The bastard sons of kings play a noble role in fantasy: not only were King Arthur and Modred by-blows, but it is often suggested that Merlin himself came to power from the ``wrong side of the bed.'' While Hobb's offering has a few too many illegitimate heirs backstabbing around, this is still a delightful take on the powers and politics behind the throne. Fitz, who is often called the ``Boy'' or the ``Bastard,'' was begotten by good Prince Chivalry upon some ``peasant'' woman. At age six, he is given over to the safekeeping of the prince's man, Burrich. Fitz's impolitic existence causes the prince to abdicate his claim to the throne, and he and his wife leave the court, and the boy, behind. Fitz has inherited the ``Skill,'' a mind-bending talent, and also has the ability to meld his thoughts with those of nonhuman creatures and to mentally ``repel'' physical advances. When Fitz finally comes to King Shrewd's attention, he is given over to the Royal Assassin's tutelage and trained to carry out the king's devious plans. The novel's conceit-that it offers Fitz's memoirs from childhood through adolescence-allows for several sequels. A gleaming debut in the crowded field of epic fantasies and Arthurian romances. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995 Release date: 04/01/1995 Genre: Fiction
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