This is the first book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy. This follows the Farseer series. FitzChivalry, the royal bastard/assassin is living the life of mellow, Tom Badgerlock. That life of indolence changes dramatically as he is pulled back into the court intrigues and the prophecies of the Fool.
Mz. Hobb seems to specialize in self doubt. Her characters seem to revel in questioning their own values. My previous life as a guidance counselor was often spent in trying to get young people to develop self esteem. Tom certainly could have used some counseling. The references to his torture in previous books leads one to believe that the physical abuse is what initiated the self doubt. If recollection serves me, FitzChivalry had a lot of self doubt in the Farseer series as well.
Bee, the surprise daughter, exhibits what I would consider normal self concern from a child. She may have gifts from her father's heritage that are so far unexplored.
The wallowing introspection occasionally gets tedious but overall the pace is satisfactory. Ms. Hobb develops her characters meticulously. They are full fleshed and as real as fiction can be.
I enjoyed the book and will wait quite impatiently for the second in the series.
This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.