Assassin's Quest

Fans of Robin Hobb's Assassin series already know that they are in for an emotional roller coaster, but Assassin's Quest in particular is very difficult to read. All of the supporting characters that Fitz loved and trusted have been wrested away from him by one manner of disaster or another. Those whose lives have included periods of major depression will recognize the symptoms and the self-destructive impulses. This is not a book for the emotionally fragile, but then, if you are still reading the series by this point it should be obvious. In a way, the book is noteworthy for that quality in itself: rarely does an author bring their main character so low and portray the results with such unsympathetic clarity.

Anyone who has been reading the books hoping desperately for a happy ending is unlikely to be satisfied, and I was personally somewhat disappointed by the deus ex machina quality.

Overall, it's a different sort of book. The saying is that the point of a story is the journey rather than the destination; this book is a perfect example and perfect counterexample in one. Reaching the destination is unlikely to make the reader particularly happy, but does bring a sort of catharsis; and anyone who can reach the end of the book without feeling strongly for the characters is probably a sociopath.

Probably not a good book for moody teenagers.

Categories Robin Hobb

Fri May 09 13:52:21 CDT 2014 by Matthew. Comments

Ship of Magic

Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders series opens with this book, Ship of Magic. Once again the author provides an unusual and emotional story. Readers already familiar with the Royal Assassin series will recognize the world, but the areas we know well are distant places while those we see up close are new and fresh. With one significant exception, the level of magic has been dramatically reduced from the earlier trilogy, and the result is a human tale of desperation rather than a fantasy adventure on the high seas.

The book is set in a community of sailors and shipwrights. The ships they build there are called liveships, crafted by human hands from special wood, their figureheads magically animated with spirit and personally, and bonded to a human being, the ships can't quite sail themselves but have a powerful influence on what happens to their crew nonetheless.

The heroine Althea in Ship of Magic stands to inherit her father's shipping business, along with the liveship Vivacia, which has been under construction for years and will take even more years to pay off -- but an untimely death changes everyone's plans. Surrounded by economic threats rather than the usual evil swordsmen or beastial creatures, she must struggle to keep her family's business alive while dealing with events that shattered all of her expectations for the future.

It's a situation that calls for desperate actions and high risks. Althea may not carry a sword or wield powerful magic, but she has wits, skills, and determination that may well be her salvation.

Categories Robin Hobb

Wed Aug 21 10:35:20 CDT 2013 by Matthew. Comments

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