Royal Assassin (Farseer Series #2)

Royal Assassin (Farseer Series #2)

by Robin Hobb

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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“Fantasy as it ought to be written . . . Robin Hobb’s books are diamonds in a sea of zircons.”—George R. R. Martin 

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.
Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.
Praise for Robin Hobb and Royal Assassin
“[Robin] Hobb continues to revitalize a genre that often seems all too generic, making it new in ways that range from the subtle to the shocking.”Locus
“[Royal Assassin] reaches astonishing new heights. . . . The Farseer saga is destined for greatness—a must-read for every devotee of epic fantasy.”Sense of Wonder

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553573411
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/1997
Series: Farseer Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 35,014
Product dimensions: 4.15(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.11(d)

About the Author

Robin Hobb is the author of the Farseer Trilogy, the Liveship Traders Trilogy, the Tawny Man Trilogy, the Soldier Son Trilogy, and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. She has also written as Megan Lindholm. She is a native of Washington State.

Read an Excerpt

Prologue: Dreams and Awakenings

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. Certainly there has always been a system of apprenticeship to ensure that specific knowledge of magic is passed only to those trained and judged worthy of such knowledge. While this seems a laudable attempt to protect us from unworthy practitioners of arcane lore, it ignores the fact that the magics are not derived from this specific knowledge. The predilection for a certain type of magic is either inborn or lacking. For instance, the ability for the magics known as the Skill is tied closely to blood relationship to the royal Farseer line, though it may also occur as a 'wild strain' amongst folk whose ancestors came from both the Inland tribes and the Outislanders. One trained in the Skill is able to reach out to another's mind, no matter how distant, and know what he is thinking. Those who are strongly Skilled can influence that thinking, or have converse with that person. For the conducting of a battle, or the gathering of information, it is a most useful tool.

Folklore tells of an even older magic, much despised now, known as the Wit. Few will admit a talent for this magic, hence it is always said to be the province of the folk in the next valley or the ones who live on the other side of the far ridge. I suspect it was once the natural magic of those who lived on the land as hunters rather than as settled folk; a magic for those who felt kinship with the wild beasts of the woods. The Wit, it is said, gave one the ability to speak the tongues of the beasts. It was also warned that those who practiced the Wit too long or too well became whatever beast they had bonded to. But this may be only legend.

There are the Hedge magics, though I have never been able to determine the source of this name. These are magics both verified and suspect, including palm reading, water gazing, the interpretation of crystal reflections, and a host of other magics that attempt to predict the future. In a separate unnamed category are the magics that cause physical effects, such as invisibility, levitation, giving motion or life to inanimate objects--all the magics of the old legends, from the Flying Chair of the Widow's Son to the North Wind's magic tablecloth. I know of no people who claim these magics as their own. They seem to be solely the stuff of legend, ascribed to folk living in ancient times or distant places, or beings of mythical or near mythical reputation: dragons, giants, the Elderlings, the Others, pecksies.

I pause to clean my pen. My writing wanders from spidery to blobbish on this poor paper. But I will not use good parchment for these words; not yet. I am not sure they should be written. I ask myself, why put this to paper at all? Will not this knowledge be passed down by word of mouth to those who are worthy? Perhaps. But perhaps not. What we take for granted now, the knowing of these things, may be a wonder and a mystery someday to our descendants.

There is very little in any of the libraries on magic. I work laboriously, tracing a thread of knowledge through a patchwork quilt of information. I find scattered references, passing allusions, but that is all. I have gathered it, over these last few years, and stored it in my head, always intending to commit my knowledge to paper. I will put down what I know from my own experience, as well as what I have ferreted out. To perhaps provide answers for some other poor fool, in times to come, who might find himself as battered by the warring of the magics within him as I have been.

But when I sit down to the task, I hesitate. Who am I to set my will against the wisdom of those who have gone before me? Shall I set down in plain lettering the methods by which a Wit gifted one can expand her range, or can bond a creature to himself? Shall I detail the training one must undergo before being recognized as a Skilled one? The Hedge wizardries and legendary magics have never been mine. Have I any right to dig out their secrets and pin them to paper like so many butterflies or leaves collected for study?

I try to consider what one might do with such knowledge, unjustly gained. It leads me to consider what this knowledge has gained for me. Power, wealth, the love of a woman? I mock myself. Neither the Skill nor the Wit has ever offered any such to me. Or if they did, I had not the sense nor ambition to seize them when offered.

Power. I do not think I ever wanted it for its own sake. I thirsted for it, sometimes, when I was ground down, or when those close to me suffered beneath ones who abused their powers. Wealth. I never really considered it. From the moment that I, his bastard grandson, pledged myself to King Shrewd, he always saw that all my needs were fulfilled. I had plenty to eat, more education than I sometimes cared for, clothes both simple and those annoyingly fashionable, and often enough a coin or two of my own to spend. Growing up in Buckkeep, that was wealth enough and more than most boys in Buckkeep Town could claim. Love? Well. My horse Sooty was fond enough of me, in her own placid way. I had the true hearted loyalty of a hound named Nosy, and that took him to his grave. I was given the fiercest of loves by a terrier pup, and it was likewise the death of him. I wince to think of the price willingly paid for loving me.

Always I have possessed the loneliness of one raised amidst intrigues and clustering secrets, the isolation of a boy who can not trust the completeness of his heart to anyone. I could not go to Fedwren, the court Scribe who praised me for my neat lettering and well inked illustrations, and confide that I was already apprenticed to the Royal Assassin, and thus could not follow his writing trade. Nor could I divulge to Chade, my master in the Diplomacy of the Knife, the frustrating brutality I endured trying to learn the ways of the Skill from Galen the Skill Master. And to no one did I dare speak openly of my emerging proclivity for the Wit, the ancient beast magic, said to be a perversion and a taint to any who used it.

Not even to Molly.

Molly was that most cherished of items: a genuine refuge. She had absolutely nothing to do with my day to day life. It was not just that she was female, though that was mystery enough to me. I was raised almost entirely in the company of men, bereft not only of my natural mother and father, but of any blood relations that would openly acknowledge me. As a child, my care was entrusted to Burrich, the gruff Stablemaster who had once been my father's right hand man. The stable hands and the guards were my daily companions. Then as now, there were women in the guard companies, though not so many then as now. But like their male comrades, they had duties to perform, and lives and families of their own when they were not on watch. I could not claim their time. I had no mother, nor sisters or aunts of my own. There were no women who offered me the special tenderness said to be the province of women.

None save Molly.

She was but a year or two older than myself, and growing the same way a sprig of greenery forces its way up through a gap in the cobblestones. Neither her father's near constant drunkenness and frequent brutality nor the grinding chores of a child trying to maintain the pretense of both home and family business could crush her. When I first met her, she was as wild and wary as a fox cub. Molly NoseBleed she was called among the street children. She often bore the marks of the beatings her father gave her. Despite his cruelty, she cared for him. I never understood that. He would grumble and berate her even as she tottered him home after one of his binges and put him to bed. And when he awoke, he never had any remorse for his drunkenness and harsh words. There were only more criticisms: Why hadn't the chandlery been swept and fresh strewing herbs put on the floor? Why hadn't she tended the bee hives, when they were nearly out of honey to sell? Why had she let the fire go out under the tallow pot? I was mute witness more times than I care to remember.

But through it all, Molly grew. She flowered, one sudden summer, into a young woman who left me in awe of her capable ways and womanly charms. For her part, she seemed totally unaware of how her eyes could meet mine and turn my tongue to leather in my mouth. No magic I possessed, no Skill, no Wit, was proof against the accidental touch of her hand against mine, nor could defend me against the awkwardness that overwhelmed me at the quirk of her smile.

Should I catalog her hair flowing with the wind, or detail how the color of her eyes shifted from dark amber to rich brown depending on her mood and the color of her gown? I would catch a glimpse of her scarlet skirts and red shawl amongst the market throng, and suddenly be aware of no one else. These are magics I witnessed, and though I might set them down on paper, no other could ever work them with such skill.

How did I court her? With a boy's clumsy gallantries, gaping after her like a simpleton watching the whirling discs of a juggler. She knew I loved her before I did. And she let me court her, although I was a few years younger than she, and not one of the town boys and possessed of small prospects as far as she knew. She thought I was the scribe's errand boy, a part time helper in the stables, a Keep runner. She never suspected I was the Bastard, the unacknowledged son that had toppled Prince Chivalry from his place in the line of succession. That alone was a big enough secret. Of my magics and my other profession, she knew nothing. Maybe that was why I could love her.

It was certainly why I lost her.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Another spellbinding installment, built of patient detail, believable characters, and mature plotting." —-Kirkus

Customer Reviews

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Royal Assassin (Farseer Series #2) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 264 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i'm usually very picky about what i read and not much of a book worm but this book is just amazing. Once you pick it up it's hard to put down and i think it's even better than the first book. The way the author writes makes you feel like you're part of the story. Robin Hobb is truly amazing. I think five stars is not enough for this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book in the wonderful and enthralling Farseer trilogy! Robin Hobb creates a brilliantly dark and wild tale of treachery, adventure, and utter sorrow. The world she spins around you will have you seething with rage when Fitz does, and feeling light-headed when you pull your head out the mystical waters of the Farseer world. Although this trilogy is marketed as an adults series, I'm thirteen and it is my favorite fantasy series, so if you are looking to buy this for your teen, buy it (there's no graphic sex or anything, and there isn't any horribly disturbing violence)! You will not regret it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Frickin awsome story
geokatgrl More than 1 year ago
The progression of Fitz's life gets more complex, with even more rollercoaster rides of emotions. The first book was awesome, and this only adds to it. Hard to put down!
angelTX More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. The characters are great. You really get to love Fritz and feel sorry for him! It has great adventure and its just really easy to imagine while your reading.
epow50 More than 1 year ago
I am just finishing Golden Fool from The Tawny Man series. I absolutely loved both The Farseer and Tawny Man series. I have only one book left to read and will be sad to end the saga of FitzChivalry. I might just have to read it all again soon.
Rich_A More than 1 year ago
Wow! How to summarize the amazing ride you'll be taken on in the Farseer trilogy. First off, don't expect a lightweight ride through the fantasy clichés as with other authors. Hobb treats her main character Fitz like a well-used hammer -- flinging him around and not getting too upset with a few nicks and marks. If you can make it through the first volume in the trilogy, this book picks up where it leaves off and continues the complex and emotional roller-coaster ride. There is so much to enjoy about Hobb's work, especially her wonderful skills as a story-teller. Just expect to endure some pain as a reader as the main character is buffeted and clanged around through the story. The only criticism I had for these books were the horrible cover art. I really thought they not only looked dumb but really missed the mark when it came to portraying the mood and emotional impact of the stories. They make these books look cheap and cliché which is a big shame for those who, in fact, judge books by their cover. Highly recommended read! I can't wait to finish Fitz's tale in the next trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How much better it could have been! The writing is really quite good, the characters empathetic, the general plot structure almost not obvious. But it fails majorly in the details - the foreshadowing is horrendous, the consistency almost completely lacking, the bad guys unbelivable, ... the little things that elevate a good book to the great are so absent that it's barely good.The story picks up where the previous volumne left off, and it would be wise to read Assassin's Apprentice first for little retelling is given. Fitz, bastard, Chivalry trained assassin to King Shrewd (yes the names start to grate after a while. Does the kingdom have nothing better to do than give people who appear important in the story (excepting burich) character defining names, whilst those who only appear briefly only get normal ones?) had accompained the royal party to the neighbouring Mountain Kingdom (yep original name there too), where he became embroiled and attacked in the youngest Prince's (Regal) scheme to rise to Kingship. Fitz recover slowly and painfully, until he's needed when suddenly almost overnight he is clear of mind and whole of body, occasionally in a quiet moment when it's convenient, suffering extremely mind reminders of his former illness. If only all heros could recover so quickly. The Red Raiders attacks on the kingdom continue and the good Prince Verity needs Fitz' assistance. And there's a girl, and a wolf, and Prince Regal continues his evil plotting. Poor old Fitz is quite torn in where to place his loyalty, and as matters come to a head he is increasingly required to choose for himself, withou guidance from his elders and betters, which leads to the dramatic finale.It really is all quite good, there are twists and turns and the pace of action keeps up with Fitz's problems and information. But there are also way too many issues. Skilling either takes a while with Fitz staring into space, or is over "in the blink of an eye" depending on the need of the story, which is very poorly thought out. The King is or isn't lucid again depending on the infomation being presented to him. many other peopel change their mind or opinion on a whim. Even deeply held convictions are suddenly overturned with no more anguish than a 'oh well, I suppose it's ok' And worst of all much of the plot is obvious. Guessable way in adavance. What is supposed to be surprising twists, become oh look that foreshadowing has come to pass. It's quite hard to explain just how much these minor details, each in their own way insignificant, combine to majorly distract the reader from enjoying the story. Readable, and if anyting lightly better than the original, it's disappointing to find it could be much better...........................................................................
littlegeek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
About a third of the way through this book I had an epiphany--there are werewolves and zombies in this book! It's obvious, but the way they are portrayed is so unique, I didn't even think of it that way until half way through the trilogy. The end of this book is chilling. This is the way to do a trilogy: each book has a beginning, middle and end, with a cliffhanger, and yet there's a satisfying stopping point that still eggs you on to the next book. How does she do that?
willowcove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This entire trilogy is a very good read.
eddy79 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even better than the first volume, Hobb really puts Fitz through the wringer here, both physically and emotionally. She expands on the world created in the first volume, in geography, politics and the magic system.
rbtwinky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic book with a terrible ending! Hobb builds up all of this tension and opportunity and then destroys it all with the ending! This is seeming to be a pattern with Hobb. I have so far only read this book and its predecessor, Assassin's Apprentice, but each time the ending seemly erradicated everything that proceeded it.What's great about this book are the characters and the politics! Fitz is coming into his own and starting to have an effect on his life and the lives of those around him. The characters around him change from the guiding forces that they were in the first book to challenges for Fitz to confront or lratn to accept. I'll read the next, but Hobb is threatening to alienate me as a reader...
Merneith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This one drags a bit but the series as a whole is worth your time.
mentatjack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm relearning the lesson that a great fantasy series can be quite adictive. I love the play between the Skill and the Wit and the intrigue of the royal family. Full of unforgettable characters, this series just keeps getting better.
xicanti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I honestly think I could've just sat and read this book straight through, if I'd had the chance. I didn't willingly take a break until I was about five hundred pages in, and even then it was a short one.I found Royal Assassin even more absorbing than Assassin's Apprentice. The character development continues as Fitz returns to Buckkeep and assumes a more active role in the country's defense. My one complaint with the first book was that I didn't get enough of a sense of the danger that threatened the Six Duchies. That was no longer a problem with this book. As the Red-Ship Raiders became a larger concern for Fitz, they became a larger concern for me. I felt the characters' frustration as they struggled to keep their people safe.And, once again, it's really the characters that make this book. Robin Hobb's characterization is excellent; everyone has depth. Even their minor conflicts feel important because they come across as real issues that these people struggle with. I found it very easy to get lost in the story; I was always eager, (and sometimes desperate), to see how things would turn out for the characters I'd come to care for.At more than two hundred pages longer than the previous volume, this is a big book. It flies by, though; despite the wealth of detail, I didn't feel that it lagged at all until right near the end. And even then, it's difficult to say whether the momentum diminished because of the writing or my own horror at what was happening.I highly recommend both this and the previous volume. They're excellent, character-driven fantasy that works. I'm only sorry I didn't dive into Robin Hobb sooner.
TerrapinJetta on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bits of this are quite good, but it's depressingly like any other fantasy book. It's quite readable all the same mind you, I was just expecting something more. A lot of the characterisation is quite deft.
Amaunette on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fitz's story continues as King Verity takes a wife and attempts to battle the zombie-like plague.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second instalment in the series and it opens with Fitz seriously debiliitated by a poison he has taken. I've been there, my poison was chemotherapy and it was pretty much like it was described in the book. Fitz is now fighting Regal more openly with the red ships preying on the kingdom. Full of interesting characters and interesting situations although it's a big book it's a quick read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was pretty disappointed in this book as it was basically 650 pages of a few people knowing what the issue was but refusing to do anything about it and a few others steadfastly refusing to believe it could happen...until of course it happens. It got to the point that by the end of the book, I was hoping the bad guy wins because our hero had proven himself totally inept!
PollyBennett More than 1 year ago
Amazing, spellbinding, tragic and epic. What a series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A slow tedious read featuring a pathetic protagonist who spends far to much time letting the antagonists dominate his very existence. I had hoped after the first book that the story line might improve. It didn't. I'm 460 pages into the book (yawn) and as I get into each new chapter, check to see how many pages are left, hoping the next chapter may be better. Usually it's just more of the same. I'll be moving on to a new author now. There is no chance I'll be reading the next book in the trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago