This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Long ago, Fitz and the Fool changed the world, bringing back the magic of dragons and securing both the Farseer succession and the stability of the kingdom. Or so they thought. But now the Fool is near death, maimed by mysterious pale-skinned figures whose plans for world domination hinge upon the powers the Fool may share with Fitz’s own daughter.
Distracted by the Fool’s perilous health, and swept up against his will in the intrigues of the royal court, Fitz lets down his guard . . . and in a horrible instant, his world is undone and his beloved daughter stolen away by those who would use her as they had once sought to use the Fool—as a weapon.
But FitzChivalry Farseer is not without weapons of his own. An ancient magic still lives in his veins. And though he may have let his skills as royal assassin diminish over the years, such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten.
Now enemies and friends alike are about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose.”
There’s no “middle book in a trilogy” lag in this one. But then, with Hobb’s books, there never is. She has a wonderful ability to keep the tension and the action high, even during story sections that might be considered as set-up or part of the transition to a later part. Every book has its own momentum, no matter where it falls in the plotline.
I’ve been in love with these characters from their first appearance on the shelves, and it really is the characters that drive the story. Yes, there is plenty of action, and yes, there is plenty of plot to help move the tale along, but the heart of this world is Fitz, the Fool, and their friends. These are real people, with real feelings and motivations–or so the author makes you believe. I’ve never known any other fictional characters whom I regard with so much affection and interest. I have come back again and again to see what happens to them.
There are so many changes that overtake these beloved characters that I can’t really talk about it without spoiling things. Suffice to say, there are a lot of things from previous books that have repercussions in this book. The newer characters, like Fitz’s daughter Bee, fit seamlessly into this massive overarching tale, and I can’t wait to see how things play out in the final book.
This is one of those novels where my reaction can best be summed up as a lot of Muppet-flailing, but not a lot of coherent analysis. It’s not often that I just want to babble excitedly about a book, but this is one of those times. Ms. Hobb, if you’re reading this, please take it as a compliment that I can’t form sentences well after reading your books. Readers, if you haven’t read Hobb’s books yet, please rectify this lack in your life immediately.