Another recently discovered fantasy series that I missed on first release, the Farseer Trilogy was published in the mid-90s. This is epic fantasy, with kings and queens, magic and intrigue. The series follows the life of FitzChivalry Farseer, illegitimate son of the King-in-Waiting of the Six-Duchies. He is dumped at the castle by his maternal grandfather and is given into the care of his father's servant, Burrich. In the first book of the trilogy, we see Fitz grow from a small boy to a trained killer in service of his king and grandfather. Not all are happy to have Fitz at court, and his life is a dangerous one. In addition to this the land is under attack from raiders across the sea. The raiders take people as well as food and wealth. The fight against the raiders is a major part of the story and they are a formidable enemy. We're kept in suspense as to what they do to their prisoners right to the end of the final book and the reveal is worth the wait.
The three books are:
As well as Fitz's personal story, there's the story of the Six-Duchies itself. The books are told in the first person and at the beginning of each chapter there's a small section that Fitz is writing on the history of the land and people. This serves as a clever exposition tool, introducing places, people and mythology without bogging down the story.
I really enjoyed these books although I did start reading the third before the second, which caused quite a bit of confusion. Towards the end I just couldn't put it down and had to find out what happened. I must say, the ending did manage to take me somewhat by surprise.
My favourite character by far was the Fool. I loved him, particularly in the later books. I shared his frustration with Fitz when he didn't understand what he was being told and didn't make the links that I had already made. A really well written character.
I did find the timeline difficult to follow. I had no idea how old Fitz was in the second and third books. He is described as being a young man in an old man's body, but I got very little sense of how much time was passing.
There are similarities to other epic fantasy series' but the books don't come across as derivative at all.
Hobb has written other books set in the same world and with the same characters and I look forward to finding out what happened to Fitz once the Red Ship Wars ended. Unfortunately, that will have to wait as the new Sookie Stackhouse book is out this week!