Assassin’s Fate: Robin Hobb

★★★½

My relationship with this final trilogy of the Farseer series hasn’t always been a happy one and this concluding book continued in much the same vein. I’ve been reading it on and off since May and have only now spurred myself to go back to the beginning and read the whole thing cover to cover. It’s an ambitious novel which synthesises storylines from all three of Hobb’s different series set within this world, meaning we encounter many familiar faces and old friends, as they join forces for the final showdown. There is much to enjoy in its action, but I couldn’t help feeling – as I’ve felt through this trilogy – that the tale sacrifices the emotional intensity of the earlier books. A warning now, before we begin. This post contains spoilers for the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies, as well as for the Rain Wild Chronicles and the earlier books in this trilogy.

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Fool’s Quest: Robin Hobb

★★★½

Fitz and the Fool: Book II

Some of you may remember that I had difficulty with the first book in Robin Hobb’s new series. Having been a devoted fan of her Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies, I felt that some of the tight-knit drama of those books had faded, and that Fitz’s story in the new trilogy had come to be governed by the meandering pace of her more recent Rain Wild novels. But I seem to be the only one who wasn’t convinced. There are many glowing reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and in the press. More than any of those, I give weight to Heloise’s opinion and I know that she enjoyed both the first book and this sequel. So I wanted, very much, for this second instalment in the series to show me how wrong I was. Did it? Well, not quite. But something picked up in the final pages and I’m now cautiously looking forward to the third and final (?) novel, which promises to fire on all four cylinders again.

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Fool’s Assassin: Robin Hobb

★★★ ½

Fitz and the Fool: Book I

And so the first book in Robin Hobb’s new trilogy is published, reacquainting us with characters whom we last met ten years ago in the heart-rending Fool’s Fate (or during last year’s reread, in my case). I was thrilled to be granted a review copy of Fool’s Assassin, which I’ve mulled over for some months, and now, as publication date draws nigh, it’s time to share my thoughts. As you know, Hobb’s books have played a crucial role in my formation as a reader, and ever since I heard that a new trilogy was in the pipeline, I haven’t been able to help feeling rather anxious. Let me explain.

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Blood of Dragons: Robin Hobb

★★★ ½

The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book IV

In the fourth and final volume of the Rain Wild Chronicles, we rejoin our young keepers and their dragons in the ruined Elderling city of Kelsingra. With most of the company still stranded on the far side of the river and game growing scarce, it becomes increasingly important for the dragons to learn to fly before they become too large and heavy for their untried wings. Heeby and Sintara, who have made it into Kelsingra, have discovered marvellous baths and warm rooms which have improved their strength and growth: finally, it seems that their ancestral dreams of glory might be within reach after all.

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City of Dragons: Robin Hobb

★★★ ½

The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book III

And so, at long last, Kelsingra has been found. In this third book of the series, the dragons and their keepers have finally made their way back to the fabled, half-remembered city which features in so many of the dragons’ ancestral memories and which promises, in some as-yet undefined way, to heal and transform them. Faced with rolling hills and woods and solid ground, the like of which they have never seen before, the human members of the expedition rapidly come to understand that this is a place that could make a good home. But there is much to do.

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Dragon Haven: Robin Hobb

★★★

The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book II

Following on in quick succession from The Dragon Keeper, we rejoin the dragons and keepers making the long, hard journey up the river in search of the elusive Elderling city of Kelsingra. As they get further from Casserick, leaving ‘civilisation’ behind them, it becomes increasingly clear that they have the freedom to break free of old social norms and create their own. But what shape that society should take, and how it should be regulated, and by whom, are questions that threaten to become fatally divisive.

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The Dragon Keeper: Robin Hobb

★★★½

The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book I

Those of you who followed my Robin Hobb reread a few months ago will remember that I had no plans to read The Rain Wild Chronicles. My heart has always been on the Farseer side of Hobb’s fantasy world and, when I finished The Tawny Man trilogy, I believed that storyline was tied up. Although I’d enjoyed The Liveship Traders, the Rain Wilds wasn’t necessarily a place I felt the need to go back to; and, moreover, I’d read a number of lukewarm reviews of the series. However, the situation has changed since then.

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The Wilful Princess & The Piebald Prince: Robin Hobb

★★★

Anyone who followed my Robin Hobb reread earlier in the year will understand why I’ve been looking forward so much to this new novella. Set at Buckkeep, it forms a welcome return to the history of the Farseer family – not, I hasten to add, that it’s a continuation of Fitz’s story (for that we have to wait until April and the publication of Fool’s Assassin – God help my poor nerves). Instead it takes a step back in time to look at the story behind one of Buckkeep’s most popular legends: the Piebald Prince.

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Fool’s Fate: Robin Hobb

★★★★½

The Tawny Man Trilogy: Book III

I was in no position to even think about writing a post immediately after finishing this (the tears would have been in the way) and, even after a night’s sleep, I feel emotionally crushed and somehow hollow. Yes, I’ve read it before, but that was ten years ago and I scarcely remembered any of it: the essence, rather than the detail, of the end. No doubt I’m going to lose my equanimity at some point during this post and start talking about fictional characters as if they’re real… I apologise in advance for that, but it can’t be helped.

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The Golden Fool: Robin Hobb

★★★★½

The Tawny Man Trilogy: Book II

I take back what I said at the beginning of my post on Fool’s Errand: actually, you should read The Liveship Traders before embarking on The Tawny Man, otherwise there are going to be vast swathes of this book that don’t make any sense to you. Until I reread these books, I’d always thought of them as a continuation of The Farseer, but now I’m beginning to realise that actually they blend and merge and continue threads from both of the earlier trilogies, weaving them together into a rich story with a flavour all of its own.

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