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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

Royal Assassin

Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy and rest of the The Realm of the Elderlings series are very highly rated on Goodreads scoring 4+ average rating for each individual volume. Very few fantasy series can boast this kind of average rating. Ms. Hobb also does a great job of promoting her books by interacting with her readers through social media websites like Reddit. I find her to be friendly and approachable and always happy to recommend books by other authors.

Royal Assassin is the second book of the Farseer Trilogy and follows directly without a pause for breath from [b:Assassin's Apprentice|45107|Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1)|Robin Hobb|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320339497s/45107.jpg|171715]. In this book our hero FitzChivalry finds himself increasingly beleaguered by the evil prince Regal and his henchmen. The entire book is set in Buckkeep the capital of the “Six Duchies” kingdom. Fitz finds love, a new animal soul mate, new allies and further develops his facilities for “Skilling” and “Wit” (magical / psychic abilities). None of these help him to avoid having the stuffing beaten out of him, but at least he manages to get in a couple of good jabs. With this kind of plot heavy adventure tale the less I reveal of the plot the better I believe.

The storyline of this series is refreshingly original in that it does not follow the standard epic quest story arc even though it does follow the development of the protagonist from childhood to adulthood. However, it is not strictly speaking a bildungsroman as it is also a story of court intrigues and a seemingly unwinnable war with mysterious invaders who can convert (“Forge”) normal people into emotionless subhumans. The fantastical elements in this series (so far) is quite subtle, there is no wizard blasting people with wild magic, turning people into newts etc. The magic in this book is more akin to the “psi powers” we see in sci-fi books or superhero comics, telepathy, shared minds, psychic battles and whatnot. There is also the mysterious magic of “Forging”.

Characterization as with the first book is very well done, all the characters are believable. Fitz has a very hard time of it with the odds always stacked against him. As with a lot of fantasy books the colorful supporting characters tend to be more interesting than the protagonist. With this series the most fascinating character is The Fool who is wonderfully enigmatic and eccentric with an idiosyncratic way of speaking. I imagine his dialogue must be quite difficult to write.

Ms. Hobb’s writing is very clean and a pleasure to read. It is difficult to explain the virtues of this kind of writing, the prose style is not highly literary or lyrical, yet it is graceful, and lucid. There is not a word out of place and the whole thing reads very smoothly, no jarring or clunky dialogue to stumble over. This writing style is reminds me of [a:Lois McMaster Bujold|16094|Lois McMaster Bujold|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1377313786p2/16094.jpg], [a:Connie Willis|14032|Connie Willis|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1199238234p2/14032.jpg] whose prose is always a pleasure to read. While the book is quite grim and violent in places I would not rank her among the likes of [a:George R.R. Martin|346732|George R.R. Martin|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1351944410p2/346732.jpg] and [a:Joe Abercrombie|276660|Joe Abercrombie|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1207149426p2/276660.jpg] as a purveyor of “grimdark”, super edgy fantasy novels, the violence is less graphic and there is no sex scenes to speak of. Her plotting, pacing and world building is very skillful and meticulous. She is also very clever with her cliff hanger and I am now very much looking forward to the concluding volume of this trilogy. After that I will no doubt go on to the second, third etc. trilogies of this lengthy The Realm of the Elderlings series. That should keep off the street for a while.