Four StarsBottom Line:
If you like fantasy you'll probably like this. It's an easy world to get lost in.
A Little Deeper:
I think some people will feel that this story starts off slowly and builds slowly then sprints to the end over the last 10-15% of the book and I think those people will be the ones for whom the plot is everything. If you're like me and care about characters more than the plot I don't think you'll have that problem. I cared about what Fitz was doing so it didn't really matter if he was mucking stables or walking on the beach with his kinda maybe might be girlfriend even though neither of those particularly advanced the plot much.
If you're plot centric and aren't hooked by the first chapter or two then give it a pass because the first two thirds or so of the book is more of the same.
The premise is a little cliched. Fitz is the bastard son of the heir apparent and his life sucks, lol boo hoo. But he'd be an interesting guy if he weren't the bastard son of a lord and his bastardy just serves to put him where the action is and prejudice people for and against him...so it works.
The magic here is interesting. I wouldn't say there is a lot of magic involved but that's somewhat disingenuous. Our Hero has a certain innate magical talent of communicating with animals not just in the sense of making them understand his speech or understanding theirs but as a sort of mind link between him and them. It comes so naturally to him as a child that he doesn't even understand that he's doing anything.
And then what serves as a father figure forbids him from doing it at all.
And later he tries to learn a type of magic that may or may not be different and he struggles. At one point he uses his connection to animals to help with that struggle but it doesn't really end well. We are later told that his teacher is somewhat less than sophisticated in his teaching methods and that Our Hero has more skill than the teacher was able to nurture. And yet, at the end of the story we're not entirely clear how much skill in magic he actually has.
As with many stories with child protagonists, this is in large part a story about a kid finding out who he is and where he fits (ha, I slay me) in the world. As such it is a little disappointing that he spend so much time simply going where he's told and doing what he is told without taking much if any control over what he is to become. That changes in the Big Climactic Thing At The End which bodes well for the next volume in the trilogy.