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. (Goodreads)
My Rating: 5/5
This book was a lot darker than I thought it would be! By that I mean the reader is rarely given a break from heartbreak and/or sorrow. It’s an incredible first entry to a trilogy.
FitzChivalry (Fitz) is a wonderful character. We begin the book when he is six years old, where he is given, by his paternal grandfather, away to his father’s men as they can’t afford to look after him anymore. There is a lot in this book about Fitz not feeling a sense of belonging – he feels lost and is trying to find a place for himself in this world. Perhaps that is why he agrees to become the assassin’s apprentice.
The plot of the book is not what I was expecting. I was expecting Arthurian-style fantasy, with swords and battles and assassins everywhere. It was nothing like that. This is a beautifully crafted novel with a plot that drags Fitz along with it. This works in this book – rather than being character-driven – as it mirrors Fitz’s inability to control what happens to him. It adds to his vulnerability. I hope to see, in future books, Fitz grow and begin to drive the story himself.
The cast of characters is brilliant. Shrewd, Verity, and Regal are all very odd family members, all with motivations and quirks of their own. Chade is the assassin you would expect, if a little more secretive. Galen is terrifying. Burrich is one of my favourites. There are many more, and they all feel real through Fitz’s eyes.
The magic system is a little confusing, but that’s because no one wants to talk about one side of it much, if at all! The Skill is used to share thoughts and strength with others, and The Wit allows telepathy with animals. The Wit is distrusted which I found interesting – I want to know the history behind that distrust, and I hope we will find out eventually.
Overall, I really loved this book and I wish I’d gotten to it sooner!