Archive for August, 2014

Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb – SPOILERS Review and SpeculationFool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
Series: Fitz and the Fool #1
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Elliot Hill
Length: 27 hrs and 18 mins
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com
four-stars

Before I start, let me be upfront – here be spoilers for Fool’s Assassin and the other books in the Realm of the Elderlings cycle.  If you have not read these, enter at your own risk.

(more…)

Advertisements

Holiday packing

Posted: August 15, 2014 in Miscellaneous
Tags:

Tomorrow I leave for a week’s vacation, including two long coach trips.

More difficult than deciding what clothes to pack is deciding what books and audiobooks to download to my Kindle Fire for the trip.  I only have 16GB on my Fire – next time I will go for 32GB at least! – and I’m not certain what internet access I will have during my trip.  So I need to decide what books I’m likely to want to read/listen to over the next week.

The first book I have chosen is, of course, Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Assassin.  Having reread much of the Realm of the Elderlings series, I’m anxious to know what she has in store next for Fitz and the Fool.  That’s the one I intend to start as soon as I board the coach.

Before embarking on my reread of Robin Hobb’s works, I’d been listening to Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.  I will certainly continue that this trip if I get the chance.

Continuing my cutesey romance change of scene from epic fantasy, I have also downloaded Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss.  It’s supposed to be excellent and I look forward to that one.

On August 26th the long awaited next instalment in Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer trilogy, The Broken Eye, is released.  This epic fantasy series s narrated by the wonderful Simon Vance, and the second book in this series probably did more than any other book to hook me into audiobooks.  This has been added to my holiday reading list, too.

In case I am desperate to sleep, I have added Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, the first in his Malazan Book of the Fallen.  I apologise to any Steven Erikson fans here, but I’ve attempted to read this several times now and fallen asleep each time.

My inlaws are planning on taking us on a short road trip through Michigan and Illinois, so I thought Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent might be an interesting one to listen to in the car if they are so inclined.

I’ll probably get nothing more read than Fool’s Assassin, if that, but at least I will have some choices if my mood changes!

What did you read on holiday this year?  Let me know in the comments.

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

100%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Final UpdateFool’s Fate – Canadian Audiobook by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 32 hours and 46 minutes
Buy from iTunesAudible
five-stars

Progress: Fool’s Fate 100% complete. Challenge 100% complete

Today I finished Fool’s Fate, the final book in the Tawny Man trilogy and the last of the five books I was reading in my Realm of the Elderlings challenge.

I was right in my prediction yesterday that the section I read today was very much a wrap-up.  Other than the expected resurrection of the Fool it was all about ensuring that the good guys were recompensed for their heroism.  Fitz gets his Molly (sigh), Dutiful gets his Narcheska, Tintaglia gets her Icefyre and they all live happily ever after and raise lots of children.

The scene with the Fool and the Rooster Crown wasn’t as I’d remembered it.  It was a beautiful scene, but it doesn’t quite reach Perrin and his Hammer for epicness.  The secret of the Rooster Crown was very Fool-like.  Some readers have wondered why Fitz didn’t learn the secret of the Fool’s gender during this whole process, but I  easily understand why he didn’t even consider breaching the Fool’s trust in this manner.

The writing of the Fool’s character development with his resignation to his death, his PTSD following his torture and his struggle to adapt to a world where he didn’t know the future and no longer had to struggle to move it into the right path was beautiful – these character insights are Hobb’s real strengths as a writer.

I’m still not 100% happy at a Fitz/Molly reunion.  Hobb had spent too much time emphasising that Molly was the love of his youth, comparing the feelings Fitz had for her to Hap’s boyish infatuation with his Svenja.  She had Fitz realise that it wasn’t so much Molly the woman he was in love with but of the people they were so long ago.  The Hedge Witch states in Fool’s Errand that Fitz’s True Love is on his way back to him.  The VERY NEXT CHAPTER he is reunited with not Molly but the Fool after many years’ separation.  What gives?  I really feel she’s been backtracking on the foundations she has laid.  I suppose I can kind of give her a pass in that the restoration to Fitz of the feelings he’d fed into Girl in a Dragon back in Assassin’s Quest as well as the lack of need for a Catalyst mean he can be the man he might have been had he not sacrificed so much for the Farseer cause.  I still feel his relationship with the Fool is far deeper and more genuine than the one with Molly.

Still I have a whole series on Fitz and the Fool to come to remedy this.  I’m familiar enough with Hobb’s writing style to know to expect wonderful character development, but very slow plot movement.  I can’t wait to read what she has in store for these wonderful characters.  My next full book review will almost certainly be for Fool’s Assassin, but don’t expect that until I return from my vacation!

So, that’s really all I have to say from my wanderings through the Realm of the Elderlings.  I’ve really enjoyed my reread of the series and thank you all for joining me.

Realm of the Elderlings: 4/5

80%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 18Fool’s Fate – Canadian Audiobook by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 32 hours and 46 minutes
Buy from iTunesAudible
five-stars

Progress: Fool’s Fate 71% complete.

Happy book birthday to Robin Hobb and Fool’s Assassin which was published today!  The Kindle and Audible version hit my download queues overnight and I had to exercise great strength of will not to dive in immediately but to complete my reread of the Realm of the Elderlings series first.  Actually, that reminds me; those of you who have read Fool’s Assassin, please would you let me know in the comments if it contains spoilers for the Rainwild Chronicles?  Thanks!  I was also exceptionally pleased that Fool’s Assassin is Whispersync for Voice enabled.  Yay!  It’s one of those services that you don’t think you’ll need or use, until you have a book/audiobook combo without it.

Speaking of audiobooks, after my whining yesterday about the North American version of Fool’s Fate not being available until the end of the month I was astounded to find it available on Audible.com today.  Mutter, mumble grumble.  I wish I’d known that before I bought the UK version.  I gave in and completed my collection.  I am used to the Audible app and prefer using it to the music app for audiobooks.  This now moves Ms Hobb up into joint third place with David Eddings as the author whose works take up most space in my digital library (according to Delicious Library.)  For the curious among you, the Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson combo takes the top spot.

So, back to Fool’s Fate.  Things are definitely picking up pace now.  In fact at 71% of the way through, it seems to be mainly over bar the shouting.  Once the Pale Woman’s plot was laid bare it didn’t take long for it to be dismantled.  I loved the fact that the Skill stone dragon was destroyed by what is clearly a wizardwood (i.e. real, live dragon based) arrow.  I also liked that its “death” restored the humanity of the Forged ones nearby who had been Forged in its making.

I loved the writing of the Fitz/Burrich/Swift/Web interrelationships.  They were very well done, as was the dilemma which divided Dutiful’s party. I am sad for Burrich’s imminent demise, as much as because it will be sad to lose such a great character.  His family’s backstory with the slavers was particularly touching.  However, I’m pretty annoyed that it’s paving the way for a Fitz/Molly reunion.  I will rant about that when/if it happens.

I also do not believe for one second that the Fool is dead.  I seem to remember a Skill healing involved, to rival the forging of Perrin’s hammer Mah’alleinir in Wheel of Time.  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow if my memory has served me correctly.

See you then!

Realm of the Elderlings: 4/5

80%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlngs Update 17Fool’s Fate – UK Audiobook by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: eBook
Narrator: Nick Taylor
Length: 31 hours and 40 minutes
Buy from iTunesAudible

Progress: Fool’s Fate 50% complete.

OK, confession time.  I was disappointed that Brilliance Audio isn’t releasing Fool’s Fate in audiobook format in Canada until later this month so I used an iTunes UK gift voucher from my parents to pick up the book from iTunes UK.  The narrator is different – Nick Taylor rather than James Langton – and I would have preferred to have had them all the same.  Still it does mean if I don’t quite finish in time I’ll be able to finish the book during my coach trip on Friday. I may still pick up the North American one just so I have the set.

This was another hard slog of a section, mirroring the hard journey our intrepid hero undergoes to reach the dragon Icefyre’s icy lair.  Lots of being cold, miserable, and hiking through treacherous snow and ice.  We’ve finally arrived at our destination, so hopefully things will start to happen soon.

Only a couple of things to note: we still don’t know who our antagonist is yet.  We’re half way through the final book of the series!  It’s becoming more strongly implied that it’s the Pale Woman.  It’s also clear that the antagonist is familiar with the Skill given the way he/she manipulates Fitz and Thick to almost kill each other.  Fitz and the Fool are becoming more comfortable with the depth of their connection.  Let’s hope Fitz’s loss of the Skill is only temporary.

More tomorrow

Realm of the Elderlings: 4/5

80%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 16Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: eBook
Pages: 928 pages
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes

Progress: Fool’s Fate 23% complete.

So, onto the final book of my reading challenge, Fool’s Fate.  The audiobook hasn’t been released yet, so the cover art shown is that from the Kindle book.  This cover is clearly reminiscent of the date the novel was first released.

This first section is pretty depressing.  It’s all about the Farseer contingent’s ship journey to the Outislands and Thick’s sheer misery during the voyage.  It does highlight Nettle’s Skill with dreams and shows the likely way in which she will aid the quest for Icefyre’s head.  I did feel this section could have been compressed considerably.

The politics of the quest are starting to be discussed now.  Why did the Narcheska place such a demand on Dutiful?  What did she hope to gain?  Or is she being manipulated?  Of course, I remember the answer to that from my reading years ago!

As I’m still shipping Fitz and the Fool, I did love the section where the Fool joins the Skill lesson and connects with Fitz.  Definitely more than plumbing!

Realm of the Elderlings: 4/5

80%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 15Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #2
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: eBook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 25 hours and 56 minutes
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com

Progress: Golden Fool 100% complete.

Woohoo, four books down, one to go!  Next up: Fool’s Fate.  I would just like to say thanks to everyone who has been following along with me on this reread.

So, a lot happened in that last section of the book I just finished.  Here are some of the highlights.

Dutiful’s Coterie is formed.  I loved this particular section.  It was beautifully written how Chade, Dutiful, The Fool and Thick all came together in the Skill to save Fitz’s life, with each of them bringing something to the table.  Chade’s arcane knowledge, the Fool’s love for Fitz, Thick’s sheer strength in the Skill and Dutiful’s skill at bringing it all together.  I believe they are making a big mistake in shutting The Fool out of the subsequent Skill lessons, which they may find to their cost.

The rapprochement between The Fool and Fitz after their argument about love vs plumbing.  I can’t believe Fitz didn’t see that the reason The Fool was shutting him out was because of the deep, deep hurt he felt at Fitz’s reaction.  I hope the rapprochement continues.

The revelation of The Fool’s tattoos and the moral dilemma which faces Fitz should the Fool go to Asjeval.  It appears Fitz will have to choose between his loyalty to the Farseers, a trait which has defined his whole life up until now, and the Fool’s life.  Tough choice.

So, onto Fool’s Fate, the longest book in my challenge.  The audiobook has not yet been released in North America, so I will be reading only.  I guess we’ll find out what happens next.

Join me then!

Realm of the Elderlings: 3/5

60%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 14Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #2
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: eBook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 25 hours and 56 minutes
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com

Progress: Golden Fool 51% complete.

So, as I guessed, Amber’s friend Jek’s arrival in Buckkeep caused the Fool’s Amber and Lord Golden personae to converge.  She also revealed to Fitz the depth of the Fool’s feelings for him.  Yep, still sailing that ship.

I was very interested by Fitz’s reaction to all of this.  His thoughts were more along the lines of “oh no, everyone thinks I’m sleeping with my boss!” and “oh no, how could the Fool have had a totally different life about which I knew nothing?”  Not once did he think “oh no, the Fool’s feelings for me are deeper than I realised; how can I let him down gently?”  Nope, never goes there.  Clearly, Fitz doesn’t want to deal with his own feelings towards the Fool.  

I suppose now is as good a time as any to address the whole issue of the Fool’s gender and sexuality in general in Hobb’s world.  At no point is it confirmed to which gender the person known as the Fool/Amber/Lord Golden belongs.  Right from the very beginning when we are first are introduced to the character in Assassin’s Apprentice his gender is in question.  He presents himself as male and is referred to as male even though the character is distinctly androgynous.  The Fool is often seen as refusing medical aid, perhaps to conceal his true nature.  As Amber he adopts a female persona and as Lord Golden male.  Starling is the first to suggest the Fool is female.  Whenever anyone asks him directly he tells them it’s none of their business.  Hobb uses the male pronouns when referring to the Fool or Lord Golden and the feminine ones when referring to Amber.  

At one point, (Assassin’s Quest, chapter 30) Fitz and the Fool are discussing love and sex and Fitz suggests that two men cannot love each other in the way that a man and woman do.  The Fool’s response: “you’re confusing love with plumbing”  Nicely done, Fool, nicely done.  However, my ship is rocked somewhat by Fitz’a insistence that true love does require a physical relationship and that he could never be physically involved with someone of the Fool’s perceived gender.  

In other news, at 50% of the way through the second book, we FINALLY get onto the quest for this series’ McGuffin, the quest for Icefyre’s head.  Yay.

I’m also enjoying the way Thick is slowly becoming better understood by both Fitz and Dutiful.  

More tomorrow

Realm of the Elderlings: 3/5

60%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 13Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #2
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: eBook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 25 hours and 56 minutes
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com

Progress: Golden Fool 43% complete.

I don’t actually have a great deal to say about today’s reading.  It’s more setup.  I was interested in the beginnings of Dutiful’s Coterie with Fitz, Dutiful, Chade, Thick and Nettle clearly being setup for that.  I was less involved shall we say in the whole Hap/Jinna subplot.  Hap’s pure raison d’être was to act as a comparison to Dutiful – both of Fitz’s “sons” need him and he’s struggling to balance the two and also to highlight Fitz’s own youthful indiscretions.

I was glad that Hobb made it clear that Fitz really didn’t return Jinna’s affection in any meaningful way.  I’m still completely shipping Fitz and the Fool, but in any case Molly is still hanging around in the background <sigh>  In terms of the pairings, I’m a little frustrated that Hobb isn’t sticking to her “Molly is Fitz’s youthful fling, there’s someone (i.e. the Fool) in his future for a deeper relationship.”  I remember that Fitz ends up with Molly at the end of Fool’s Fate, so I hope that’s reversed in Fool’s Assassin.

Speaking of the Fool, from the name of the next chapter, “Jek,” I have the feeling that his Amber and Lord Golden personae are going to collide drastically leaving Fitz with a real “WTF!?!” moment.  We shall see tomorrow!

Realm of the Elderlings: 4/5

80%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 12Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #2
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: eBook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 25 hours and 56 minutes
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com

Progress: Golden Fool 19% complete.

So, onto a new book, Golden Fool.  Once again I must comment on the cover art – isn’t it gorgeous?

Once again, at the beginning of the book there are lots of lovely character moments rather than fast plot progression.  I particularly appreciated Kettricken’s meeting with Fitz to share his grief at the loss of Nighteyes.  I’m so happy that Fitz – and the reader! – were given space to mourn this wonderful character.  

Other notable character moments were Dutiful’s being torn between reaching out to Fitz as a father figure and maintaining his princely decorum.  I also look forward to seeing more of Chade’s servant, Thick.  If memory serves, he has a large role to play in the story.

The seeds were also being set for the political intrigue around the Narcheska and who is really behind the marriage offer.  I look forward to seeing how that is developed.

At this point I really should mention how incredible it is that I have been able to marathon Hobb’s writing to this extent.  Normally I like to change up my reading – I often have several different books on the go at once – but Hobb’s marvellous world and characters have been able to retain my interest effortlessly.  That says a heck of a lot right there.