Sunday, December 27, 2015
While book one focused on Fitz's coming of age in Buckkeep, this delves further into the lore/use of magics, disillusionment with King Shrewd, and that pesky rascal Regal. The Red Ship Raiders are still threatening the Six Duchies, and that is the main external conflict. We get a bit more from the awesome ladies in this one, with many of these characters quickly becoming my favorite of all time.
I'm continuing to adore the way this series is unfolding. It doesn't feel cumbersome, the facts are presented in a well-paced way, and there is a great mix of good and bad characters. The Fantasy tropes of using insanely long names and lots of info dumps are not part of this trilogy, which is oh-so refreshing. We learn more about the Six Duchies and why there are resentments between the inland vs coastal duchies, and how these relationships affect fighting a mutual enemy.
Hobb is a master with her storytelling. I love the moral lessons and word play that the reader experiences with a character such as the Fool. Bits and bobs pertaining to loyalty are always highlighted with characters like Chade, Burrich, and Fitz. The developing friendship between Patience and Kettricken is something I'd been rooting for since the beginning. Verity is admirable and Chade makes me sad, anxious, and appreciative that there are people in this world willing to do their work quietly for the benefit of all.
The story progresses to a very dark place near the end, which is expected so the final book will have situations to resolve. The suspense I felt on the last page was appropriate. Even though it's evident the story is incomplete, it wasn't an unsatisfying, burning cliffhanger as Hobb could have made it. I appreciated that, especially with the strong feelings she evokes for these characters in her writing. Needless to say, (but obviously, still saying it!) I have the highest hopes for the last installment in this trilogy. Robin Hobb is brilliant.
Monday, December 14, 2015
Robin Hobb has been all the rage this year among my friends on YouTube. I now completely understand the hullabaloo! I'm going to keep this review fairly short, since so many things have already been said about this novel. It is a phenomenal Fantasy story with a rich world that sets up nicely for a long story arc. We follow Fitz, bastard son to Prince Chivalry, who is unceremoniously dumped at the castle by his maternal Grandfather and mom one day when he is six. He is taken under the wing of the Stablemaster Burrich, and thus builds a life at Buckkeep. This installment is his coming of age.
Not only is the writing great, the characters are fantastically developed and evoke empathy or hatred. I really like George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, but most of those characters are unequivocally bad. It's also hard to form attachments when you think a character is going to die any second anyway. I loved the magic present, from the Skill to Fitz's use of the Wit, evoked when bonds are formed with animals. I liked the Mountain people presented later in the story...particularly the novel concept that royalty pitches in and performs the same duties as servants, because everyone works together in a true attitude of service for their community.
Fitz's observation skills, particularly when he apprentices under Chade, are fun and unique. For whatever reason, it reminded me of mom and I eavesdropping on people in the grocery checkout lines. Nice to hear a male doing that in a novel for a change! There is political intrigue galore, all of it well-paced. This is one of my favorite books of the year. I journaled the maps, characters, and main plot points while reading- because I know I will be reading all books by this author. If you know my commitment issues with series (as in stopping after the first or second book) this is high praise indeed. I find this a great intro into Fantasy, especially for those who love literary fiction and are interested in exploring another genre. I've heard this series pales in comparison to the next trilogy, The Liveship Traders, which must be really fantastic. I can't wait to keep reading!