Hobb hit bulls’-eyes with the Farseer Assassins trilogy, which ended with the enthralling Assassin’s Quest (1997). Now she launches that series’ hero, FitzChivalry Farseer, into a new trilogy. At 35, bearded, retired for 15 years, and living under an assumed name in the country, Fitz remains bothered by his Skill, mental powers that allow telepathy and coercion, and his Wit, a “dirty magic” that allows mental ties with beasts, including his wolf companion Nighteyes. Chade Fallstar, the top assassin who taught Fitz his poisons and killing craft, seeks him out and says that the young Prince Dutiful, Fitz’s unacknowledged child by blood, needs his training in magic. But Fitz holds back, lusting to return to the Mountains and the godlike race of Elderlings. Still on hand: minstrel Starling Birdsong, who cares for Hap, Fitz’s roaming boy. Then Prince Dutiful vanishes, and Fitz’s new quest begins. And though he will find the Prince, uncertainty still rules their destinies. As the Fool warns, all life is a battle against Farseer Fate.
Once again, smoothly done with rounded characters in words as plain as bread.