Monday, July 14, 2014

Robin Hobb, a really good writer

Over the past week or so I have been down sick.  Sick enough that even trying to watch tv has been a pain, so I dug out some of my older books to read.  Six of the books I read were from Robin Hobb. This talented fantasy author wrote a series, well two series, dealing with a very different character.

FitzChivarly Farseer is a bastard. Not in personality, though he can be at times, but in the traditional sense of being born out of wedlock. In today's culture it should not matter at all (yeah it can sadly enough) but in a world that is the fantasy version of the middle ages, it is a big thing.  His father was the King-in-waiting, Chivarly Farseer. The King-in-waiting is basically the next in the line for the crown.

The first book starts with Fitz being brought to where his father is by his maternal grandfather and foisted off on the first person there.  Thus begins a series of books dealing with magic, majesty, power, monsters, good, evil and everything that makes fantasy the genre it really is.

There are two series and they are the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy. The Farseer trilogy deals with Fitz from the age of six till about twenty.  He goes through so very much.  From growing up learning to be a hidden man, a spy and assassin, to discovering he has no one but two types of magic in his blood. 

The first being the Farseer magic known as Skilling.  Basically this magic is a lot like psychic ability. There was telepathic contact and far seeing (thus the family moniker) but as the series evolved other things showed up. Like healing, again psychic.

The other form of magic was called Wit.  This was from Old Blood, a group of people who can bond with animals, speaking to them and seeing through their eyes.  While Skilling is considered a good thing, having Wit was considered horrible.  Misunderstood by most, anyone found with Wit were shunned and in many cases killed outright.  Fitz bonded three times in the first series.  First with a puppy that his guardian sent away from him before they were bonded too closely, second to an animal that died and finally to NightEyes, a wolf cub and long time companion for our hero.

This first series deals with the Red Ship Wars and the forged ones.  Fitz has many adventures, many highs and many lows.  Told as a series of remembrances, the books are less action and more characterizations.  Something that I adore. This is not a series of books I would recommend for immature readers.  You need to have the ability to understand that good does not always triumph and that the hero can do bad things and still be the hero to read these books.

The sequel series, The Tawny Man, picks up years after the end of the first series.  Fitz is now calling himself Tom Badgerlock. As the Witted Bastard, FitzChivalery Farseer, is thought to be dead and buried, it was a wise thing to do.  He settled down, built a life in the woods with Nighteyes and had even taken in a boy, Hap and raised him as his son.  Life is good, if simple for him when he is dragged out of his simple life and back into the world of the FarSeers. Expected to train the young prince in his Skilled magic, he finds that there are more conflicts and battles waiting for him.  He is now 35 and still a youngish man.  He is not recognized by the people of Buckkeep, which is a good thing because of how he is considered dead by most people.  The second series immerses us yet again into a world of intrigue and politics, of hatred and racism yet holds up moments of utter beauty and love. Dealing more with Fitz and his relationship with the Fool, these books move strongly into the future that the Fool has seen.  We learn much more about that very interesting character and just why he has spent so much time with Fitz.

If you have a time where you want to be totally enthralled by a series of books I recommend them.  Robin Hobb is a very talented author and I am now trying out her Liveship books.  Set in the same world but with different characters.

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