Well, if there ever were any doubt I'm biased about these books, that rating should put it aside. I just can't let any of the shortcomings take away aWell, if there ever were any doubt I'm biased about these books, that rating should put it aside. I just can't let any of the shortcomings take away any of the stars that Hobb gets for a massive, engrossing, mature and wonderfully textured tale. She is a master of creating fully realized characters who get inside your heart, caught up in politics that is engaging but not unnecessarily complicated. When the story is moving fast it takes your breath away, and when it is moving slowly (such as the first 300 pages and the last 100 pages of this 800 page volume) you just want to wallow in it for as long as possible.
The interplay between the series is a delight to observe, particularly on rereading. I can't think of any writer who can compete with the development of the world across the four different self-contained series published to date, both in terms of the depth and scope of that world and in terms of the changes wrought on it by the events of the books.
Bravo Ms Hobb. I hope you are proud of your extended magnum opus. I can't wait to see it continue.
Spoilers for the devotees below: (view spoiler)[I mentioned shortcomings above. The most egregious shortcoming as far as I'm concerned is, surprise surprise, the reunion between Fitz and Molly. Others have detailed the wrongs with this so I don't need to explain them again, but on my reread I could see things more clearly and still felt the urge to cut the last 40 pages out of the book (nods to Alsha and Aldi for that idea!).
This time round I was invested in Fitz and the Fool's relationship in a very different way. Although their parting was bittersweet, it made sense, and I never felt that the Fool should be filling the "mate and cubs" aspect of Fitz's life. Therefore, any illusion that I was annoyed at Molly for taking away the ending I wanted was gone, and it simply comes down to the implausibility of rekindling a relationship of a childhood sweetheart in spite of all the changes in between. I wouldn't have minded if he'd ended up with Starling somehow, or some new character, or even Kettricken ffs. Throw in, if you like, the fact that Fitz somehow wins Molly round with some fairly stalkerish behaviour, and the fact that Burrich feels the need to justify to Fitz his functional and happy 15 year marriage that produced 6 children. Or just take a penknife and a black pen to the book and pretend it never happened.
I was also massively frustrated by how conveniently dumb the characters were throughout the final two books when it came to seeing that Elliana and Peottre were being manipulated and that everything they did was against their will. To be honest, Fitz should have figured out that the Pale Woman was behind it, given what the Fool had told him, and certainly should have known that the mother and sister weren't just off hiking or something. It would have been far better if Hobb had just not given the reader (and therefore Fitz) the clues as to what was happening, rather than showing him repeatedly puzzle over things that were blindingly obvious.
However, these things get overlooked in view of the comments above, and the fact that Nighteyes and the Fool are among my favourite characters created ever anywhere in the world. (hide spoiler)]...more
Surprise, surprise: another 5-star rating on my Robin Hobb reread. You could call into question my objectivity regarding my old favourites, but then sSurprise, surprise: another 5-star rating on my Robin Hobb reread. You could call into question my objectivity regarding my old favourites, but then surely all reviews must have elements of subjectivity. I am admittedly a big fantasy fan, but I am discerning, and plenty of fantasy novels have been returned to the library after 100 unsatisfactory pages.
If you haven't read any Robin Hobb, you should, but don't start here. Start with Assassin's Apprentice (or with Ship of Magic if you don't get on with that) and don't be daunted by how many books there are. You aren't committed to 13.5 books. You can stop at 3, or 6, or 9. You can skip Liveships or read only Liveships. But if you have an interest in fantasy writing you should give her a try....more
My third reread, I think. It's as beautiful as ever. It's also my first reread since visiting Istabul and seeing the Hagia Sofia in person so I have aMy third reread, I think. It's as beautiful as ever. It's also my first reread since visiting Istabul and seeing the Hagia Sofia in person so I have a bit more idea of the scale and beauty of the place. Now I find myself craving another visit to Ravenna (and San Vitale): it's over 10 years since I visited - right after my first reading of this novel....more
My fourth reread of this novel, since my first encounter as a teenager. This time, I was reading for a new book club, which gave me opportunity to thiMy fourth reread of this novel, since my first encounter as a teenager. This time, I was reading for a new book club, which gave me opportunity to think a lot more about the themes and imagery he relies on, rather than my (substantial) emotional reaction.
I've upped the rating to 5 stars. If every other book were judged by my original rating criteria ("Is it exactly as good as Lions and The Sarantine Mosaic?") then I'd be assigning even fewer 5-star rating than I currently do. There's no reason GGK should be judged more harshly just because he's written some of my very favourite novels.
It's hard to say why this is in the second tier of Kay novels for me, but I'm sure those who love his work understand that there is a very personal and subjective relationship between a given reader and each of the novels. I couldn't pick a single flaw with this - his usual wonderful writing, fantastic set pieces, a fully realized world, elation and heartbreak, shades of grey - but it just is slightly further from my heart than some others.
From the comments on the book group, it sounds like everyone loves this book, which will probably make it a very boring or very interesting meeting next week....more
It's difficult to review these books objectively, as I am biased by 10 years of undying love for them. Ultimately Melanie's main strengths are in creaIt's difficult to review these books objectively, as I am biased by 10 years of undying love for them. Ultimately Melanie's main strengths are in creating complex, involving characters and political machinations that are believable, compelling and equally complex. The combination is unbeatable: with literally dozens of characters in each book thoroughly developed, the conflicts and intrigues become that much more enjoyable. I would contrast this directly with writers such as Jacqueline Carey, with whom several characters are well developed, and the rest become simply names on a page.
Throw in excellent pacing and great writing, and you can easily forgive the fact that most of the good guys are a little too perfect, and that everybody is deeply attuned to the shapes of other people's eyes and how that shows their family relations....more