I swear, I have had this book in my room for about five years now and I only just got around to reading it. I've heard a lot of good things about Robin Hobb's books, and I've started this book at least seven times, each time stopping before the second chapter. Let's be honest, it starts out rather dry. Actually, it's incredibly dry at the beginning. So, it is a little difficult to get into, especially when she decides to spend entire chapters on the day-to-day schedule of a six year old bastard's life. I was not a huge fan of how the book started out, as it was confusing and hard to follow because it was a bit too descriptive, it went a bit too far. However, after the first few chapters, the story begins to pick up and got a whole lot better. The story in a whole was really quite good. The story of a prince's bastard who is handed about as a child and finally comes under the care of his father's stablemaster. The boy, called nothing more than boy, or Fitz which literally means bastard to them - has talent with dogs and horses and stays with the stablemaster, Burrich, for quite some time. Until he is taken up to the Keep to live with the rest of nobility. There he is trained by Chade, an enigmatic assassin who works for the King. Ensuring that the king will have a tool in Fitz, and not something that could interfere with the line of the throne. When the kingdom is attacked by raiders with eery powers, Fitz is sent off to his gruesome work. Earning himself enemies in high places along the way.The story was excellent, at times though, it was hard to become attached to the characters. I loved Fitz and his character, but because he was so detached from everyone else, it was hard to like many of the other characters. The characters in this story are not very dynamic. They all fit their preconceived places and never venture out any farther. I was never surprised by the characters. I was surprised by the plot twists, but not the characters that caused them. Though, the Fool is the one character that doesn't seem to fit his mold. All the others work the way their characters are supposed too, however the Fool is one that is confusing and surprising. I did like him a lot. However, I was told by a friend that this was the driest of the three books in the trilogy. And it was not bad, by far, it just was not particularly outstanding. However, i was informed that the second two are fairly outstanding, so of course i am going to read them. I doubt that it will take me four years either as i understand and love the characters now. I really enjoyed it in the end. The story became very fast paced and i found myself unable to put the book down. However, it does have it's notable flaws that are difficult to ignore, such as the fact that the beginning is hard to get through.