly and Fitz never, not once, talked about anything that was worrying them on page, they never confided in each other, and, quite frankly, they never really fell in love either. They went from friends to desperate lovers in the blink of an eye, and I absolutely hated it. Where was that slow burn that I love to read about?
Also, Fitz has got to be the most obtuse boyfriend ever. He thinks Molly left him for some other guy when she was madly in love with him just weeks before?
“It is what I feel for him. He must be first in my life. He needs that from me. Understand this. It is not that I no longer care for you. It is that I cannot put that feeling ahead of what is best for him.”(Royal Assassin, p. 539)
If that’s not Molly’s way of saying “I’m pregnant, you obtuse dummy, and I need to take care of our child far away from the intrigues of Buckkeep,” I’d be extremely surprised. Though I’m actually pretty proud of Molly for walking out on Fitz! That scene might have been the only one between the two of them that I actually liked 😅
However, as awful as the romance between Fitz and Molly was, there was another relationship that more than made up for it: Verity and Kettricken 🥰🥰🥰 Oh my god, guys – they were perfection! Verity caring about Kettricken, but thinking he was too old for her and that she probably didn’t want him? Kettricken quietly enduring her misery and being a bad-ass queen so far away from her home in the mountains? Verity being utterly obtuse to her feelings until he started to see his wife through Fitz’s eyes? Kettricken shaving off her hair when she though Verity had died? I ADORED it! I don’t think I’ve been this invested in a relationship since Vasya and Morozko in The Winternight Trilogy…
And speaking of Verity: I absolutely loved the bond that formed between him and Fitz. Besides it being really cool to finally get to see more of the Skill in action, I also just fell for Verity as a character. The introverted King-in-Waiting, giving everything he has to keep his kingdom safe, even though his subjects don’t know it? The guy so socially awkward that it takes his nephew to finally get him to realize how much his wife cares about him? How could I not fall for him?! He’s awesome, and I’m so relieved he isn’t dead because I want more Verity! And also more Kettricken. Because that girl is seriously cool.
As is Nighteyes. The minute Fitz first freed that wolf cub, I was like “no matter what Burrich says, you’d better bond with him, Fitz.” Because how can you not love Nighteyes? He’s so wonderfully hyper and snarky. He has absolutely no respect for privacy. He’s loyal to the extent that he would be willing to risk his life for his pack. 😍
And that ending! 😭 Please tell me Burrich was the one who explained all of this to Nighteyes, because I would love to have a reluctant Heart of the Pack-Wolf friendship develop in book three. Standoffish Burrich is one of my absolute favorite characters in this series, and it always tears at my heart to see how much he cares but rarely shows it. When he came home to find out he had lost all the animals in his care, when we learnt more about how much he had sacrificed to be Chivalry’s man, when we saw how frantically he tried to revive Fitz from the dead – I may have started sniffling just tiny bit. I love Burrich, and I really hope we’ll eventually figure out more about his past! Why does he hate Wit so much? By now, it’s blatantly obvious that he has it, too, so what happened to make him so afraid of Fitz using it? Does he have some childhood trauma that is going to make me sob my eyes out when I learn about it in Assassin’s Quest? 🤗
Finally, let’s get into the politics a bit, because they are without a doubt one of my favorite things about this series. I don’t know how Robin Hobb does it, because even though we know who the bad guy is, everything is still so suspenseful! As the reader, you kind of feel like Fitz – extremely wary of what Regal is planning, and yet powerless to stop it. Robin Hobb does a masterful job of portraying the complexities of politics: why certain groups would rally behind a person, what goes on behind the scenes that common people don’t see, and how court life is a delicate web that must be maneuvered with caution.
It’s so interesting how everyone at Buckkeep is pretty much aware of Regal’s intentions, but never does anything to interfere, whether it be in the hopes that he will turn over a new leaf, in fear of causing chaos or offending the Inland Duchies, because they actually think Regal has the right idea, or because they feel like it’s not their place to say anything. It’s honestly kind of scary, the way Royal Assassin shows just how far things can go when everyone follows orders without questioning them, just because they don’t feel they have the authority. Especially when you look at Chade. I don’t know how difficult it must have been for our master assassin to go against royal orders to save Fitz, but I think that decision marks a huge turn in his character development. And I am so excited to see how he deals with it! (If he manages to survive, that is. I somehow get the gnawing feeling that Robin Hobb might be planning to kill him off in the next book…)
Also, there were just so many political subtleties I never paid attention to! Like the way Lady Patience actually helped manipulate the court in Fitz’s favor. Or Rosemary! I didn’t see that reveal coming at all, because, quite frankly, just like Fitz, I barely paid her any notice. But looking back, her being a spy makes so much sense, and I absolutely loved the way this twist was done! Also, speaking of twists, wasn’t Lacey attacking Fitz with those needles just the coolest thing ever?
Anyway, I think I’ll leave it at that for now. After all, I really want to start reading Chain of Iron today, so I can’t spend too long on this review 😉 Let’s just say I’m very excited to see what Assassin’s Quest has in store for us! I am beyond curious about the Elderlings, the history of the Red Ships, and, even more importantly, that white ship – I expect a bunch of mind-blowing reveals 🤗
So yeah, that was it for today! Overall, Royal Assassin gets a four-star rating from me, because like I said, everything was perfect apart from that stupid romance 🙄
Do you agree? I would love to hear your thought on this review and on Royal Assassin in general! After all, since this post was filled with spoilers, I sincerely hope you read the book before coming here and have some opinions of your own!
I’ll see you on Friday with my March wrap-up!