Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb is a low fantasy novel, the first in what is called The Farseer Trilogy. It's the story of a prince's bastard son who is dropped at his king's doorstep when he's six years old. He goes on to learn how to fight with a staff, care for animals, behave in polite society, read & write, mix and make various herbal remedies... oh yeah, and how to be an assassin.
Each of the skills he learns is taught seperately and as he gets good at one, just before he's REALLY good at it, something happens to take him elsewhere to learn another skill. The book is tantalizing that way in that as it builds to a crecendo it never actually gets to it. It just builds and builds until the end. Each level of tension however seems to start over at a baseline level of tension. It doesn't build from a 1 to a 5 and then start at 5 and then go to 8 and then start at 8. It seems more like a saw tooth shape. Up to 5 then back down to 1, maybe 2. Over and over again.
I described it as tantalizing but it was a little frustrating too. That's why I'm not in a big hurry to read books 2 & 3. It wasn't so much a roller coaster ride of emotions like some can be as much as it was a see saw ride. UP... DOWN.... over and over again, and it was predictable. You could tell by what the level of tension was and his skill level at whatever skill he was learning how much longer until he trotted off to do another one.
I can't say it was a bad book. I DID read through it pretty quickly and wanted to know how it ended. But I don't care enough to feel a sense of urgency to get the next two. The end of the book, the last chapter or so was very rushed feeling and instead of feeling tension it was spent with the protagonist mostly unconscious and things happening around him being told to him by others or in a dream. It felt like a cheat at the end, which was too bad.