Tag Archives: robin hobb

fool’s fate

Fool’s Fate (Tawny Man Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

The triumphant conclusion to the Tawny Man trilogy, from the author of the bestselling Farseer and Liveship Traders trilogies. The moving end to the tale of the Farseers, in which kingdoms must stand or fall on the beat of a dragon’s wings, or a Fool’s heart. A small and sadly untried coterie – the old assassin Chade, the serving-boy Thick, Prince Dutiful, and his reluctant Skillmaster, Fitz – sail towards the distant island of Aslevjal. There they must fulfil the Narcheska’s challenge to her betrothed: to lay the head of the dragon Icefyre, whom legends tell is buried there deep beneath the ice, upon her hearth. Only with the completion of this quest can the marriage proceed, and the resulting alliance signal an end to war between the two kingdoms. It is not a happy ship: tensions between the folk of the Six Duchies and their traditional enemies, the Outislanders, lie just beneath the surface. Thick is constantly ill, and his random but powerful Skilling has taken on a dark and menacing tone, while Chade’s fascination with the Skill is growing to the point of obsession. Having ensured that his beloved friend the Fool is safely left behind in Buckkeep, Fitz is guilt-stricken; but he is determined to keep his fate at bay, since prophecy foretells the Fool’s death if he ever sets foot on the isle of the black dragon. But as their ship draws in towards Aslevjal a lone figure awaits them…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Robin Hobb is without a doubt one of the very best fantasy fiction authors that I have read. The fantasy world that she has created is outstanding and the stories that she has created are simply wonderful to read. She builds the stories around a small number of central characters but creates detailed supporting characters that manage to bring depth and understanding without the reader getting lost in the detail.

Over three series she has also managed to create three separate but interlinked stories and bring them all together in this final book to a hugely enjoyable conclusion. There is a huge amount of sadness throughout this final book. Fitz definitely does not have an easy life nor does he make it any easier for himself. There is a lot of loss and strife for him in this final installment but there is also a very emotional and satisfying conclusion. It is one of the very few endings that provoked a genuine emotional response from me. That is incredibly difficult to do with a book and shows Robb’s skill in creating a character that you really get to know and become attached to.

The book finishes as an end. It feels like the author intended to leave the story here but there are two further series that I haven’t read and have seen mixed reviews on. With such a perfect conclusion to this story I’m in two minds whether to carry on or just leave it here. We’ll see…..

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the golden fool

The Golden Fool (Tawny Man Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

Prince Dutiful has been rescued from his Piebald kidnappers and the court has resumed its normal rhythms. But for FitzChivalry Farseer, a return to isolation is impossible. Though gutted by the loss of his wolf bondmate, Nighteyes, Fitz must take up residence at Buckkeep and resume his tasks as Chade’s apprentice assassin. Posing as Tom Badgerlock, bodyguard to Lord Golden, FitzChivalry becomes the eyes and ears behind the walls. And with his old mentor failing visibly, Fitz is forced to take on more burdens as he attempts to guide a kingdom straying closer to civil strife each day.

The problems are legion. Prince Dutiful’s betrothal to the Narcheska Elliania of the Out Islands is fraught with tension, and the Narcheska herself appears to be hiding an array of secrets. Then, amid Piebald threats and the increasing persecution of the Witted, FitzChivalry must ensure that no one betrays the Prince’s secret—a secret that could topple the Farseer throne: that he, like Fitz, possesses the dread “beast magic.”

Meanwhile, FitzChivalry must impart to the Prince his limited knowledge of the Skill: the hereditary and addictive magic of the Farseers. In the process, they discover within Buckkeep one who has a wild and powerful talent for it, and whose enmity for Fitz may have disastrous consequences for all.

Only Fitz’s enduring friendship with the Fool brings him any solace. But even that is shattered when unexpected visitors from Bingtown reveal devastating secrets from the Fool’s past. Now, bereft of support and adrift in intrigue, Fitz’s biggest challenge may be simply to survive the inescapable and violent path that fate has laid out for him.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In some ways Fitz is still the same stubborn and headstrong youth even 20 years on. His situation in life and his dedication and duty to the throne put stresses and demands on him that make a normal life incredibly difficult. Despite this he tries to do the best for those around him and those he feels that he has a duty to but can’t help but screw it up through a mixture of pig headed stubbornness and attempting to protect others close to him. How many times can one man come so close to death?

There is a lot of sadness in this book for Fitz but the author’s style keeps it from being depressing. She brings you into Fitz’s life and makes you want him to win and succeed. His relationship with Starling, Hap, Jinna and to some extent Chade is hard to read but it’s the deterioration of his core friendship with the Fool that is the saddest by far.

This is setting the series up for the 3rd and final installment so you are left at the end with many unanswered questions and unfinished storylines but it just makes you want to go straight to the next rather than leaving you empty.

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fool’s errand

Fool’s Errand (Tawny Man #1) by Robin Hobb.

From Goodreads:

Fifteen years have passed since the end of the Red Ship War with the terrifying Outislanders. Since then, Fitz has wandered the world accompanied only by his wolf and Wit-partner, Nighteyes, finally settling in a tiny cottage as remote from Buckkeep and the Farseers as possible.

But lately the world has come crashing in again. The Witted are being persecuted because of their magical bonds with animals; and young Prince Dutiful has gone missing just before his crucial diplomatic wedding to an Outislander princess. Fitz’s assignment to fetch Dutiful back in time for the ceremony seems very much like a fool’s errand, but the dangers ahead could signal the end of the Farseer reign.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a fantastic return to Fitz’s story. The Farseer Trilogy, while very good, suffered at times from an overly complicated story that was far too wide ranging. This books strips away the complications and distills it down to a much simpler story.

Much of the book is given over to reacquainting us with Fitz’s life and what has happened to him in the 15 years since we last saw him. During this time he has travelled far and wide, has spent time with folk of the Old Blood and has cemented his relationship with Nighteyes. He has cut himself off from the political world of the Six Duchies but still stays connected via his Skill knowledge of Burrich, Molly and Nettle and his infrequent visits from Starling.

I found it very poignant that while his relationship with Nighteyes pretty much completed the two it was only when the Fool returned that they were truly “Pack” once more. There was a very subtle suggestion that they almost met in Bingtown with Fool in his Amber persona that was cleverly woven into his story of their travels but not picked up on any further.

Three things made this book for me:

  • the focus on Wit magic or Old Blood. This is a much more understandable and easily related type of magic than the Skill. It’s almost believable from a modern point of view. We all know someone that seems to have a special relationship with animals. In this book the author delves much more into the details of the Wit, explains how it works and develops the relationship between Fitz and Nighteyes, sometimes with difficult and heart breaking developments.
  • the Fool is given centre stage. His previous Farseer character was a clever subterfuge to hide his true importance but he was a difficult friend for Fitz to have. In this book he and Fitz are given time together to be themselves and to show their true friendship together. The time at the cabin is one of happiness and fun and I especially enjoyed the transformation of the cabin by the Fool’s almost compulsive carving and whittling. The eventual end of this time transformed him back into the flamboyant Lord Golden who has to be one of the best fantasy characters ever created. His antics and machinations are a joy to read when you know the true character behind the mask.
  • the development of Fitz. He is no longer the surly young man of the previous trilogy. He has grown up and accepted his role and how he was treated. He still carries his ghosts but in a much more mature way. His handling of his complicated relationship with Prince Dutiful and his new relationship with Chade is particularly good and it seems that happier times are also ahead for him.

I’m pretty sure that I have read this second trilogy in Fitz’s story but I can’t remember the other two books. This makes me anticipate reading them even more.

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ship of destiny

Ship of Destiny (Liveship Traders #3) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

As Bingtown slides toward disaster, clan matriarch Ronica Vestrit, branded a traitor, searches for a way to bring the city’s inhabitants together against a momentous threat. Meanwhile, Althea Vestrit, unaware of what has befallen Bingtown and her family, continues her perilous quest to track down and recover her liveship, the “Vivacia, “from the ruthless pirate Kennit.
Bold though it is, Althea’s scheme may be in vain. For her beloved “Vivacia “will face the most terrible confrontation of all as the secret of the liveships is revealed. It is a truth so shattering, it may destroy the “Vivacia “and all who love her, including Althea’s nephew, whose life already hangs in the balance.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Over the years there are a small number of fantasy series that have stuck with me. This is one of them. It stands out as one of the most original and richly written stories I’ve read. The author has created a new world full of amazing characters and novel twists on old themes.

This last book brings all the Liveship strands together in a fantastic conclusion. The author’s ability to take a significant number of storylines and detailed characters, weave them together in a complicated and interconnected story without losing the reader is amazing and incredibly enjoyable. If this is one of the best series I’ve read then this is definitely one of the very best books I’ve read.

This is the final installment in the trilogy but it is a part of a much larger story. Although it’s a self contained trilogy it also doesn’t have to end here. Although this series can be read as stand alone it does have references to the Six Duchies and has impacts on the Farseer and Fitz story that continues in the next set of books. There are connections and references that enrich this story if you’ve read the original Farseer Trilogy so I’d recommend reading them first and also reading this Liveship trilogy as part of the overall story.

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the mad ship

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

The Liveship trilogy continues the dramatic tale of piracy, serpents, love and magic. The Vestrit family’s liveship, Vivacia, has been taken by the pirate king, Kennit. Held captive on board, Wintrow Vestrit finds himself competing with Kennit for Vivacia’s love as the ship slowly acquires her own bloodlust. Leagues away, Althea Vestrit has found a new home aboard the liveship Ophelia, but she lives only to reclaim the Vivacia and with her friend, Brashen, she plans a dangerous rescue. Meanwhile in Bingtown, the fading fortunes of the Vestrit family lead Malta deeper into the magical secrets of the Rain Wild Traders. And just outside Bingtown, Amber dreams of relaunching Paragon, the mad liveship …

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Second of three books in the series and while definitely setting the scene for what should be an outstanding finale it’s a fantastic book in its own right.

Following in the same style as the first book this story is very much about the characters. There is further development of the main characters but increased development of characters only introduced in the first book. Kennit, Malta and Reyn all take a more central role but the star of the story is Paragon – The Mad Ship.

Much of Paragon’s story is detailed while much more is insinuated. Intertwined with his story is that of the serpents and the Rain Wilds. Just enough detail is given to confirm details hinted at already while leaving you wondering about the rest. An expert tease!

A fabulously detailed combination of stories that creates immense anticipation for the final chapter and conclusion of everyone’s story.

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ship of magic

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

Wizardwood, a sentient wood.
The most precious commodity in the world.
Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds.

But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven…

Others plot to win or steal a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle, and drowned his crew. Now he lies blind, lonely, and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him, to sail the waters of the Rain Wild River once more.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is Robin Hobb’s second series set in the same world as the Farseer trilogy but the characters, and storyline are completely unrelated. The Six Duchies and the Red Ships War are mentioned in passing but have no real impact on the story.

The main story is based around the Vestrit family, their struggle to deal with internal strife while struggling to stay alive financially. Their main asset is Vivacia, the Liveship who “quickens” early in the book into a sentient life form. Vivacia’s cost is paid for by a generations old loan from a Rain Wild Trader family which is ominously owed in gold or blood.

There is a large cast of characters in the story from members of the Vestrit family to Kennit the pirate with ambitions to be King and a mad Liveship who has killed his family and crew on multiple occasions and is now stranded and blind on a beach.

The variety and complexity of multiple major and minor characters carries the danger of confusing the reader but Hobb’s excellent writing creates an unbelievably compelling story and keeps everything tight and easy to follow.

This is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read.

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assassin’s quest

Assassin’s Quest (Farseer Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz—or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest—perhaps to death. Only Verity’s return—or the heir his princess carries—can save the Six Duchies.
 
But Fitz will not wait. Driven by loss and bitter memories, he undertakes a quest: to kill Regal. The journey casts him into deep waters, as he discovers wild currents of magic within him—currents that will either drown him or make him something more than he was.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a complex book to review. It’s very powerfully written but in many ways it’s a difficult read. Some elements of it could do with improvement (Fitz journey to Tradeford being a prime example) and our “hero” Fitz really doesn’t have the happy ending he deserves.

I found the journey through the mountains and the scenes in the quarry (especially the creation of the dragon) difficult to get through. They were slow and full of far too much introspection to make them enjoyable. Fitz suffered through this time and it comes through in the writing which makes it hard to experience.

A few old characters are pretty much dropped from the story. While Burrich is there at the beginning and we see a huge development in the relationship between him and Fitz, he is only a minor player in the second and third sections of the book. Chade pops up now and again but is barely more than a minor character while Molly is pretty much relegated to the background and Patience only gets passing mentions.

A few new characters are introduced. Some of the minor ones are poorly structured constructs for Fitz’s story and quite disappointing. The minstrels on the way to Tradeford and the young girl from the travelling actors on the way to Blue Lake being the worst of all.

Some others are much more interesting, Kettle being the best of them. I’ve seen other reviewers criticise how the author deals with her and her vague warnings to Fitz but it’s obvious to the reader who she is. Her gradual and then reluctant full reveal is very well handled and left me wanting to read more about her back story.

Starling is the other interesting character. She is a deeply wounded person and has become desperate to secure a future for herself by writing the song that will get her a home to grow old in. She flip flops through the story between betrayal and use of Fitz for her own ends to being his friend and supporter. She’s not a nice person overall but, like Fitz, I couldn’t help but warm to her. The author returns to Fitz in future stories and I hope to see more of Starling.

The Fool is back! As well as bringing in new characters the author takes some old, existing characters and makes them the star. Although Fitz is definitely the focus of the trilogy he couldn’t be Fitz without the Fool. The development of their relationship and the growth of the Fool’s character is wonderfully well written and is one of the main strengths of this book. There are so many facets to the character of the Fool that make him so likeable but I won’t go into any of them here as they would all be spoilers.

Finally, the only true friend that Fitz has is Nighteyes. He is his constant and his saviour. One of the discussions Fitz has is concerns about how Nighteyes is developing human characteristics but Nighteyes brushes it off and comments that it is the same for Fitz who has become wolf like in many ways. The power of the bond between them is never ending and becomes stronger all through the book. Although the story starts with how Fitz owes his physical life to Nighteyes it’s clear that he also owes his mental health to him. Nighteyes is the most fascinating and likeable character through all 3 books and even more so in this final installment.

I would like to see the author develop some of the smaller stories into a compilation of short stories or novellas. Kettle and Starling’s back stories and Nighteyes time with the wolf pack would be my Top 3 requests so far, closely followed by the briefly mentioned time with Rolf learning about the Old Blood.

Fitz’s story is definitely not finished, there are two more trilogies to come, but this story is finished. So many books try and drag on their stories and end up killing them but this is a satisfying end with the scope of more to come satisfying everyone. I’m very glad I returned to this trilogy after having read it many years ago.

royal assassin

Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A lot of books suffer when they are the second installment in a trilogy. This book is an obvious setup for the third and final edition but it doesn’t fall into the common trap and is a very good read in its own right.

The crucial element of Fitz’s nature and magic, his Wit abilities, finally come to the fore and in a fantastically well described relationship with Nighteyes, a relationship that eventually both damns and saves him.

Two other important influences on Fitz are his relationships with Burrich and Chade. The former suffered tremendously in Book 1 but they manage to restore that and eventually it develops into a true friendship rather than just one of master and apprentice.

A similar development takes place with Fitz and Chade but on a different level as Chade is absent for a lot of the story forcing Fitz to make decisions on his own when he really needed advice from his old mentor. When he does return it is to find a much changed and more mature Fitz, one he is forced to accept as a colleague as much as an apprentice.

The two problems I have with this book are Fitz’s relationship with Molly. It’s a constant through most of the story but adds nothing. Having read the trilogy before I know where it’s heading and why the author treated their relationship this way but frankly it’s an annoyance in an otherwise great storyline.

The second issue is Royal and his usurpation of Buckkeep and eventually the throne. I find it very difficult to believe that Shrewd and Verity would have allowed it to happen so easily despite their individual distractions. I also find it difficult to believe that Chade was so powerless and that the Coastal Duchies permitted him to treat them in such a way. However, the political machinations were a real pleasure to read, how he manipulated the court and all around him for his own ends and how he managed to gain the power he craved. Seeing him brought low (hopefully!) in the final installment will almost be as enjoyable for me as it will be for Fitz!

assassin’s apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is probably the 3rd time I’ve read this book in the last 10-15 years. It was the first ever book by Robin Hobb that I read and that hooked me on her as an author. She writes in a fabulously fluid and descriptive way that makes her characters jump into life and carries you along with the story. It’s a style of writing that makes you want to just keep going and is responsible for a couple of later than planned nights while reading this book!

The story itself is nothing new in that it’s a young boy, abandoned and alone taken into the royal family, trained to help them and growing into a pivotal role. It’s very character rich with many people to keep track of but Hobb’s style makes it so much easier as you get to know the characters without being bogged down with unnecessary details.

Apart from Hobb’s style of writing there are some stand out elements to her story. She isn’t afraid to hurt her characters and definitely doesn’t portray them in perfect light. The relationship between Fitz and Burrich is so well told as is Fitz and Chade. Fitz goes through an awful lot for what is essentially a young boy.

The Farseer Trilogy is followed by The Liveship Traders which is an even better story but the Farseer story is essential to setting your base for this fantastic world Hobb creates.