Assassin's Apprentice

Author: Hobb, Robin
Hobb is one of the best characterization writers in the Fantasy genre. Her characters are vividly real, leaping out of the pages into our minds as living characters. She has no qualms about allowing her protagonists to suffer and she readily avoids Dues Ex Machina (at the cost of drawing out her stories, which is not a bad thing). Her Farseer books are full of fantastic characters and an interesting, mysterious world to explore. The world occupied by Fitz is arguable almost a character in its own right. You'll come to know The Six Duchies like you do your own living room. You'll hear the cries of fish mongers, smell the dirt and decay, and practically feel the cobble stones beneath your feet as you journey with Fitz Chilvary through this intoxicatingly crafted word.Toss in a gripping plot and fantastic prose and these books make for some glorious reads. The books are also home to the most hated villain ever to grace the pages of fantasy.Hobb's The Farseer trilogy is perhaps her greatest work; she's carried on with the character is two direct sequel trilogies as of 2016 and two tie-in trilogies set in the same world, but with different characters and in different locales. And even now with the fantasy genre being moved in completely new directions with the likes of Martin, Abercrombie, Lynch, Lawrence, and Sanderson, Hobb's works are still worthy to be on anyone's top fantasy book list. She's like that good old fashioned dinner you visit there's nothing particularly new on the menu, but you know what you get and it's always delicious.The Farseer world is vast, spanning over 15 books now. The chronological order goes like this with two of the trilogies TIE-IN series that don't feature the characters in The Farseer.The Farseer Trilogy The Liveship Traders Trilogy (tie in series)The Tawny Man Trilogy (direct sequel trilogy)The Rainwilds Chronicles (tie in series)The Fitz and the Fool Triology (direct sequel trilogy to The Tawny Man)

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Sequel Books by Robin Hobb

It's a no brainier to read her other books set in the same universe: Live Ship Traders trilogy (set in the same world, but with different characters), and Tawny Man trilogy (direct sequel to the Assassin trilogy).  Her newest trilogy Fitz and the Fool, taking place years after the Tawny Man trilogy, with book one released late 2014 (and to awesome reviews). Also try her Soldier's Son Trilogy; it has a feel that's similar to (yet different from) her Farseer series (less well received by fans and reviewers though). 


Guy Gaverial Kay's Tigana. This book is packed with emotion. If you like the emotional intensity and pathos of Hobb, you will love Tigana.

The Tamir Triad

In terms of style of prose and storytelling, the closest you'll find to Hobb is in my opinion Lyn Flewing. You can start off with her Nightrunner series, about a thief type character OR you can read her best work, The Tamir Triad, which is a magnificent trilogy -- completely character driven, horrific, dark and disturbing. And it's a series you can't put down. It brings to mind the Farseer trilogy when you read it -- not in plot, but in the way the story is told, the horrific things that happen, the wonderful writing, and the intense focus on the characters that drive the story forward rather than pure action.

The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind is a good read if you like the compelling characterization of the protagonist. 

The Blood Song

Also read Blood Song by Anthony Ryan's got a first person narration like the Farseer, a coming of age story, and strong characterization. If you like The Name of the Wind and Farseer, I'd be shocked if you didn't love Blood Song.

The Way of Shadows

Also, if you are bedazzled with the Assassin mythos of her world, try reading Brent Weeks The Way of Shadows. Weeks is a new force on the fantasy scene with his Night Angel trilogy. With all the action, magic, and adventure, Weeks is like the John Woo of the fantasy scene, but with a grittier edge. I can't say the books are really "deep" by any means, but if you are looking for a series that's a bit dark with over the top action, magic, romance, and a teen hero full of angst, read it.

The Prince of Thorns

Prince of Thorns is another series that features an assassin protagonist. This is some dark anti-hero fantasy that's written in first person (like Farseer). However, the protagonist does some pretty horrific things to achieve his goals -- unlike Fritz, who for most of the story, acts like everyone's favorite doormat. If you want to read a much darker, amoral and selfish version of Fritz, one who's not afraid to seize what's rightfully his and damn anyone or anything that stands in his way, this might be one to take a good look at. It's some of the best fantasy that has come out recently, and is a must read if you like your fantasy gray and gritty; if not, skip this recommendation.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Try reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K Jemisin. The protagonist is female and it's written in first person with a good amount of emotional weight. There are a few similarities -- both protagonists were related to powerful families and were, for the most part, abandoned by their family line. Both are stories about a rise from obscurity to importance in a place where royal intrigue and power struggles are part of the norm.

Ender's Game

For a non-fantasy book that will have you emotionally involved in the protagonist, you might want to give Ender's Game a read. Being science fiction, there is nothing similar about the plot itself, but it's also a detailed look at the struggle of a young boy who doesn't have a lot of options and who must struggle to survive in an unfriendly world where the odds are stacked against him. A superlative science fiction novel all round.

Curse of Chalion

For an emotionally weighted story about a down-and-out soldier who becomes involved with politics (and saving a young woman who's part of that court), give Lois McMaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion a read. It was a Hugo nominee. The sequel, Paladin of Souls, won a Hugo. Both books are written in a style similar to Hobb's Farseer and the characters are complex and deep -- especially the protagonist. The relationships between characters is also very well done. Well recommended for anyone who likes character-driver fantasy tales.


For less "epic" fantasy recommendations, try Rai-Kirah by Caron Berg which is a very well written character-driven fantasy. 

The Sevenwaters Trilogy

Give the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier a good look. It has some deep characterization of the protagonists and a very strong romantic bent to it (if you liked Hobb's Liveship Traders, then absolutely read this one).

 For another character-driven (kinky) romantic fantasy series, you may also give the Kushiel books by Jaqueline Carey a read.

Tyrants and Kings

For an epic military fantasy with some serious characterization, I recommend John Marco's Tyrants and Kings series. The series is about a man who abandons his kingdom and betrays an empire and turns traitor for the love of a woman who's an enemy of his country. I felt Fitz Chivalry and Marco's protagonist, Richard, had some similarities. Both books are heavy on characterization, politics, and angst.

Second Sons

And for a fantastic low-fantasy series with some of the best characterization I've seen, read Jennifer Fallon's Second Sons trilogy.

Heroes Die

For some of the best fantasy about a badass assassin (not the bitch version of an Assassin that Fitz is), you must read the Heroes Die series by Matthew Stover. Some of the best stuff written in the Fantasy genre, and there are no other books as viscerally action-packed. Caine, the hero, takes violence to a whole new universe. It's not all just violence though. The Caine novels are sharply written and the plot is strong as steel.

Poison Study

For a book with a young, scrappy female protagonist/assassin, you can't do better than Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study.

The Crown Conspiracy

The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan tells a light fantasy adventure tale about a thief falsely accused of being an assassin. It's a much lighter read and the characterization is not as well done, but worth a read if you want an adventure romp involving a pair of irascible rogues.


You may also like Mistborn by Sanderson -- the main character in the first book is sort of like a badass magical assassin/thief/terrorist who kicks ass.

The Book of Jhereg

And finally, read any The Book of Jhereg by Steven Brust. They are a different, but still pretty straightforward pulp fantasy fiction series: there's a ton of humor with a strong anti-hero. Don't expect the level of complexity of some of the other recommendations, but the series is a full adventure to follow.

The Bone Doll's Twin

The Bone Doll's Twin. Dark magic, mystery, coming of age, a kingdom in turmoil and gender issues? Sounds like a hit, and it is. The Bone Doll's Twin is the first book of the Tamir Triad (which is completed) and one of the most underrated fantasy books out there. Strong, compelling characters, a strong plot, and superbly written. The voice and tone of the author are somewhat similar to that of Hobb.

Sword of Shadows

Have a look at Sword of Shadows by J.V. Jones. This is more of a modern sword and sorcery than Farseer, but the characterization is outstanding and both stories involve a coming of age with a young man (eventually) cast out of his home into the greater world and forced to find his place in the world. Both feature male protagonists with unique magical powers. Both characters suffer greatly. The authors of both books are female as well. The only problem is, well, Jones has NOT yet finished the series we are still waiting (it's been almost 5 years since the last book).

Booklists having this book

Top 25 Best Fantasy Books

This is a list of books that are the crème de la crème of the fantasy genre. I've carefully chosen the top 25 fantasy books from hundreds of series and... Read more

Other books by Hobb, Robin

Assassin's Apprentice

How could a story about the apprentice of an assassin not be grimdark? It couldn't, that's how. This first entry sparked off three trilogies about the one protagonist, which contain... Read more

Farseer Trilogy

Robin Hobb has received significant praise for her Realm of the Elderlings world, which spans four series and several other short works. However, among that epic list, The Farseer Trilogy... Read more

Assassin's Quest

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Fool's Errand (the Tawny Man)

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Golden Fool (the Tawny Man)

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Fool's Fate (the Tawny Man)

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Fool's Assassin (the Fitz And The Fool)

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Fool's Quest (the Fitz And The Fool)

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Liveship Traders Trilogy

A nautical fantasy featuring pirates, dragons, and magic? What's not to love? To top it off, Liveship Traders is filled with fantastic women. Ronica, the widow of the liveship's former... Read more

Mad Ship (liveship Traders)

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Assassin's Apprentice

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Ship Of Destiny

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The Dragon Keeper

Hobb’s Farseer trilogy incorporates a dragon theme into the mythos of the world, though dragons are not really a tangible presence in the day-to-day happenings of the book. Her not-quite-a-direct-sequel... Read more

Dragon Haven

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City Of Dragons

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Blood Of Dragons

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Fool's Assassin

This is one of those books you didn't know you needed until you actually start reading it. Kind of like that old friend you don't realize how much you really... Read more

Fool's Quest

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The Farseer Trilogy

One of my favorite fantasy trilogies of all time and one of the best audiobook trilogies.  Youâll fall in love with the characters and their stories thanks to Robin Hobbâs... Read more

Assassin's Fate: Book Iii Of The Fitz And The Fool Trilogy

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The stunning conclusion to Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, which began with Fool’s Assassin and Fool’s Quest“Every new Robin Hobb novel is a... Read more