25 Years of Spectra: ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE (1995) by Robin Hobb

 

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Fifteen years ago, one of the great fantasy series was born, starting with Assassin’s Apprentice. With this novel, Robin Hobb entered the public consciousness as one of the premier fantasy writers of our time.
And yet, it almost didn’t happen. At least, it almost didn’t happen for “Robin.”
Curious? Then read what the author has to say about writing this book.


On the 13th day of July in 1993, I signed a rather nebulous contract with Bantam Books to write a trilogy. Book one had the working title Chivalry’s Bastard. Megan Lindholm agreed to write three books about this fellow, each about 125,000 words. The description of the trilogy that Bantam was agreeing to buy was as follows:
” . . . a sophisticated fantasy trilogy incorporating the archetypes of the genre (e.g, magic, evil villains and a young hero named Fitz who is the bastard son of a prince). In Book #1, Fitz is sent on a quest to bring a princess back to the Mountain Kingdom. The plot lines for Books #2 and #3 shall be determined well in advance of the scheduled delivery date for that Book.”


I signed that contract as Megan Lindholm.
By the time Assassin’s Apprentice was published, not only the book but the author had undergone a name change. The author name blazoned on the incredibly good Michael Whalen cover was Robin Hobb. Fitz would do quite a bit more in that first book than simply brink Kettricken back from the Mountain Kingdom. He would acquire a mentor, a mysterious scarred fellow named Chade, a gruff guardian, the Stable-Master Burrich and a very peculiar and pale best friend, known only as The Fool. The opposing but complementary magics, the Skill and the Wit, would be introduced. And many, many wheels would be set in motion.
At the time I signed the contract, I didn’t know that I would spend the next decade of my life in that world, and that a good part of it would be spent with Fitz and the Fool. A second trilogy would follow The Farseers. The Liveship Traders Trilogy would launch with Ship of Magic. And then, despite my certainty at the end of Assassin’s Quest that I had finished with Fitz and his fellows, a third trilogy that took up the adventures of Fitz and the Fool, The Tawny Man, would begin with Fool’s Errand. I had no idea that this would be the book that would change my life and my fortune. Bantam Spectra, thanks for taking a chance on me and that hastily sketched character FitzChivalry Farseer. Happy Twenty-Fifth Anniversary!


–Megan and Robin

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