Assassin's Apprentice: Illustrated Edition Review

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This will be a short review since I'm not actually going to talk about the story itself, instead I'm going to talk about the quality of a recent hardback edition which comes complete with illustrations by Magali Villeneuve within its covers.

First a little story, see way back when "I was a lad", as the saying goes, one of my very first experiences of fantasy was The Hobbit, Illustrated edition by Michael Hague. A story which captivated, but which also caught my eye because it had pictures; wonderful colourful illustrations of the various characters, places and a certain, very spikey, dragon. It cemented in my mind that illustration was hand in hand part of fantasy novels. You can guess at my slight disappointment that once you leave behind the mammoth that is Tolkien, the number of illustrated novels is rather thin. Indeed those few that do sometimes come around are often limited editions, folios or otherwise quickly priced so high as to be out of reach to simple mortal fans.

So when I spotted these books back in march I was very interested. Here was one of my favourite authors getting the illustrated treatment, and at a price and edition format that was for the masses! The artist is also well known to many (if not by name then by reputation and their art), Magali Villeneuve has worked for Wizards of the Coast in Magic the Gathering, with GRRM on works for Game of Thrones and many many more.


The book features a nice textured cover with a nice coppery gold inlay pattern on the front. Opening up gives you a lovely two page spread map of the Six Duchies. This is also repeated at the very end of the book as well. Being that its within the opening and ending covers this makes it effortless to open all the way to really see it edge to edge, no missing detail as you near middle.

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From there we get our first illustration on the next page and a wonderful choice by the editor is to have each picture framed within the page. This means that the art itself is fully and easily visible without having to fight with spine. There is nothing vanishing into the middle of the book (which can sadly so often happen with so many illustrated editions and art books). The paper for the prints is firm and clean, the prints are vibrant and rich with colour. Each one is a treat to come across as you read.

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Now I've only included one of the prints from the book above so as not to spoil the whole experience, however if you want you can find all the illustrations (from all 3 books in the series) on the artists website. I've linked below to the first of the three books:




In closing I would say if you're a fan of Robin Hobb's stories of the Six Duchies and of Fitz and the Fool then this is a real treat to have. I'm happily already looking to purchase the others in the series in the hope that my small contribution will join with others to encourage the author and illustrator (and of course the publisher) to do more of these. Perhaps we might be on the tip of a huge revolution in illustrated editions.

I think my only real critique is that its a shame a few pages were not set aside to provide the art from the various front covers that the series has had thus far, though I appreciate that sometimes such things are harder to setup in practice being as they might have different types of contract and also might have more than one artist to negotiate with.
 

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