Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father's gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz's blood runs the magic Skill--and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
I started on Assassin’s Apprentice hoping to take my mind off of the depressing events in Black Powder War, and that maybe I’d even cheer myself up. Uh, no. I now realize that if I wanted to cheer myself up I should have read something like Captain Underpants, not a book about an orphan that nobody wants and who’s trained to be an assassin. Assassins kill people. This means that, duh, this book has death in it. I didn’t want more death! Good gravy. This wasn’t a bad book, by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to read, either. I think that might have affected my reading of it, which I’ll talk more about in a little bit.
One of the best things about Assassin’s Apprentice was how real everything seemed. The characters, the world, the situations and events– everything was detailed and crystal clear and lovely. It’s not colorful, maybe (in fact, when I think about Assassin’s Apprentice I think of grey tones), but it is very real.
The characters were kind of iffy for me; it didn’t seem like there was a lot to redeem their crappy behavior, but I do think Fitz has a chance, at least. I liked him the most, luckily, and a few others were nice to read about as well.
The overall tone of the book was, I think, melancholic and kind of “omg if only I had done this and not that.” Actually, the “omg if only” thing is repeated throughout, many times, and I hate that. I’d prefer some other technique be used to foreshadow events, something that isn’t steeped in…melancholy! It comes off as very whiny, and I tend to get annoyed. But! I did say that I was already feeling somewhat depressed because of the numerous deaths and other sad events in Black Powder War, so that might have affected my interpretation of Assassin’s Apprentice‘s tone. (Does anyone else thing it’s melancholy, or is it just me?)
On the other hand, I know that not everything can be fluffy bunnies and daisies, and so I understand that melancholy and woe-is-me can be a big part of life. And so though I wasn’t cheered I wasn’t necessarily flung deeper into depression, either. The bad things were just matter-of-fact, and I appreciated that. It made it easier to read about.
I enjoyed reading Assassin’s Apprentice immensely, though it was a bit ouch because bad things happen, and good things are tainted by further bad things. I’m going to have to take a big break before tackling the next book in the series, but I’ll get there eventually.
Read: April 2009