Writing this review more or less to serve as a review for the entire series (including the follow-up trilogy of Fool's Fate).
The books were amazing. TWriting this review more or less to serve as a review for the entire series (including the follow-up trilogy of Fool's Fate).
The books were amazing. Thus the five stars, obviously.
Unfortunately it's been a wee while since I read them myself so a detailed review is likely just going to leave me open to making mistakes, but I'll try and give what impressions I can.
I remember when I first started reading, I found the first person perspective to be rather jarring. As I read through the prologue, I quite distinctly remember thinking, 'I hope this is just an introduction thing, and the rest of the story is in third...' and then being almost immediately disappointed when I turned to the first page of chapter 1 and discovered that no, truly, the entire thing was to be in first.
I'm glad I kept reading, however. I can't have known at the time just how much this character driven story was going to come to mean to me. Seeing the world through Fitz' eyes brought it all to life in a previously unimaginable way. Add to that the fantastically flawed yet still loveable characters, and it became an absolute page turner. Other reviews note that not much really happens in the book. I sort of agree, that is likely true. I remember several key events which I won't spoil, each was well done and obviously quite memorable.
But it is the characters which bring this place to life, and have you wondering why or why can't they just get along and make up you stupid ninnyheads! Normally conflict in a story is good, but with these characters you begin to really want everything to be alright for them.
My only real complaint is that at times, Fitz can come across as a bit of a whiny emo. Not that he doesn't always have good cause to, I might add, but I do recall a few instances where I just wanted to slap him out of it. However even in this I can say that it is something the character grows through, and he gets much, much better in this regard over time as the books progress.
Heartily reccomend both trilogies to anyone and everyone who loves a good character driven yarn, fantasy fan or not. Just talking about the books and more recently advising a friend to go read them has made me desperate to get my hands on copies again, to the point where a Christmas gift for myself this year may well be to buy myself a full set. :)...more
Robin Hobb is clearly a believer in, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, at least when it comes to her characters. FitzChilvary rarely knows a momentRobin Hobb is clearly a believer in, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, at least when it comes to her characters. FitzChilvary rarely knows a moments peace. This is a constant throughout the series and it is interesting to see the changes in Fitz’ reactions as his story progresses. Even as late as the early acts of Assassin’s Quest, he responds with the heat and impulsiveness of a child. Rash. Very, very, rash.
There is little regard for consequence of action or word, and more than once he is offered warning from those closest to him that soon must come a point where he cannot so quickly apologise it all away. Truthfully, Fitz may come across as a foolish character during these earlier sections, one that makes it such you cannot help but to throw up your hands and exclaim, ‘When will you learn?’
Not a unique response to a character. Poor writers often have their characters be ‘stupid’ to serve the purposes of the story. The worst writers have otherwise brilliant characters pull these stupendous feats of stupidity only at convenient times and then have them return to solving the fantasy equivalents of multi-variable calculus on the very next page. Such writing has surely made my teeth a few millimeters shorter over the years from the grinding.
Hobb’s approach to Fitz is much more believable. As mentioned, he is rash and impulsive rather than truly being denser than an old forest log. There is an internal consistency, so more often than not when you are throwing your hands up in the air over his decisions, it is born out of an exasperation for the character. For a wayward child you hope will one day begin to make better choices, but you can’t help but to fret and worry that they may never get the chance. Fitz is a character that you will come to care and worry about due to the power of Robin Hobb’s writing. You will want him to do better with his relationships and you will ache at some of the isolating decisions he sometimes makes.
As you may have gathered then, this is a character driven story through and through. Much of the enjoyment comes from seeing Fitz — and indeed other characters too, albeit through Fitz’ eyes — grow and develop as we go. Relationships are made important and the people are brought front-and-centre. Hobb will make you care for her characters and then punish you for it with the ordeals they go through. There are some truly harrowing moments where the pages flip with your heart riding up in your mouth.
Suffice to say, it is not always the lightest of reads. It is an emotionally bumpy ride that will bring you right in and have you feel it all.
Personally? I love this. It is one of the most engaging books (and series) I’ve ever read and thus is why I’ve rated it so highly. I do however also offer up a warning for those who prefer their books to be lighter and happier in nature. This one isn’t.
I must confess that the early to middle sections of this book do drag a little. It takes the whole ‘Hero’s Journey’ thing to a ludicrously literal level. Fitz treks an extremely long way and we feel every step of it. I don’t mean to suggest nothing happens during these stretches, just that perhaps the book could have been a stronger, tighter finish to this series if one or more of the interim stages of the journey had been cut. By this point we know the character quite well and so it all seemed a trifle unnecessary. I suppose to be fair though, that I should mention that we begin to see perhaps the first hints of the subtle changes to FitzChilvary’s way of thinking over and about things. It is from this portion of the book I took the above quote from. Still. I did feel it dragged, but on my first read years ago and again now, so I must mention it.
As a final point, I would differentiate Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy from other attempts at ‘grit’. In fact, despite the emotional roller-coaster agreeing to read this series embarks you upon, I’m not even entirely sure that characterizing the story as ‘gritty’ is accurate. Or rather, it is achieved in a natural feeling way. This is a dark time for the Farseer line and their people. Even so, there aren’t any incidences I can point to of people needlessly slain just to show the author is willing to be merciless. There really don’t seem to be any scenes that leap out at you as being present simply because the author has thought, ‘Ooer, that’d be edgy’.
All told, I would highly recommend a read through of this series. Go along with Fitz on his journey from bastard child to hero — even if he is incapable of viewing himself in that light. He is the catalyst, the changer. The means through which ends may be achieved. The pebble in the path of progress, able to turn that ever moving wheel aside even slightly toward one path or another.
Assassin’s Quest marked a satisfying — albeit bittersweet — ending to the Farseer Trilogy. This particular adventure is wrapped up in full, so while there is more to be found within the follow-up Tawny Man Trilogy, you could stop here and be at peace.
…Perhaps. More FitzChilvary Farseer? Who wouldn’t want that? ;)...more
Review from Reread: ------------------------ I’ve read this twice now, second time being quite recently as part of a Group Read which has the natural abReview from Reread: ------------------------ I’ve read this twice now, second time being quite recently as part of a Group Read which has the natural ability to make reading almost anything fun.
However this is a book that stands as an enjoyable and engrossing read in its own right. Sanderson manages to achieve a seemingly perfect blend of action, intrigue and character development.
In the context of a group read, we found plenty to speculate upon and discuss as we went through. We found — upon reflection, mostly — a great deal of extremely well written foreshadowing for the books many big reveals and twists so that even as you experienced that, ‘Oh snap!’ moment, it didn’t feel completely out of left field.
In fact, for one of the bigger events, there were threads linking it right back to extremely early sections of the book. So if you’re wanting something to really dig your teeth into, Mistborn: The Final Empire delivers.
This is not to say you require a degree in English Literature to appreciate the story however! Sanderson has such a way with writing that even the most action heavy sequences where Mistborn are fighting with all the powers of their Allomancy with metal flying in a storm, bodies pivoting around spires through the air and more, you can form a crystal clear image in your mind and follow it blow for blow.
Then when the fighting is done and they’re back picking up the pieces of their crew, you can see it change them. You can see the struggle to find courage in the face of what surely seems to be impossible odds. You can witness the transformation in Vin from untrusting and ill-used street kid to powerful woman struggling to trust someone yet so desperately wanting to be able.
If you’re a fan of fantasy already, or simply looking for a place to begin, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire comes highly recommended. For existing fans, Sanderson turns many of the tropes completely on their heads by asking a simple ‘What If?’ question. What if the hero lost, and evil won? How would this world look 1,000 years later? For those looking to get started, this is a well-written highly engrossing story which won’t do double duty as a doorstop and has a definite end point, being a trilogy rather than a gargantuan 12-books-and-counting-yay! experience.
Original Review: ------------------------ This isn't a perfect book, but it is still an amazing one, I perhaps would have felt more comfortable giving it 4.5 stars if that were an option.
A story of an empire gone wrong, an empire 1,000 years into a tyrannical rule after the heroes failed to bring about a change for good and a story of a heist taking place within said empire. At least, this is what it is if you were to believe the blurb. I must admit the heist part gave me pause. I wasn't quite sure I was prepared to spend the time to read a trilogy based on an 'Ocean's 11 goes Fantasy' . . . still. I had read Sanderon's Way of Kings and was blown away, so felt some trust was due.
There is so much more to this story. The characters within are well realised and grow in believable ways throughout the story through triumph and tradgedy. I'm glad I was able to put my doubts aside and read this, because it gripped me start to finish.
Twists and turns; some you can see coming, some you can't. Soaring highs and dipping lows, humour and sorrow, it's all here.
Despite being the first in a trilogy manages to end exceptionally well. If it had been a cliffhanger I likely could have forgiven it given I have the other two books in the house and will be diving into the next very shortly, yet, I'm impressed nonethless at Sanderson's ability to balance the need for an end here without closing all doors off to carry on.
Name of the Wind -- Patrick Rothfuss' first outing -- was good. It didn't quite live up to the hype, which makes me pleased I didn't see too much of tName of the Wind -- Patrick Rothfuss' first outing -- was good. It didn't quite live up to the hype, which makes me pleased I didn't see too much of the hype until after reading the book for myself for it would have served no purpose but to make me disappointed had I seen it before hand.
Wise Man's Fear, on the other hand, cannot by hyped enough. I couldn't put this down. Just. Couldn't. This is the type of book that will lead you to looking at how you've rated every book before and wonder why. I would happily give this a 6/5. Since I can't I may need to look long and hard at how I've rated most everything that has come before.
I love the characters. They're well written and expressive, even though they're all filtered through the perspective of Kvothe, which is no mean feat. I knew this book had grabbed me and made me feel something when, early on, there is a touching moment with Kvothe and Auri that had me thinking, 'Auri is lovely. . . . Something bad is going to happen to her.'
That thought on it's own is not too uncommon. There are several books that can evoke that. The difference was that the thought didn't end there. No, you see, it was followed up with the thought, 'Christ, I hope not'.
I refuse to spoil whether or not anything happens to her; I wouldn't want to rob anyone of the same anxiety I felt throughout the book, just waiting for the other shoe to drop, or not.
Kvothe spends some time at the University still; and honestly these were some of my favourite parts. Saying goodbye to everyone there was difficult. This is not to say that the adventures away from Imre and the University were not interesting -- they were! -- it was just that I worried the entire time that Kvothe wouldn't go back.
Yet this was balanced against the desire to see the story move on, to see more of how the legend of Kvothe came to be, and I wasn't disappointed in this respect either, really.
I will say however, that while more happened in this book than the first, story wise, there is still so, so, so very much yet to be revealed in the third and final book. I honestly do feel the wait for this book was worth it if it resulted in what can only be described as a masterwork.
But... Please Mr Rothfuss, I think I couldn't quite take another equally long wait for the third! I just can't! ...more
“Do you know what punishments I've endured for my crimes, my sins? None. I am proof of the absurdity of men's most treasured abstractions. A just uni
“Do you know what punishments I've endured for my crimes, my sins? None. I am proof of the absurdity of men's most treasured abstractions. A just universe wouldn't tolerate my existence.”
Looking at my review history here on Once Upon a Time to date, one may understandably draw the conclusion that all I read are books featuring assassins. ((Even Mistborn while not an assassin story per se, featured, well... Mistborn, which were themselves assassins, really.)) This isn't true, I swear! I may even get to something else one day. :P
However, apparent themes in my reading preferences aside, I did very much enjoy this assassin story.
It's very much one of those 'gritty' books, and I think most people already know whether this sort of story appeals to them or not. Living in the muck and grime of the Warrens is difficult and each must do what they must merely to survive. Joy is fleeting and momentary, with an unpleasant death in this unpleasant place the only certainty for most of the inhabitants.
'Grit' in a story is something I can personally take or leave, it doesn't instantly turn me away from a story but nor does it particularly endear me to it. At first I wondered if perhaps Weeks was trying a little too hard to stress the point of just how awful and hopeless things were for the guild rats living in the Warrens.
He managed to convince me before too much longer though that he knew what he was doing. As dark and grimy as much of the story is, there is a message of savouring what beauty is found in the smaller things of day to day life.
There is a conflict between the nihilist theories and thoughts espoused by Durzo Blint and the surprisingly hopeful outlook that Azoth tries to nurture throughout his tutelage. As much as Azoth wants to be like Durzo -- seemingly fearless and unbeatable by anyone, an appealing set of attributes to someone having grown up in the Warrens -- he struggles to adopt this ideology.
All through the story, we see Azoth -- eventually Kylar -- struggle with this.
"Life is empty. Life is worthless. When we take a life, we aren't taking anything of value." - Durzo Blint
“I regretted that I hadn't turned myself into the kind of man that you could be with. That it wouldn't be just for me to be with you, even if you wanted me. Our lives started in the same shit hole, Elene, but somehow you've turned into you, and I've turned into this. I don't like what I've done. I don't like who I've become. You don't deserve a fairy tale? I don't deserve another chance, but I'm asking you for one. You're afraid that love is too risky? I've seen what happens when you don't risk it. [...] I'm willing to risk it to see the world through your eyes.” - Azoth (Kylar)
So yes, there is romance. There is also plenty of frenetic action, and even a dab of magic to complete the epic fantasy checklist.
Don't let the lesser count of Emblems throw you off from reading this one. It was a debut work for Brent Weeks, so perhaps some elements could have been stronger. In particular, some of the reveals which would otherwise have earnt this book an, 'Oh Snap!' seemed to come from no where. They weren't jarring enough to throw me out of the book, but still noticeable.
There was also a facepalm moment when Azoth / Kylar fails to see something which I feel falls strongly under the 'Character is Stupid in Order to Progress Plot' banner unfortunately, but the final resolution of this incident is almost satisfying enough to wave off the bears and give Weeks a pass on it. It came close to eliciting a Man Tear, but not quite there.
Overall, despite the issues mentioned, I loved the book and I've dived into the second to fill out my reading time when I get caught up with the current Warbreaker Group Read. You will no doubt see reviews of the second and third books in due course. :)
Given the title of the book and a bit of the blurb on the back, if I hadn't already heard otherwise from friends forging ahead and reading the title bGiven the title of the book and a bit of the blurb on the back, if I hadn't already heard otherwise from friends forging ahead and reading the title before me, I would have gone in expecting another tale along the lines of Name of the Wind / Wise Man's Fear. I would have expected to read about the making of the legend; the story behind the story of Locke Lamora vs the Reality. Then having made this connection and comparison, I would have expected to be disappointed.
I didn't get that story. Not really. But neither was I at all disappointed. This is a solid four, perhaps pushing at the edges of a five.
I suppose in some ways we do get the story behind the story told on the blurb, but this isn't one of the really developed themes of the story as it was in Patrick Rothfuss' work. You'll find none of the depth of meaning or hidden symbolism here.
Yet you will get a fantastic story. If I were to say what the main theme was, it would be vengeance. Revenge and the toll it can take. Lies is well woven story, changing between the past and the current day, chapter by chapter for the most part. To begin, I was in many ways more interested in the recounting of the past, but before long that switched around. I enjoyed both, though, and I do wish that the recounting of the past had carried on beyond the point it did. I still had more questions!
I suppose it's possible that some of those questions will be answered in later volumes. In fact, I'd be most surprised if some of the more pressing ones did not.
I had a lot of fun reading this book, but parts of it can be demanding of you. There is a lot of humour and light-heartedness to be found within Lynch's pages for all the roughness surrounding our Gentleman Bastards; but they cannot remain untouched forever precisely because there is all the roughness surrounding them.
Caught up in a plot they don't truly understand, Lynch can be rather merciless upon them, perhaps following some of George R.R. Martin's school of thought. One I personally agree with, I might add. It adds a certain intensity to the written word to actually have to truly wonder where the cards may fall for these characters you've come to enjoy.
Normally, when I am this into a series, I need to read it right through. Or at least everything that is available. Everything else on the reading list will just have to wait until I'm done. Yet after finishing Lies of Locke Lamora, I got a few pages into Red Seas Under Red Skies before realising that no, I'd actually need a break from this one.
The ending of Lies wraps that particular chapter of Locke's life fairly well, but you still may need to take a breather after it's all over. I'm not quite sure what to make of that, whether it is a thing that works in the series favour or not. I'm keen to read the next volume, but, just, perhaps after I've read something a bit lighter between. Getting started on one of the Dresden Files books oughta do the trick....more
After this volume, Scott Lynch sees himself right near the top of my favourite author's list, wedged firmly between the likes of Patrick Rothfuss andAfter this volume, Scott Lynch sees himself right near the top of my favourite author's list, wedged firmly between the likes of Patrick Rothfuss and George R.R. Martin. Lynch's style is different from the both of them, but without any doubt shares a certain quality of excellence.
I took quite a break between reading this book and the first (The Lies of Locke Lamora). I took the break because Lies ended on a rather heavy note. I tried to go straight from it into this one, and found myself needing a breather which is completely out of the ordinary for me. I typically fly through a series, or even an authors entire body of work.
After finishing this one, however, ye Gods, if the third volume was already available (The Republic of Thieves) I'd be onto it in a heart beat. Red Seas ended on a cliff hanger... Of a sort. I don't want to give the wrong impression here. The story does not simply end in the middle or anything of the kind. The story woven within Red Seas is more than satisfactorily concluded... There is however an important thread which carries on forward. And already I risk saying too much so I shan't say more other than that I burn for the next volume!
If you read and enjoyed Lies, you know what to expect, and there is a passing good chance you'll enjoy Red Seas as well. If you didn't enjoy Lies, well, I don't expect there will be much to recommend the sequel to you, although it does depend why you didn't enjoy Lies. If the brutality Lynch shows his main characters in Lies turned you away; there is less of that here. So if you otherwise enjoyed the story of Lies, continue forward!
Thieves Republic is currently slated for a Nov 2011 release. Can. Not. Wait....more
This book was a slog for me. Not entirely the books fault; I had a lot of life changes throughout the duration which dramatically decreased my availabThis book was a slog for me. Not entirely the books fault; I had a lot of life changes throughout the duration which dramatically decreased my available reading time. A return to full time work, new baby, etc.
Yet even with all those changes, even with the acknowledgement that it wasn't entirely the book's fault... Some of it was.
I ended up finishing this book more out of a sense of duty to the series. It was a task I had to complete. A chore, almost. In short, a far cry from my experiences with the first three amazing books in this series (or the latter half of the forth). Martin's writing style is still right up there, but his pacing and story telling seem to have fallen to tatters.
Maintaining a series of this scope is no easy task and I think the side effects of that have been increasingly evident as the delay between books grew.
In terms of specific complaints; pacing is really the big one for me. A lot of the chapter cliffhangers were quite well done. So you'd reach these brief peaks of brilliance every once in a while and once trained to expect them have a certain anticipation as you near chapter's-end, but the parts that come before... ugh.
Which leads me to why I've still given this thing a 4 star. Really it'd be a 3.5 if it'd let me, but nonetheless, the above should be framed in the context of the rest of the series.
Amazing, amazing books, that perfectly balanced all elements; writing style, story, plot pace and more. This one fell off the wagon for large swathes of the book, but that still put it at the head of the pile when compared to most other books.
My hope for the series isn't dead; I think that George has it in him to pull the threads together and give us tighter volumes in the future. If we start hearing word of more book splits, that may well be the clarion call to be alarmed, but we'll just have to see.
Further, there were many legitimately enjoyable chapters in the book; there just needed to be a better ratio of those to the other kind. ...more
“Love is a fragile, corruptible thing. And yet I have seen it evince a curious strength. It is beyond any comprehension. Love is a weakness that onc
“Love is a fragile, corruptible thing. And yet I have seen it evince a curious strength. It is beyond any comprehension. Love is a weakness that once in a great while triumphs over strength. ”
Despite not awarding the first in this series -- The Way of Shadows -- very much in the way of Emblems, I truly enjoyed the book a great deal.
I just felt that not all aspects of the craft were quite to the point of excellence yet. It was Brent Weeks' debut book and it was a particularly strong and enjoyable one at that yet still lacking a certain element of refinement. It wasn't there yet.
Shadow's Edge is.
I laughed, I criedgot a lump in my front got a face full of onion juice. I was kept on the edge of my seat (figuratively at least, I don't often read while seated you see) almost from start to finish.
'Almost?', I hear you ask? Observant li'l blighters ain't ya's. But yes, 'almost'. You see, for the most part this is quite a high intensity and high action somewhat fast paced book. Whenever things do slow down it is to give you a bit of a breather while the stage is being constructed before your very eyes and a muttered, 'Oh no...' is out before you're even aware of it.
Even throughout the very beginning -- which picks up essentially immediately after the end of the first -- you can feel this sense of building tension and the escalating clash between the worlds of a pair of the main characters. I was interested because the first book -- for all it's grimy darkness -- did a good job of making us care for these characters. But it still didn't seem to ... hmm... engage quite as well as the rest of the book.
A minor niggle, but one nonetheless.
Once things really get going, the machinations and manipulations of the new players involved, the brutality of the oppressing force, the desperation in the actions of those strong enough to rebel... They will not let you rest until the book is completed.
And after you're done, the consequences will ring in your mind until you either go crazy or begin the third and (currently) final book in the series.
For me, while this book doesn't quite eke its way onto the pedestal containing the works of Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss, it comes remarkably close.
Series is a must read for any and all who love and adore fantasy, in my view.