Was it like this, I wonder, when I first read Harry Potter? I like to think so, although back then I suppose I was more interested in devouring the books than in paying attention to what I felt about them. The complete involvement with the story, blind love and affection for the characters – well, some of them – and their well being, the fate of the world residing in those pages. There are books that you love and enjoy reading and then there are books that you form a bond with, books you keep coming back to, books you know you will carry with you forever.
I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Assassin’s Apprentice had this coming of age quality to it but in a more royal fashion, so to speak. What struck me strongly here is how important it is to have the right mentors or people to guide you from an early age. With Burrich (my absolutely favorite person second only to Fitz. And Smithy. And Nosy. ), Chade (he’s okay, I guess. Creeps me out, the Pocked Man.) Verity (another favorite) and Chivalry (through constant tales of his legendary chivalry and honor), Fitz has had a lot of people teaching him, helping him, shaping him, whether he knew it or not. Each of these men have so many different things to teach him and through it all I couldn’t help thinking that they are unknowingly training to bastard to be King. I know not what fate befalls Fitz in the rest of the books but while I read about all those sessions with Chade and Burrich, this is what I thought.
This was not entirely a happy tale though. There was much loneliness, fear, insecurity, uncertainty to be had and all of it centered in a little boy’s heart. How I longed to comfort him, how I wished to drive away his loneliness. Barely six years old and thrust into a world barely ready for him. I am a cat person. It’s not that I don’t like dogs, I just prefer cats. Ah, but the warm friendship and undying, unflinching support and love that the multitude of dogs have displayed here is very hard to ignore and steel my feline heart against. I wept with joy and with sadness when anything happened to them. For the puppies. Who knew? And I wept more than once during the entirety of the book.
There is a wholesomeness to the story and that is one of the major reasons why I loved it so much. By wholesomeness I mean attention not just to details but description of things that makes a story or a particular scene more realistic. Like all those scenes where Fitz would unerringly find his way to the kitchens in search of food. The warm comfort offered by the keep’s kitchen at all time, the company of easy folk, the simple acts of caring for and taking responsibility for your hounds and horses.
I thought all of the characters were splendidly done. I liked them all, villains and everything. Why would you despise a perfectly selfish, cunningly evil villain? Or even a stupid one. If they weren’t around the heroes would spend much of the book in their cups, being disrespectful to the court ladies the entire time. That didn’t stop me from chewing through my fingernails during the last 100 pages or so while my mind was screaming the whole time, ‘Do not die on me! Don’t die, you bastard!’. Literally and figuratively.
I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone who loves fantasy but hasn’t read it.