I read The Farseer Saga years ago and have since considered it one of my favorite fantasy epics. It’s one (along with The Lord of the Rings and Memory, Sorrow and Thorn) that I often suggest to new fantasy readers. But after more than a decade of reading deeper and further into fantasy literature, I’ve often wondered how well this saga would now appeal to my more mature (I hope) palate. When Tantor Audio recently released The Farseer Saga on audio, I was overjoyed and considered this to be my sign that it’s time to re-visit the six duchies.
When Assassin’s Apprentice arrived in the mail, I yanked out the CD that was currently in my computer, tossed it aside (sorry, Ray Bradbury) and stuck in the first Assassin’s Apprentice disc. My lips trembled as I mouthed the name of the narrator: Paul Boehmer… Never heard of him. Is he good enough to portray Fitz, one of my all-time favorite fantasy characters? And… my stomach twisted… will Fitz be the same boy I came to care so much for so many years ago?
Within minutes I was reabsorbed into the world of FitzChivalry Farseer, that insecure, lonely boy who has so much potential but, due to his illegitimate birth and his peculiar abilities with animals, never gets what he deserves. Fitz was just as I remembered and Paul Boehmer portrayed him (and all the other characters) beautifully. (Except that at one point he incorrectly used the word “prisoner” instead of “poisoner.”)
Robin Hobb’s prose was as nice as I remembered, too — straightforward and simple. It never calls attention to itself (and therefore away from the story). Her characters are engaging and nicely portrayed, though a couple of her villains are overdone. Her animal characters are especially notable and, though I’m not a dog lover, I can’t help but be emotionally connected to Fitz’s canine companions. My second read also gave me a greater appreciation for Hobb’s world-building as I encountered tidbits of information that are relevant to her later works (Tawny Man, Liveship Traders, Rain Wilds).
My only disappointment is that I don’t have the next book, Royal Assassin, in my hands yet. I’m not sure why I’m so eager to torture myself again with this story because I know what’s going to happen. Things don’t always go well for Fitz. His story is heart-wrenching, and I know I’ll be emotionally drained after I finish it. But I’m going to love every minute of it.