Tag Archives: wolf

wit’ch fire

Wit’ch Fire (The Banned and The Banished #1) by James Clemens

From Goodreads:

From a brilliant new voice in fantasy comes a band of heroes, a world in peril, and an unforgettable heroine whose unexpected gift of magic awakens an ancient, slumbering evil.

On a fateful night five centuries ago, three made a desperate last stand, sacrificing everything to preserve the only hope of goodness in the beautiful, doomed land of Alasea. Now, on the anniversary of that ominous night, a girl-child ripens into the heritage of lost power. But before she can even comprehend her terrible new gift, the Dark Lord dispatches his winged monsters to capture her and bring him the embryonic magic she embodies.

Fleeing the minions of darkness, Elena is swept toward certain doom-and into the company of unexpected allies. Aided by a one-armed warrior and a strange seer, she forms a band of the hunted and the cursed, the outcasts and the outlaws, to battle the unstoppable forces of evil and rescue a once-glorious empire…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yet another series that I read a long time ago and have decided to revisit. I was a bit wary of doing so as although I remember the series and even the covers, I couldn’t remember anything about the story or characters. My misgivings were definitely misplaced and once I was a couple of chapters in it started to ring familiar bells and I was really enjoying it.

The quality of writing is really very good. The characters are diverse but very manageable and very well introduced. This first book is all about bringing the band of characters together, showing us their individual stories and setting them up for the main story which is also partly introduced.

This book kind of reminded me of the Dragonlance stories with its mixture of human and non-human characters and with magic at its core. However, while I found Dragonlance quite simplistic and dated this story is much more complex and definitely fits with modern fantasy writing.

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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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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!