Robin Hobb - Shastrix Books

Robin Hobb

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Assassin's Fate

Assassin's Fate

Robin Hobb

28th May 2017

The third and final entry in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy serves not just as a conclusion to this three book arc, but also is a continuation of the ongoing storylines that cross the nine Fitz novels as well as the seven Liveships/Rain Wilds novels that exist in the same fictional universe. As such, I'd strongly recommend reading the whole of the rest of the series before tackling this novel, as it serves as a satisfactory sequel to everything that's gone before, and some aspect are massive spoilers for the earlier stories, and/or won't make sense to readers not familiar with them.

In this book we rejoin Fitz and Fool as they set off on a mission of vengeance against Clerres - home of the White Prophets, the Fool's origin point, and the killers of Fitz's daughter Bee. It truly feels like an epic - 850 pages of quest - and is a surprisingly emotional adventure that explores the world and exposes more and more detail about a realm that I've enjoyed visiting so many times over the past seven years.

The characters remain compelling - two narrators with their own voices whose foibles show through, with whom it's easy to sympathise, and yet who both remain frustrating in their own ways, with their own drawbacks familiar enough that they come across as almost humorous in that the reader knows that the characters aren't going to get their own way.

As with the earlier books in this trilogy, some of the foreshadowing felt a bit more obvious than in the earlier books - whether this is because of the way prophecies are presented, my own familiarity with the style, or a deliberate choice of the author - yet this time that's less frustrating, and more vital. I felt that the foreshadowing this time served well to set up things that came later on and to put the reader into the correct emotional state to embrace the narrative as it unfolded.

Another great adventure, strong, emotional and epic. An excellent conclusion to this trilogy and extension of the series as a whole.

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Fool's Quest

Fool's Quest

Robin Hobb

12th September 2015

The second book in Robin Hobb's fifth(isn) trilogy in the Realm of the Elderlings world is an excellent continuation of the tale of Fitz - a royal bastard hiding in plain sight. The story follows on directly from Fool's Assassin, and the characters must deal with the repercussions of the events at the end of that novel.

As usual, Hobb's world is a wonderful place to return to. The familiarity of the places and people which populate her stories bring each story a sense of returning home and greeting an old friend, and as a reader I'd be happy to sit in their company through narration of their daily life, even if there weren't exciting events afoot.

However Hobb also manages to write quite frustrating characters. It's finally dawned on me that Fitz, the main character, isn't particularly bright, and as well as being completely unable to spot details which are painfully obvious to the reader, he makes reckless decisions that lead him into more and more trouble. The age old fantasy trope of characters who don't talk to each other is present, and there are plot twists that the reader has seen coming for miles that the characters continue to fail to grasp.

Despite this, this is another addictive novel to read, and I would highly recommend Hobb's series as some of the best fantasy writing available - she builds a world which is completely believable and in which you want to stay despite its flaws. I look forward to the third book and finding out where she takes the story next, with only a little edge of sadness that it'll be the end of another trilogy.

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Shaman's Crossing

Shaman's Crossing

Robin Hobb

5th April 2015

I've enjoyed everything I've read by Robin Hobb (including some short works under her alternative name - Megan Lindholm), and so when a friend said that she'd found the Soldier Son trilogy hard going I was unconvinced. However after giving up a fair chunk of time to it I'm afraid I've had to (at least temporarily) admit defeat after only a couple of hundred pages.

The story focussed on a young boy - the second son of a newly created noble, and therefore destined to become a soldier. We follow his life through some key formative experiences and as he travels off to begin his military training. It sounds lil there's promise, and a little similar to Fitz in the author's other trilogies, but I was unable to become gripped by character or narrative and it felt bland and shallow in comparison to Hobb's other work.

Often I found that I was unable to focus on the words on the page and my mind would drift even while my eyes continued to scan the page and my hands continued to turn them, such that when it came back into focus I would have to turn back several pages to find out what was happening. Ultimately this was why I felt the need to stop reading and move on to another book - my reading time is precious (especially so for the first few months of this year) and I've decided to be quite brutal about dropping books that don't grip me sufficiently.

I will try to go back and have another go at this series later, but for now I've set it aside.

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Fool's Assassin

Fool's Assassin

Robin Hobb

1st September 2014

Fitz is back for his seventh book, and overall the fourteenth full length fantasy novel set in Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings. It’s a fantastic start to a new series within the series, following Fitz some years after the end of his last adventure as he lives the perfect life he’s always wanted.

I really love Hobb's writing and it's always fantastic to return to her world which is incredibly immersive and which I am always disappointed to have to put down. The character of Fitz continues to be appealing and I always enjoy time spent in his company.

Having said that, there were aspects of this novel that felt less thought-through than in the previous novels - the foreshadowing was overly obvious throughout much of the novel which made some of the reveals less surprising than they might have been. It seemed to be done to the point that the characters seemed stupid for not being able to see it, but I suppose it could be argued that this was presented deliberately in this way to fit the first-person narrative.

The plot is quite episodic, particularly through the first half or more, with us joining the narrative for a particular incident or two before jumping forward in time, sometimes years, and I think I found this frustrating because I love spending time with the characters and felt I was missing out. However there are also larger shifts in plot which make quite dramatic changes which felt forced, as if they could have been done with a more subtle and smoother transition.

Despite this, I absolutely loved this book and can't wait for the next one. I enjoy every single moment that a Fitz story is in my hands and can imagine myself wanting to pick one up again before next year.

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The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince

Robin Hobb

27th June 2014

This novella is a prequel to Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series, an epic fantasy made up of four trilogies (although one had four books), though this is most reminiscent of the first of these. The story has two main characters, mentioned in the title, and tells the story of their lives from the point of view of a common member of the court. It’s a really interesting way to tell the story that makes a lot of in-universe sense and really draws the reader in to the range of characters presented.

Although short (I read it in two days, and was deliberately taking it slow to make it last), the book is a riot of emotions and Hobb manages to flit between tragic and lighter moments with ease. The tale is really well-crafted and flows at exactly the right pace. Unlike some of her previous shorter works, I felt this was the perfect length, reminiscent of her original Farseer trilogy without retreading material, and providing a little bit of insight into something that was hinted at in the original novels.

I absolutely loved this brief visit back to the Six Duchies, but I think a big part of that is because I’ve read the original trilogy - I don’t think it would be as appealing to someone who hadn’t.

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The Inheritance

The Inheritance

Robin Hobb & Megan Lindholm

2nd March 2014

This is the first time I've read anything by the author's Megan Lindholm persona, and I've found the shorts here varied and interesting. Brief comments on each follow.

A Touch of Lavendar - A bittersweet story about a family in slightly sci-fi world. Beautifully written and much more moving than anything I think I've read from the Hobb persona.

Silver Lady - A modern day fantasy love story that while pleasant I'm not sure I really got.

Cut - An unsubtle look at uncomfortable issues that doesn't seem afraid to go places that a lot of mainstream fiction wouldn't. Actually poses real philosophical mind benders.

The Fifth Squashed Cat - For reasons I can't fathom, this one reminded me of John Grisham. Perhaps it's the style of the first-person narrative. It's weird, but it makes you think.

Strays - Quite a sad coming-of-age story as a girl learns more about the world, with a really interesting character and relationships.

Finis - Short, almost sweet story that I really enjoyed reading.

Drum Machine - One interesting issue that arose was not knowing the gender of the first person narrator - it happened in several stories but this was the one where I felt most established in the woman I was envisioning when suddenly she became a man. Maybe this was intentional. Again, this poses some interesting ethical questions in a dystopian setting, and worked really well to tie that in with a revealing narrative.

The rest are 'Hobb' stories, set in the author's 'Realm of the Elderlings' world.

Homecoming - A prequel to the Live Ships trilogy, which fills in a chunk of backstory. Really good and felt like it could easily have been expanded to a full novel (although there are a number of similarities to the Rain Wilds series), but the journal style compressed it down nicely and allowed for some amusing asides.

The Inheritance - A nice short tale which again feels like a Live Ships prequel, but one that's really about a new character rather than telling us anything about the world.

Cat's Meat - The final short story is a standalone set in the Six Duchies before the events of the original Farseer trilogy. Another character story that explores the magic of the world in a new way, and one in which it's interesting to get a new and different perspective on this part of Hobb's creation. Reminiscent in part of the Tawny Man trilogy.

I've really enjoyed exploring other parts of Hobb's world and experiencing Lindholm writings for the first time. I'll certainly be looking for the longer Lindholm works once I've finished working my way through the author's other works.

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Blood of Dragons

Blood of Dragons

Robin Hobb

30th November 2013

The final novel in the Rain Wilds Chronicles, and thirteenth full length story to take place in the Realm of the Elderlings, Blood of Dragons follows on immediately where the previous novel left off, and wraps things up - possibly a little too quickly.

The world building aspects of this series have been the most entertaining thing, as the characters explore themselves and the new world that they find themselves in. It's a tale of discovery, and yet also of several individuals, whose arcs come to an end.

The story itself seems to be just a framework for Hobb to write about the characters and world - this isn't a bad thing in itself, but does mean that the plot is quite slow to develop and the little action that occurs is brushed over quite quickly. The climax of the novel felt particularly rushed and I was disappointed that things wrapped up quite quickly.

Overall though I've really enjoyed this more domestic look at Robin Hobb's world and spending time in the company of a variety of different characters to those in the previous trilogies. I'll certainly miss not having a fifth book to follow their development further, and look forward to Hobb revisiting the world again in the future.

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Other reviewed books

City of Dragons
Dragon Haven
The Dragon Keeper
Fool's Fate
The Golden Fool
Fool's Errand
Ship of Destiny
The Mad Ship
Ship of Magic
Assassin's Quest
Royal Assassin
Assassin's Apprentice

Unreviewed books

Forest Mage
Renegade's Magic

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