Wastrel's Reviews > The Golden Fool

The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
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's review
Aug 27, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: r-ss, z-2002, fantastika-fantasy-saga

It's hard to be objective, because this is one of my favourite books of all time. After seven volumes, we're now so deeply into the mind of FitzChivalry Farseer that it feels like a second home, and while some may complain that nothing whatsoever happens in this book (they'd be wrong - a lot happens in this book, there just isn't really a plot), I rejoiced in being given the time and space to see more of Fitz dealing with ordinary life. Hobb's great stylistic strength might be the way that she takes often quite cliche and uninteresting fantasy tropes and revitalises them, by showing what they mean for real people - what motivates the tropes, and what their consequences are.

This is also that very rare thing, a grown-up fantasy novel, by grown-ups, about grown-ups, and to a larger extent for grown-ups, as the middle-aged Fitz looks on upon the foolish actions of younger characters (and it's great to see parental concern, one of life's greatest motivating forces, take centre stage in a fantasy novel, rather than romantic love, or adventure, or glory), and looks back upon his own youthful follies. But just as the young Fitz made a lot of mistakes, so too perhaps do the two middle-aged Fitzes (both the Fitz who is a character in the novel and the later Fitz who acts as the narrator) - but this flawed narrator is nothing more than an extension of the flawing, the humanity, of all the characters.

I'm not going to go on at too much length. I suppose to sum it up, I would say: this is a great fantasy novel about relationships and psychology and growing older; it also has a surprising amount of dramatic tension, not only around the relationship developments but also around the inchoate heroic plotline that will take over in the final volume of the trilogy; it is, however, rather formless, with a lot of parallel plot strands but no overall arc, and consequently the emotional pacing is lacking and there is no fulfilling climax (or there is, or are, but it or they are long before the end); it definitely benefits from the reader having read The Liveship Traders as well as The Farseer Trilogy; if you don't like Fitz, you won't like this book; if you love Fitz, hopefully you'll love this book.

I go on (and on) at greater length about the book over on my blog, HERE.
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Reading Progress

August 27, 2011 – Shelved
January 17, 2013 –
page 325
January 21, 2013 –
page 523
January 22, 2013 –
page 600
Started Reading
January 29, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Katie (new)

Katie Is The Farseer Trilogy the best place to start with Robin Hobb?

Wastrel Katie wrote: "Is The Farseer Trilogy the best place to start with Robin Hobb?"

I just wrote a massive big post answering that question in depth and giving reasons why you should or shouldn't read Hobb (short version: you should), but I'll just cut to the chase (when I describe things in more depth, I'm always paranoid that I'm either over-selling or under-selling the book).

So: yes, Farseer is the best place to start.

I think the trilogy gets better as you go along, so don't drop it after fifty pages if you don't like it - try at least the first book.

Then, if you really can't stand it (most common complaint is that some readers hate the main character; most seem to love him), I'd say give The Liveship Traders a chance instead. It's better read after Farseer because there are a few backstory issues - but if you're not going to read Farseer, it's doable to just read Liveships by itself. It's quite different, so might be enjoyable even if you don't like Farseer (and I think on a literary level it's actually better, but less immediately likeable). But I'm optimistic that you'll enjoy Farseer - it's pretty approachable, if you're into Fantasy.

Now go get Assassin's Apprentice and enjoy!

[I see you enjoyed A Song of Ice and Fire; you should enjoy Hobb. She's quite like GRRM, only emphasising the smaller scale (fewer battles, more talking about feelings). And GRRM tries to be grey by showing that the heroes are dark and the villains are touched by flecks of light; Hobb is grey by showing that both the heroes and the villains are ordinary people.
Unless that description is off-putting, in which case she's not like that at all, honestly.]

message 3: by Katie (new)

Katie Good to know! I skimmed over your blog review but I didn't want to look to closely in case there were some spoilers.

And ha! No worries, that description sounded pretty likable. I'll give it a go soon.

message 4: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy *Potential spoilers*

Anybody who says nothing happens in this book must not like the Fool very much. I re-read that part so many times each time I read the series hoping to El or Eda that Fitz wasn't such an Ass. :(

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