I think doing a convention in one day was a really smart move. I got a bit of exposure, sold a few books, and got to see people, then got a day to recover before facing the week, so it ended up being almost energizing instead of draining. Normally, the Monday after a convention is a waste for me, but I might get some work done, and I’m motivated to get work done. It’s supposed to be a rainy week, so that bodes well — unless I don’t want to do anything but read, which is what cold, rainy days do to me.
My most recent reading was Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb. I keep seeing her name on lists of fantasy you should read, and somehow I missed reading her, which is a shame because this book was right up my alley. It’s a “traditional” fantasy, but very character-focused, so it’s intimate rather than epic. I imagine the scope will grow through the rest of the series, as the character gets caught up in greater events, but we’ll still mostly see how it affects him. It’s primarily about this person, not about masses of faceless armies or about a dozen people spread around the globe (one of my issues with a lot of epic fantasy — I’m here for the characters, not for the pieces being moved around the chessboard). This first book is largely a set-up book, introducing the character of Fitz as a child, taking him through his various kinds of training, and eventually bringing him into the big-picture affairs of his kingdom. He’s a bastard born to the heir to the throne who gets taken in by the king and trained into service as an assassin for the king. But there are those within the court who see him as a threat to their own ambitions, so his position is rather precarious.
You really feel for the guy. He’s a great viewpoint character/narrator. He fits into that category of good people who aren’t boring. He’s got an affinity for animals, a lot of compassion and empathy, some smarts, and great courage to stand up and do the right thing, no matter the cost. We see his struggles to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is on the level.
I also enjoy the worldbuilding. I don’t know how intentional it is, but I get a sense of a Nordic tone in this world. I’ve been reading a bit about Scandinavia lately, and the role of the king among the mountain people in this book sounds a bit like it could be based on the modern attitude about royalty in Scandinavia. Meanwhile, the enemy sounds a bit like evil Vikings. Or maybe I’m just seeing it all through that lens because I just watched a series of travel videos about Scandinavia and mapped that imagery and attitude onto the book.
Anyway, my local library branch has the sequel, and I’m off to pick it up today. I started reading the other book I had handy once I finished this one, and I couldn’t quite get into it, as all I could think about was what happens next to this character.