Robin Hobb

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Robin Hobb

Postby K.Evenstar » Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:17 pm

I had a browse but didn't find any threads dedicated to this writer, which surprised be because she seems pretty popular. I kept looking at the Farseer trilogy in the shops but being put off because I thought it was going to be like Magician by Raymond Feist (just a different profession.) But after having the series recommended to me by several unrelated friends, I gave in and took out Assassin's Apprentice from the library. When I opened the book, a strange thing happened. I was no longer in my bedroom in Surbiton, but in a candlelit room with a man writing at a desk, papers all over the place. He was speaking as he wrote, and I could hear his voice, not my own "head voice" that usually narrates books to me. I was drawn in right away and have grown to know and like the characters (and love the Fool.)

From picking up Royal Assassin I finished the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies withing a month. My favourites are those featuring Fitz and the Fool (in his role as the Fool.) The characters in the Liveship books were confusing and less instantly likeable. They were perhaps more real in being less black-and-white, but as soon as I thought I liked someone, he would do something unforgiveable. (Kennit in particular.) I did, however, admire the idea of the Liveships - after all, sailors speak as if their ships are alive, so it is a little step to make a ship that truly lives.

The Tawny Man picked up elements of both of the previous trilogies and resolved many of the mysteries. I was glad to meet Fitz once more, and his meeting with the Fool after twenty years made a huge smile break out across my fate. Fitz, though much older, is recogniseably the same character but older and (possibly) wiser. Though the story of a prince going to slay a dragon to win Fair Maiden's heart and hand is an old one, it was written in such a way to be original, and in this trilogy character and relationships are brought to life. I shed one or 2 tears in the final book, and though I loathe hearing this of every fantasy novel out there, there was something resembling the Lord of the Rings in the last book.

One gripe about the series or trilogies is the habit so many of the characters have of not staying dead.

I like the fact that though there are nine linked books, it is broken up into three bitesized chunks of standalone(ish) story. (Ermmm... maybe I am alone in thinking that a trilogy of books of 600+ pages each is a "bitesized chunk.")

Who else out there has read Hobb's books? What are your thoughts on them?
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Re: Robin Hobb

Postby Ugluk » Thu Aug 17, 2006 7:35 am

K.Evenstar wrote:(Ermmm... maybe I am alone in thinking that a trilogy of books of 600+ pages each is a "bitesized chunk.")



Please. You're speaking to Lord of the Rings fans here. 8)


I was nudged into reading the books by luthienelflover when we were holding a discussion on fantasy. I've read Assassin's Apprentice and am working on Royal Assassin. So far, I'm enjoying both - while in places, they could be considered a very conventional fantasy story, the story is complex and many-layered, the characters interesting and appealing, plus, it's about an assassin. :twisted:
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Postby K.Evenstar » Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:47 am

I think it can certainly be defined as "conventional fantasy," but that it is well-written conventional fantasy. And I think "Fool's Fate" has some of the best bits of writing I've read in a while.

Love your title. :lol:

Keve xx
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Postby Lothloriel » Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:28 pm

I've read all three trilogies and loved each. Liveship was perhaps my least favorite, for several reasons. I agree that the characters were less likeable, except for Amber (because who can't love her) and Paragon, whom I loved even through his madness. I disliked the ending, though that is just me. I did love the premise of liveships, though.

The Tawny Man I loved. I cried during it (not to spoil anything, but I'm sure you know where), had a few laugh-out-loud moments, and couldn't put it down.

Fitz is perhaps the most real character I have encountered, and yet the most likeable. I find that when I read a "real" character, their flaws are exaggerated and put me off. Fitz was human without being a flop, heroic but believable, and failed with class.

Kettricken was another character I really enjoyed. I especially loved the down-to-earth royal Hobb depicted her as. She can be frighteningly queenly and yet astonishingly human.

And, of course, my favorite of all was the Fool. I don't think there are quite words to describe him, but I do think it is impossible to read the trilogies...or ANY of the books, withough loving the Fool.

All around excellent books, and I plan on buying all nine.

~Lothy
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Postby Elkay2 » Fri Nov 24, 2006 10:39 am

Love Robin Hobb. Loved the Assassin series and the Tawny man series (though the ending was a bit sappy for RH) and the Liveship books too.

I'm reading her newest project and I'm not as into it. We'll see where it goes. It has an interesting premise -- a kind of English Victorian yet feudal society (the technology and morals of the Victorians, the feudal rankings of a more medieval age) raids and takes over a Great Plains society, complete with Sioux-like and Apache-like peoples. Then it's going to invade a forested area and the forest people are taking steps to try to prevent it. I just don't like the characters much -- so far. I've only read the first, Shaman's Crossing, and people on Amazon were complaining that the second book is painful. So I might wait until the series is complete before reading the rest.
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Postby Lothloriel » Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:53 pm

I've read both Shaman's Crossing and Forest Mage (I believe that's the title) and although they are very well-written, I didn't like either of them much. The first book was fairly enjoyable but the second was, indeed, painful. I'm going to read the third, but I doubt I'll buy them.
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Postby Mithfânion » Mon Mar 05, 2007 2:36 am

I'll not be bothering with the third one. This new series is awful and easily Hobb's worst work. Forest Mage could have been a great book but it was a terrible drag.
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Postby Arassuil » Sat Apr 14, 2007 8:05 am

I read the Assasin series and enjoyed them enough to finish them. Can't say Hobb's writing inspires me much though.
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Postby Rodia » Wed May 30, 2007 9:56 am

*bump*

Anyone want to talk Liveships?
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Postby Dave_LF » Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:05 am

*bump*

Sure, since I've been reading it and should finish tonight.

First of all; good, good books. With one notable exception, the consensus in the Hobb threads here seemed to be that Farseer and Tawny Man are fantastic, while Liveships is no better than ok. I disagree; Liveships is a different story told in a different style, but I found it every bit as satisfying and elevating as Farseer (I haven't read Tawny yet). It is certainly a more complex story with more complex themes, structure, and characters, and it dares to dwell on mundane topics like politics and economics that are typically anathema in fantasy; but my opinion is that Hobb pulled it off with flying colors. I use the word fantasy, but this is not your hackneyed sword-and-sorcery novel. As in Farseer, Hobb has managed to be almost totally original; effortlessly avoiding the twin dangers of cliche and deliberate anti-cliche. In fact, aside from the conceit of the Liveships, it is quite possible to forget you're reading fantasy for much of the first two books and instead imagine it's some sort of historical fiction set in a slightly off-kilter version of our own world. The occasional reminder that this is a universe where magic and potentially sinister forces lurk beneath the surface and where you don't know all the rules is unsettling and discordant in a pleasing way that reminded me of the first acts of The Village and many of Steven King's novels. The disorientation subsides as more and more of the world is revealed and Hobb drops hints that allow you to situate the story with respect to Farseer.

HERE THAR BE SPOILERS
I don't want to dwell on specifics too much, but I'm still trying to guess how Liveships will ultimately tie together with Farseer and Tawny. The obvious ties are the two Elderling cities, the two prophets, and twin destinies that involve awaking dragons. The only explicit material link I've encountered so far was the (surprising) revelation that Amber had known and loved Fitz at one point. I'm still trying to puzzle out exactly who she is--the fact that she remembers him with a broken nose means she must have known him after he "died", which rules out both Molly and the woman Shrewd had chosen for him (whose name I don't remember). But the fact that she gave the carving an axe means she must have known something of his history too, which rules out casual traveling companions. Since Amber has so much in common with the Fool a.k.a "The White Prophet", I'd been assuming she'd turn out to be a prophet of some other color; now I'm wondering if the Fool might have undergone another one of his transformations and they might not be one and the same. I suppose she could be Starling, Ketricken, or maybe even Patience (which would explain Jek); but any of those would require a heck of an explanation.

As a footnote: The idea was not wholly his own, but in Dragons of Eden Carl Sagan argues that there is a fundamental connection in the human psyche between dragons, sexuality, and death. The way Hobb has woven these three things together in both Farseer and Liveships (and presumably Tawny as well) makes me wonder whether she's heard the same thing or whether she's an example of it.
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