The Farseer Trilogy
The Farseer family rules the Six Duchies as they have for many generations but dire times are at hand. The Red Ships are raiding the coastal cities and King Shrewd's health is failing. He has many sons so the line of succession is well defined and with the King in poor health Prince Verity does the majority of the ruling. Of course that doesn't sit well with Prince Regal, a selfish and cruel individual who is the son furthest down the line of succession and unhappy with his station. Sound familiar?
It is certainly a familiar plot line in many Fantasy stories but Robin Hobb offers you the chance to experience it all from the perspective of a young boy, who at the start of the series, does not even know his own name. This boy is thrust into the middle of war, intrigue, and politics and finds himself a key player in the struggle for power in the Six Duchies. Unfortunately for him, his life is directed down a path that is dictated by others every step of the way and he is ill prepared to do much about it. This is how he comes to find himself as the apprentice to the court assassin and in a line of work that is not a good fit for his inherently peaceful nature.
The reader learns about the world as the boy does including the magical abilities known as the Skill and the Wit. The Skill allows individuals to share thoughts and strength over vast distances and the Wit allows people to share their minds and thoughts with animals. For me it was the concept of Wit-bonds that are formed between people and animals that got me emotionally invested in Robin Hobb's world and her characters. This made it very easy for me to align with the main character and I enjoyed learning about the world from his perspective.
Any reader who has a fondness for animals will also find it easy to align with the main character and also easy to hate Prince Regal. He is a cruel, unbalanced individual that grows to be a cancer for the SIx Duchies and it is easy to root for him to fail as much as you root for the main character to succeed. From time to time I see discussions amongst fans of Fantasy literature talking about the most evil villain in books they have read and Prince Regal will always be mentioned in any such discussion.
The Farseer Trilogy starts with Assassin's Apprentice, which is a rather complete story and can be read as a standalone book if desired. Though if you move beyond book one then expect to read both Royal Assassin and Assassin's Quest because the ending of the second book is thoroughly unsatisfying and it takes book 3 to wrap it all up in a satisfying way. This is also one of many series by Robin Hobb that all take place in the same world, the Realm of the Elderlings, and this is definitely where you want to start.
Paul Boehmer does a fine job as the narrator of the audiobooks and he also narrates another series about a young assassin, the Night Angel series by Brent Weeks. The two series are very different, but both are enjoyable in their own right.