“Very little worth knowing is taught by fear.”
Fitz is a bastard. Born to the son and heir of King Shrewd and who is redeliverd to his father at the age of six when his maternal grandfather decides he no longer wants the responsibility. But upon learning of the existence of his son, Prince Chivalry steps down from his position as King in waiting, leaving the boy under the tutelage of his stable hand Burrich and bails. So Fitz grows up as the thorn in the side of almost the entire Kingdom who blame him for the loss of their great shiny king that never would be, and he’s pretty much left to his own devices to run around with peasant children and the pets that he learns he has an uncanny ability to communicate with, until the King decides to train him up as his own personal assassin. Meanwhile the Kingdom itself is under threat from nautical raiders who have the ability to turn capture and change villagers into soulless marauders released back into their communities to unleash chaos, and is threatened from within, by the dysfunctional dynamics of the sons of the king and their followers who seek to manipulate and assassinate their way into power.
Everything that makes a fantasty epic is contained in this book. There is magic, but the cerebral, conceivable, well thought out kind that’s specific and doesn’t just pop up to make the plot more interesting or to solve a problem when the author has written themselves into a corner. There is an epic landscape set in a believable world filled with distinct and well rounded races of people. There is danger and peril and betrayal and mystery and quests, all of which are written in the most engaging prose, and knowing that this one is just the first of many books set within this world us just so exciting. The only drawback for me was the pacing. It’s a really chunky book and it doesn’t rush itself at all, which is great in terms of world building and character development but because of the size of the book, I had to read it in bits and pieces while I read other things, and this made me lose the connection to the story and have to reread a lot of it to remind myself of all of the details. But other than that it was perfect, there are so many more aspects of the world that were hinted at that I can’t wait to read about. If you love Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones then you would love this, because if those two books had a baby, this would be it. Bring on the Live Ships!