Assassin's Apprentice starts a bit slow, but then it gets really good. It has everything! Court intrigue! Assassins! Communicating with animals!
It really does have a lot of things that you like. Books 2 & 3 are a bit of a slog; however, Hobb wrote a trilogy, which takes place years after the events in the Assassin's Apprentice series called the Tawny Man trilogy, which is supposed to be fantastic (don't read anything about the Tawny Man trilogy, because it will spoil you for Assassin's Apprentice).
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