Saturday, January 28, 2006

Robin Hobb

It's been a while since I reviewed any actual books here because I've been working my way through three Robin Hobb trilogies: the Farseer trilogy, the Liveships trilogy and the Tawny Man trilogy. I finally finished the 800+ pages of my hardback edition of Fool's Fate over breakfast this morning with a sigh of pleasure but also pain - it's over: I have no more tales of FitzChivalry Farseer and his friend, the Fool, to delight me. (By the way, anyone who bitches about the size of the Harry Potter books should try lugging this one around with them - it's huge !)

I find Fitz, Nighteyes, the Fool, Burrich, Verity, Kettricken and Patience utterly fascinating and very sympathetic... I hate Regal with a fiery passion - and feel he deserved far worse than he got ! Had his comedownance been in my hands, I would have wreaked bloody havoc on his head (although his end was fairly bloody in Hobb's hands !)

I'm not so fond of the Liveships trilogy, although Wintrow, Althea, Vivacia, Malta and Selden, and Paragon all interest me, and Amber fascinates me (especially given what we discover about her in The Golden Fool, the second book of the Tawny Man trilogy).

Hobb has created a well-realised world. It doesn't have the depth of Middle-earth since the languages are only vaguely hinted at, and there's only a little bit of history included (although Hobb has written 'Realm of the Elderlings', a short story that appears in Legends II), but the characters in the Fitz trilogies are very well developed and the two very fascinating kinds of magic (the Skill and the Wit) have clearly been given a lot of thought. (I wrote about Hobb's Skill in my essay 'The Influence of Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings on women writers of fantasy fiction' for the 2004 annual Tolkien Society Seminar.)

I highly recommend Hobb's three trilogies, espcially if you are not fond of fantasy featuring Elves, Dwarves and the like (as I recently reported).

In the meantime I shall try not to lose myself amidst the snow and ice of Geraldine McCaughrean's The White Darkness !

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