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Assassin's Fate
by Robin Hobb
Del Rey, $32.00, 847 pp
Published: May 2017

FitzChivalry and the Fool – what a complex tale theirs has been.  They have ranged across their world, in and out of magic, from living hand-to-mouth in primitive circumstances to living a life of luxury and privilege in a castle.  The two of them have been driven by their training and what they saw as their mission in life; and yet, at the end, they leave all that and finally follow their hearts.

It would take too many words to try and summarize all that has gone before and if you’ve been keeping up with the series it would be boring.  If you are new, this is no place to start.  Go back to the beginning and I assure you the experience will be worth it.  This series has so much to recommend it.  It has terribly flawed characters: conflicted heroes, self-righteous prophets, noble stableboys, deadly female spies and assassins, horrible villains and unusual dragons.  There are small stories within the plot and grand visions for a world that suffered a world-changing catastrophe that no one really remembers.  The author left fascinating breadcrumbs all along the stories to explain the catastrophe which is finally brought to light in this last novel. All is resolved – and I do mean all plot threads from all sixteen books.

Fitz and the Fool, now known as Lady Amber, are convinced their daughter, Bee, is dead and gone – lost in a Skill-portal.  Their only remaining goal in life is vengeance on those who took her and lost her.  The Fool has no prophecies to fulfill and Fitz feels he has nothing left to live for…so, vengeance it is.  However, Fitz continues to cling to the idea that he is the best man for the job and needs no assistance – even though his decades add up to more than six now.  The Fool and others who have attachments to Fitz, Bee or the Fool disagree.  Fitz spends much time trying to disengage from their unwanted support for his mission, in the belief that they would be much endangered.  It takes him quite a while to realize that not only does he really need the help, but he has no right to deny them their own vengeance.  This conflict between him and the Fool send them both careening down separate paths only to find the paths converge. 

The author pulls together all the characters from her three intertwined series; brings clarity to their motivations and gives the reader satisfying resolutions.  I hesitate to specify any more detail as there would be major spoilers.  But I can promise you that Paragon gets what he wants although his family suffers mightily; the Dragon Keepers are a bit in the background but do find friendship and salvation from the Six Duchies, the Skill-portals are a little better understood, lots of people die, and the Dragons just might find they have a different relationship with humans because of Lady Amber’s actions.

I desperately want to find time to re-read them all.  I anticipate a deeper appreciation of the author’s plotting – knowing what is to come.  This is one of the very best epic fantasies that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. ~~ Catherine Book

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