Assassin’s Quest: Robin Hobb

★★★★ ½

The Farseer Trilogy: Book III

This third and final volume of The Farseer trilogy opens with a situation in which, frankly, things can only get better. If you haven’t read the preceding books and think you might like to do so, I warn you to tread carefully here. A great deal happens in this final novel and much of it grows out of events in the earlier books, so I might be giving away spoilers without even realising it.

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Royal Assassin: Robin Hobb

★★★★ ½

The Farseer Trilogy: Book II

Sometimes, at the close of a book, you feel almost physically drained. I had forgotten, quite forgotten, exactly how tough this series is: I can’t believe I was so young when I read it before. It’s harder and more brutal by far than the work of any other author I can remember reading, even more than George R.R. Martin, who is usually referenced as the example par excellence of an author who refuses to wrap his characters in cotton wool. The miraculous thing is that it all just binds you in to the story ever more tightly. There must be few mid-series books with such a raw ending, but at least the closing mood is one of mitigated triumph.

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Assassin’s Apprentice: Robin Hobb

★★★★★

The Farseer Trilogy: Book I

About a month ago, Janet asked me whether I’d ever read The Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb and the answer is a resounding yes, though I haven’t read it for many years. This was the perfect excuse for me to return to the series, because I wanted to see whether Hobb’s work really is as good as I remember. She has cast a very long shadow over my reading life: she was the first author I dared to write to, brimming over with clumsy childish enthusiasm: to my delight, she not only acknowledged my letter but sent me some signed stickers for my books. Although I try to avoid ‘favourites’ when I talk about reading, it’s safe to say there are few stories in the world that I love more than the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies. I was given Assassin’s Apprentice for Christmas when I was twelve years old and was almost immediately gripped by the harsh, windswept world it described and by Hobb’s endearing protagonist.

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