Assassin’s Fate is the Definitive Ending You’ve Been Waiting For
I’m suffering from the mother of all book hangovers, and Robin Hobb is to blame. Assassin’s Fate is here to destroy your ability to read another book for months.
A lot of people say they grew up with Harry Potter. I get to say that I grew up with FitzChivalry Farseer, and it’s made me every bit as snooty as that sounds.
We were boys together, when Fitz first met the Fool and Nighteyes. We shared our first rocky relationships. When Hobb came back to Fitz for a second trilogy, we were both grown ups, seeing the world with matured eyes.
Fool’s Fate felt like it wanted to be the ending for the series, but there was something missing. We weren’t quite there yet. Hobb must have agreed. After leaving The Realm of the Elderlings to write The Soldier Son Trilogy, she returned to write seven more novels.
After more than twenty years and seventeen books since we met Fitz, I can say that we have finally reached a solid conclusion.
I wouldn’t dare rob anyone the experience of this novel with spoilers, so I won’t go into specific plot details. What I will say, however, is if you’ve skipped The Liveship Traders or The Rain Wild Chronicles (what in the world is wrong with you?), you should absolutely hold off on this book until you’ve read them. If it’s been a long time since you’ve read these books, consider a brief re-read to reacquaint yourself.
As expected from Hobb, the characters in Assassin’s Fate are agonizingly believable. They charge off in the wrong direction because they have inaccurate information. They make reckless decisions. They are too cautious. Characters cross-over and finally meet, only to not get along as you expected them to. You love them both, why won’t they just like each other!
Bee’s journey both strengthens her character, and damages her irreparably. As hopeless as her situation is, she proves to be fierce and well capable of taking care of herself. This comes at the cost of her ability to trust. It’s heart wrenching to see a child become so suspicious of kindness, so bitter, and so reserved. At times it was frustrating, and tiresome. But it was a product of her experience, and no one can rightfully blame her for it.
In a similar fashion, Fitz and the Fool find that their relationship has changed. Fitz feels used, and cannot forgive Fool for abandoning him at the end of Fool’s Fate. Fool will never be the same since his torture in Clerres. His antics and sharp wit are gone. All he can focus on is regaining Bee and taking his revenge on Clerres. They are in agreement in their goals, but at odds in every other respect.
All you want is for everyone to get along, but Hobb refuses to shoehorn her characters for the sake of convenience or fan service. As frustrating as that can be, it’s what makes them so real. So human. They are difficult, and stubborn, but their reasonings are 100% sound.
Everyone knows Robin Hobb is the Queen of Character, but her unsung talent is in her ability to evoke nostalgia. Descriptions of simple things like food, candles, hunting, clothes, even paper and ink had me longing for simpler days in Withywoods or Buckkeep. I felt travel weary, and just wanted to curl up in a fur blanket by a fire – things I have never done before. I wanted beef stew and baked bread. I wanted to listen to Patience and Lacey bicker while they threaded needle. I wanted to see Fitz run through the forest with his wolf, and the Fool flip and juggle at court. She deftly uses this ability to rekindle memories of books read long ago, and drive the nail in as the story comes full circle.
Characters from each series return, not as cameos, but to play pivotal roles in the ending of this tale. Turns out: Assassin’s Fate isn’t just the ending of a trilogy. This is the definitive ending for the series, including our friends from Bingtown, Trehaug, and Kelsingra. Hobb meticulously laid the groundwork for this climax throughout the five series, and they all come to head here. There are no deus ex machinas, or surprises that come from nowhere. The pieces were there the whole time, in this trilogy or that one. Hobb pieces them together so swiftly you’re left wondering if you were supposed to know all along.
By the end of this book, nearly every character has reached some amount of closure. There are more questions answered than not, and those still unanswered are probably better left that way.
My honest, bittersweet hope is that Hobb leaves the Realm of the Elderlings series from here and moves on. Assassin’s Fate satisfied every curiosity and desire I had in an ending for these tales. The final pages are so poetic in their beauty, I can’t imagine that even Hobb could follow it up with anything better. It’s absolutely perfect.
When I drowsily closed the book and returned to my world, I thought I would be fine. But when I stood up, sobs overcame me the moment I hit my feet. I had to sit back down and let it wash over me. The cats stared at me. I didn’t care.
The 20-year, seventeen book journey is over. And it was worth every page, penny, and tear.
- Characters are on point.
- Satisfying and emotional conclusion to the 17 book series.
- You will cry.
- You will cry.
- It is a journey book, so the pace can be a bit plodding at times. You will grow impatient.
- The dark void in your soul when you realize it is over and you cannot read anything else for a month.