Jamie Collins's Reviews > Golden Fool

Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
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's review
Dec 14, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read in December, 2009

4.5 stars. I enjoyed this very much, and stayed up far into the night reading. It does have an unsatisfying ending, common to the middle novel of a trilogy, so I'm glad that I have the third book at hand.

Fitz is such a wonderfully flawed hero: self-centered, almost childishly stubborn, and prone to melodramatic self-pity. But I mourn for his losses and rejoice in his victories and I desperately want him to be happy.

I'm tremendously curious about the Fool, and I can't wait to see how the relationship between Fitz and the Fool will pan out. I badly want a happy ending for both of them.

I dislike Chade more and more as the series progresses.

I thought the introduction of the traditional Fantasy Quest, which will evidently be the plot of the final book, seemed a bit forced. And when the characters from the Liveships trilogy showed up they felt like an intrusion into Fitz's story, bringing a lot of exposition along as baggage.
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Reading Progress

12/12/2009 page 184
25.95% "The second book in a trilogy is always a downer - I'm just waiting to see how everything is going to fall apart. The poor Fool."

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Hazel (last edited Dec 15, 2009 03:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hazel Jamie, I don't understand why so many fantasies are written as trilogies. I find it annoying sometimes and wonder why they can't write one good book? Do you know whether it's required by publishers, perhaps a matter of marketing? Or is it an artistic preference?

I've read (and loved) this trilogy, but not the Liveship books. Can you tell me which characters they have in common? I agree the Fool is a hugely intriguing figure. I wasn't entirely satisfied with the character development there. Actually, I didn't think Fitz matured convincingly over the course of the series, either. I look forward to your thoughts on that.

Jamie Collins Fantasy authors have to create a whole new world, and it takes a lot of pages to give that world some depth. Although Hobb spends most of her time on the characters. I tend to prefer long books, and I like trilogies as long as I have all three books available to me. It's long enough to tell a complex story but doesn't drag on forever.

In this second book there's a delegation from Bingtown that shows up, including a woman who reveals some of the Fool's secrets. Those are characters from the Liveships trilogy. All the stuff about the sea serpents and the dragons is from those books, too.

I'm in the middle of the third Fool book now, and so far I'm a little disappointed with it and unsatisfied with Fitz.

Hazel I tend to read the first book, and then decide whether I want to continue. Sometimes I've forgotten the first by the time the second comes out, so have to reread it. Sometimes I repeat the process again when the third comes out! And seldom is the quality that first appealed sustained throughout the three. More often, I'm disappointed, or else I lose interest. Maybe my attention span is too short!!
But seriously, do you think quantity equals quality, and number of pages the way to provide depth?

Jamie Collins I don't think quantity equals quality, but I enjoy long books and book series. It feels like a greater return on my time and emotional investment. Again, it helps if you pick a completed series so that you don't have to wait on new books.

There are some standalone fantasy books out there. I saw a list somewhere not long ago, probably in one of the Goodreads fantasy groups. I haven't read it yet, but I bought a copy of Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, which is supposed to be a good standalone fantasy novel.

Jeffrey Hazel

I am particularly suspectible to that problem of reading a good first novel then having to wait a long time for the second and third. Its especially troublesome when the series is longer than a trilogy or, as is the case now where the books are only HC. Jamie was in the good position of having all of the books out. I am usually not and I hate the reread thing.I have talked to authors out there and originally publishers wanted authors to write bigger books b/c fantasy and sf were not considered books that appealed to a large audience so to charge the huge fees, they wanted bigger fantasies to make the reading experience more -- like playing a video game -- dont want to little layers. Now you sometimes have large books meant to be a single book broken into two volumes for page requirements.

I frequently find that Hobbs stories seem to be very good in first book and peter out in subsequent novels.

Hazel Hi Jeffrey,
I suspected it might come down to money! I don't know much about the industry, myself, but it seems fantasy is popular now. Shouldn't there be room for variety?

Jeffrey I think there is variety but a lot of authors write large books -- in the epic fantasy area 500 to 800 page books are the rule, not the exception, but in the just regular fantasy -- urban fantasy, there are frequently less pages.

I agree with Jamie that making a new world up can consume lots of pages, but 10 years ago a lot of fantasy and sf came out as paperbacks. Now they are HC and publishers want 25-28 bucks a book. For some fantasy fans the extra pages means a book will be read over a few days -- making it more likely they are willing to spend the bucks over the paperback price, especially when the second book in a series is frequently 6-18 months away. It makes it much harder on the reader however who, unlike Jamie, is reading them when published. I have stopped reading and buying several books because what seemed like a trilogy some how got expanded to 5, 6 7 or 8 books. See Kate Eliot, see Janny Wurts, or have had a hard time getting myself to read the third book in a series where there is a huge wait -- b/c I do not want to re-read a 1000 pages of action so I can understand the next volume. See JV Jones last trilogy where I have bought the 3rd book but have not read it, or George Martin's series where there is a 5 year gap between books. There is no easy answers -- you either stick with people and hope the authors come out with new volumes in a reasonable amount of time or stop reading stories midway through. I find that I have gone both ways

Hazel Interesting. So the marketing idea is that readers will pay more for a bigger book, which feels like a more satisfying read. And I suppose if you hook them with a first book, you can then reel them in with three, or five, or twelve! I imagine some writers actually have an artistic vision of a sizeable story (epic proportions), or of a series. And more power to 'em. But how many do that really well, and are able to maintain the standard throughout the series?

I must take a look through my shelves and see how many trilogies I would give four/five stars collectively, rather than two/three by the second/third book. Jamie, you like trilogies. Which would you recommend?

Jeffrey You know I heard Christopher Stasfeff talk once and he wrote several novels that were unpublished and when the publisher said they were interested in a series he said -- here they are.

I also see often that the first book in what later becomes a series or trilogy is often, especially, for an author who does not have a track record is very much self contained ending at a logical point. If the novel sells well, the publisher might come back and say can you write a series or trilogy since the first was so successful.

I mean a publisher is probably not going to pop for a 3 book advance on an unknown author so fast.

message 10: by Hazel (last edited Dec 17, 2009 02:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hazel a publisher is probably not going to pop for a 3 book advance on an unknown author so fast

I suppose in any business, you have more freedom if you've already got a successful track record.

I haven't looked at my shelves yet, but the Engineer trilogy does come to mind as being of a high quality throughout. (Although I was tired of it: I'd read the first one thrice and the second one twice, by the time I read the third!) Any other suggestions?

Jeffrey Here below are some really good fantasy trilogies:

1. Time of the dark, Walls of Air, The armies of daylight by Barbara Hambly

2. Riddle Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind by Patricia McKillip

3. Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, Crown of Shadows by CS Friedman (dark fantasy)

4. The golden Compass, the Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (the first is the best)

5. Stormwarden, Keeper of the Keys, Shadowfane by Janny Wurts

These are all good self contained trilogies

Hazel Thanks very much, Jeffrey. I've liked some other Barbara Hambly books. Do you know The Ladies of Mandrigyn? I think that was first in a trilogy, but each book could be read separately. And of course I liked the Pullman trilogy. I thought it was far superior to Harry Potter. I'll look for the others.

Jeffrey Yes I read all of Hambly's early fantasies. THey are very good. Havent been a fan of her newer stuff.

I like the Pullman series but I thought that it got weaker as it went along, whereas I thought the Potter books got better as they went along.

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