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  • The Farseer: Assassin's Apprentice

  • Written by: Robin Hobb
  • Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
  • Length: 17 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (572 ratings)
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The Farseer: Assassin's Apprentice cover art

The Farseer: Assassin's Apprentice

Written by: Robin Hobb
Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
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Publisher's Summary

With unforgettable characters, a sweeping backdrop, and passionate storytelling, this is a fantasy debut to rival that of Robert Jordan. Filled with adventure and bloodshed, pageantry and piracy, mystery and menace, Assassin's Apprentice is the story of a royal house and the young man who is destined to chart its course through tempests of change. Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal household by his father's gruff stableman. An outcast whose existence has forced his father to abdicate his claim on the throne, Fitz is ignored by all royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in the young man's blood is a heritage of magic, the talent called the Skill, as well as another, even more mysterious ability.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts and leave behind the zombie-like husks of the townspeople to prowl the countryside, Fitz is growing toward manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission, a mission that poses as much a threat to himself as it does for his target---for Fitz is a threat to the throne...but he may also be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

©1999 Robin Hobb (P)2010 Tantor

What the critics say

“Intriguing, controlled, and remarkably assured...at once satisfyingly self-contained yet leaving plenty of scope for future extensions and embellishments.” ( Kirkus)

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What listeners say about The Farseer: Assassin's Apprentice

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    5 out of 5 stars

you really can't judge a book by its cover

... Because the cover is absolutely terrible, but the story within is well paced, handily delivered and totally engrossing. If you are a fan of the 2/3rds finished kingkiller chronicles, then you will love this book AND Robin Hobb is the the Cal Ripken Jr of deadlines.

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11 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

This series just goes on and on and on

This series just takes too long to get anywhere and like a soap opera just rehashes the same dramatic content over and over again. Don't start and look elsewhere for you audio entertainment.

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7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Pretentious

I made it part way into the third chapter and just couldn't any more. The story is mildly interesting but the language is absurdly overblown and also sprinkled with basic errors - in just that short span there were two occasions where the author used "he and I" when it ought to have been "him and me", which might have been acceptable if the tone had been folksy and colloquial, but it was not at all. The reader was no help; he read in an awkward, pompous style with odd, seemingly random overemphasis. He also made what may have been pronunciation errors, or else they were the author's misspellings. Two I recall were saying "reveries" when "revelries" was clearly meant, and saying "bite" instead of "bile". There were others.

I was prepared to put up with a few infelicities of language and was trying to ignore the narrator's eccentricities, but eventually the tedious, meandering style just wore me down. Bor-ing. This is a book for laying down and avoiding.

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6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

terrible narrator

seems like a good book but I just cant listen to this narrator drag out the story.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good, but a bit depressing and slow to start

The first 3 chapters were so slow I almost gave up on the book. Then it picked up and was quite interesting.
Overall a good book, but the bitterness and senseless cruelty of those around the protagonist make it quite depressing to listen to.

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4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

If you liked Name of the Wind

similar concept, I imagine this book helped influence it. I'll be reading the next one.

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4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A good book and a complicated story

This is the first book in a trilogy. I had read the paper book a very long time ago and did not remember the story. I thought the audio would make it easier to get back in. The plot is rather complicated. The main character is a lovable boy who is put into an impossible situation. So it makes it easier for the reader to forgive him for becoming the king's assassin. It looks like even though the master teaching him to use the "Skill" tried to brake him and make him fail, Fitz can use the "Skill" in the end. I suppose the next book will tell us how he used it from then on."
The narrator was very good.

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2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

underwhelmed

Narrator was good. It seems like these books are either something you love, or you just don't. I read the Ranger's apprentice books to my 6 year old son, and this seemed like it was in the same vein. Felt like a YA novel to me. A good one, but I was hoping for a bit more nuance, surprise, complexity, and maturity.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

nope

Did not like the narration. Accent/voice seemed affected. If an rp English accent was wanted, they shouldn't have chosen an American actor to narrate.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Don't Give Up

While reasonably effective at setting up the main plot, the first three chapters in this book are genuinely *tedious*. Fortunately, once Robin Hobb gets developing 'Fitz' - bastard son of a Prince - into a magically-gifted assassin (using what is known as "The Skill"), the worldbuilding, characterization, and plotweaving are revealed as impressive and worth reading. If you can make it through the most boring bits, the book morphs into a thought-provoking cerebral Fantasy Novel.
Hobb's understanding of pacing is deficient - and he isn't good at scripting action - but the political dynamics of "The Six Duchies" are well-conceived and believable, the threat posed by a quasi-Atlantean species known as "The Raiders" attacking coastline villages is interesting & credible, and the coming-of-age/learn-magic character development is capably delivered (albeit nowhere near as good as that of Patrick Rothfuss's 'Kvothe'). This is a slow-starting but imaginative & passably readable book.

Less fortunately, charges from reviewers that the narration is subpar are legitimate. Don't get me wrong.. Paul Boehmer is undeniably professional - exhibiting excellent diction, timbre, cadence, and tone, for example - but he reads too slowly (setting playback speed at 1.15X yields the most comfortable experience) and has an uninspired voice-acting repertoire (characters all sound annoyingly similar with the same somewhat prissy Middlesex accent - Boehmer doesn't even attempt another accent until the final chapters).

Taken altogether, 'The Farseer: Assassin's Apprentice' rates a respectable - if unspectacular - 5.5 stars out of 10. It is certainly worth a try (you could easily fall in love with the writing style and the rich setting), but I personally found the deficiencies outweigh the strengths. I won't be continuing with this particular set of books within Hobb's imaginings. I have heard good things and will likely give the 'Tawny Man' subtrilogy (Books 7-9) a try instead.

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  • Sean
  • 2013-01-07

Not a waste of 83 hours...just the 60 I spent.

I am 3/4 of the way through the 3rd book of this series, and can say one thing with certainty.

Fitz Chivalry is an idiot.

Seriously. I just finished a part in the book where, again, I was yelling at the moron protagonist to get his head out of his backside and see what the heck was going on. There have been at least half a dozen points in this story where I was doing the same thing. But this particular time really has me irritated. It's to the point I can't root for this imbecile any longer. I am a full work week and a half into this story, and I don't know if I can finish it.

The story is told from his perspective. So other than the historical information presented at the beginning of each chapter, Fitz knows everything you know. Yet the most simple deductions regarding several situations he encounters are completely lost to him. Some he figures out in a few 'pages.' Others take him a full book before he puts it together. Long or short, you'll be screaming at him like I do to get a freaking clue.

And this character was trained by the master assassin to observe and deduce? The seven duchies are in a heap of hurt, then.

Or is the idiot in this story Robin Hobb, who can't move the story along without turning his protagonist stupid for a short time in order to create a plot device?

I enjoyed the first book enough to spend a credit on the second. And was interested in the story enough to spend a credit on the third book. But if I had never bothered with this trilogy, that would have been fine.

And I am seriously considering giving up on it now. This latest idiotic move by Fitz hasn't even been 'revealed' for certain yet, but it is painfully obvious to the reader. The fact that it isn't obvious to Fitz just makes me want to give up on him.

Save yourself 83 hours and choose a different book.

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122 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jake
  • 2010-03-16

Great book

I'm going to be suffering from withdraw for the next 2 months while I wait for the next book in this series to come out in audio... I've been looking for a good series to start with this author, but the only one audible has had in the past is the Soldier Son series and by all reports it isn't her best work. After reading this I think it likely I will pick that series up anyway, since even this author's sub-par work is still likely to be quite good.

This book is not heavy on fight scenes, and the main character isn't even that good in a face-to-face fight when it happens. Indeed, for an assassin he manages to kill and wound very few people, and is generally quite nice and likable. The thing that makes this story so excellent is it's world-building and attention to detail, and its ability to build and sustain tension. The plot moves from point to point and as one tension eases, another takes up the slack, drawing you constantly onward and never producing a dull moment. The characters are so well done that I can think of real people who have less personality. I can see how the lack of action might deter some people, but if you enjoy detailed world-building and excellent writing, this is a book you are sure to enjoy.

Another person mentioned the "Night Angel" series, which I have personally read and enjoyed - this however, is the EXACT opposite take on a fantasy assassin series in every way I can think of (and is written far better). Also, I don't know what it is about this reader and assassin books, but he is well suited to it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 2012-04-21

Don't tell my wife

Don't tell my wife, but I have a crush on Robin Hobb. She is by far my favorite fantasy writer. I read this book several years ago and loved it. When Audible put it on sale, I could not resist

This is a coming of age story and a world building book. The book starts when Fitz is only six years old. At the time he has no name. His mother never named the bastard of a royal prince. We are witness to and feel for the main character Fitz, like in most RH books, he is missed understood by almost everyone, but not as misunderstood as he thinks. RH builds characters better then anyone, so if you like character driven stories read any Robin Hobb book. This book also has some good dog characters.

I would suggest though, that you start with the "Liveship Traders" trilogy. It is by far the best, has lots more magic and Dragons. I usually don't care for a whole lot of magic, but no one is as imaginative as RH and the world she builds in Liveship Traders is unmatched.

It would be great if Audible could come out with Robin Hobb's earlier books that she wrote as Megan Lindholm. I would buy all of them Audible.

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74 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • NorEaster
  • 2011-12-27

Great Book

I don't know what to say about this book. It was not fast paced nor very exciting most of the time. The setting was pretty typical of the fantasy genre and the world building wasn't the greatest that I've read. This book feels like a set up to a trilogy where we are learning the background story of a few chars. It's essentially a story about a bastard boy, his mentors, and his dogs.

So why the 5 stars? I just loved this book. I was invested in the chars and cared about what happened to them. The friendships and bonds felt so real. The one downside is the one dimensional aspect of the "evil" characters. I was able to get past this easily, though because the story itself is strong. This is one of the books where you just enjoy the journey the author puts in front of you. I downloaded the second book within seconds of finishing this. Not because of some contrived cliffhanger but because I just couldn't wait to see where the story would take me.

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73 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • chris
  • 2012-12-01

Diary of a Wimpy Assassin

I ended up buying all three books, and I enjoyed them, but it was really hard to like this hero. He is not much of an assassin. The only assassinations he does are by poisoning and those are mostly zombies, and he feels guilty about it. He kills in self defense and feels guilty about it. He doesn't take out the really bad people, even though everyone knows they are the really bad people and he would have saved thousands of lives and endless suffering if he had poisoned them too, because of some promise he made... but mostly because it would end the story too soon.

He has magic ability he doesn't want to use and doubts himself constantly and really hates himself... but ends up saving the kingdom anyway... and gets little credit for it. He spends a large chunk of the third book on a useless quest, and all the while he is thinking (and I was thinking) this is a bad idea. And it was.

Conan he is not. He is more like Conan's half-witted baby sister.

Despite all that, the plot was good, the world was rich, and the narration was very good. There is magic and herbology and animal kinship woven in here. I enjoyed it overall. I just wish the main character had more backbone.

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62 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dr. Rob
  • 2010-08-18

Great...And Can Share it With My Kids

This is an intelligent and engaging book that appeals to the adult fantasy readers/listeners. But as opposed to those like George RR Martin, who have a lot of graphic content not appropriate for kids, this has none of that. I am so glad that Robin Hobb doesn't see that as necessary for a good tale. It is just as good as these others, but without the unnecessary baggage. Highly recommended!

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43 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 2011-12-18

Well written, but too slow for me

You might love this book if you like lots of character development and dialogue. I thought I liked character development, but after this book, I guess I realize that I don't.

This book was well written in my opinion. The story was good and the characters were believable. The world was developed. But for me, there was not enough tension in the plot. The character development was not enough to hold my interest. I was interested enough to keep listening, but I will not get the second book.

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36 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jackson
  • 2017-08-09

Somewhat depressing

This book just felt like it invested far too much time on the main protagonist sulking and feeling sorry for himself. He gets dumped on constantly and seems to accept this as his just reward. I can understand a bit of struggles when it's balanced with something good, but this rarely seems to be the case here. The narration was pretty good though.

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29 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 2013-03-12

Kept waiting for something to happen

Any additional comments?

The story ideas and concepts in the book where interesting and fun, and my imagination started going crazy with possibilities when they were introduced. The author never seemed to bring all the pieces together to make the story engaging enough. Many of the main characters were easy to forget and I felt a sense of relief the book was over instead of a longing to know more about what will happen next in their life.

The reading of the book is very well done. I found the voice, accent, energy, and pacing to be very pleasant.

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25 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • BazaarPatron
  • 2013-06-12

Bland

Overall, I was very much unimpressed by this book, and its sequels.

A friend (ahem, former friend) recommended this trilogy of books as a "great modern, fantasy series." So I'm ashamed to say that I've read the entire trilogy. I was promised each book gets better and better. They did not.

I'll say this for Robin Hobb, she writes beautifully and sets a grand stage.

...in regard to execution, however....

I'm sorry to say that the story is simply bland. We have an assassin, exquisitely trained, with little to lose, who does so very, very little! Virtually nothing!

In addition, you'll be presented with an ever-present storyline where the protagonist and his allies encounter obvious opposition and betrayal from among their own - and do nothing! The story paints the protagonists as perfectly equipped to deal harsh justice to the antagonists, but they do nothing over the course of three books!

'Suspension of disbelief' can only be applied to plot mechanisms, not the human nature of the characters.

I recommend you give this one a pass unless you're stranded on a desert island.

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24 people found this helpful