Robin Hobb

Erin McMullin erm8 at
Thu Apr 5 16:33:24 EDT 2001

Ven wrote:
>This trilogy follows on from the earlier Farseer or Assassin series
insofar as 
>they share a world and some common history. however like Steven 
>Brust she modifies her style between them to take account of the 
>very different societies involved. The earlier is, to appearances, set 
>firmly in the  medievalish corner of fantasyland  and concerns the 
>genre staple plot of a country and monarchy beset by both 
>enemies and an inexplicable loss of their magical virtues. 

Very true.  I wasn't expecting the two series to be set in the same world
as each other, and didn't really put it together until they mentioned the
Six Duchies.  The two settings seemed so different from each other, which I
suppose they would be given a world where travel and communication is
difficult and slow.  I was surprised that Six Duchies, Jamal(? - sorry,
it's been a few months) and Bingtown all spoke the same language...

>there's more going on, as Erin says the characters are way above 
>averagely interesting, their dilemmas genuinely moving and behind 
>all that is the slightest suspicion that its not so mainstream genre 
>fantasy after all. 

Not only that, the whole magic theme is very complicated, and nothing comes
free.  The magical boats in the Liveship books seem wonderful, the perfect
magical servants of mankind, and then later you find out how very wrong
that human bias is.  And then there are the dragons of the Six Duchies and
how they come to be....

>I didn't enjoy Ship of Destiny much at first. The heroine was 
>"obviously one of those know it all types, who is always right, and 
>unjustly persecuted by those in authority over her". Then I realised 
>that we weren't supposed to think she was right, even though what 
>was happening was wrong.  

She was annoying and obnoxious, spoiled and naive.  But young, headstrong,
and intelligent.  And then you get to see over the course of the three
books how she changes and grows from a cocky adolescent into a mature, less
than perfect but entirely human adult.

>The device of using contrasting styles and the different 
>point of view employed (the Farseer books are told in the first 
>person and the Liveships have multiple POV) means that you do 
>not always recognise places, persons or events that you have in 
>fact encountered before. It was a great moment when I got round to 
>comparing maps and realised that the source of the mysterious 
>Rain Wild's River was somewhere in the mountains where Verity 
>was carving his dragon. 

I was reading library books, and didn't have both maps to compare, though I
really wanted to!  The third Liveship book, though, does give clues that
they might be near each other, but seen from two very different
perspectives.  It's like R.Hobbs actually has the whole place, culture,
characters in her head, and is just letting us look in on it through
various windows.  JUST like the feeling I get when reading a DWJ book -
that really the whole thing is quite obvious in her head, a complete world
that she is just sitting down to tell us about... I think she actually said
something like that at one points?? (bad memory)

>I guess that Fitz will be compelled from  his self 
>imposed exile. I assume there are further revelations about the 
>nature of the world, its inhabitants and its history. I think its going 
>to have something to do with that very high technology that is 
>indistingushable from magic. Can't wait. 

So very very true, but then there is the dilemma of having to wait between
books.  Do I read the first of the series as soon as it's available, and
then wait, biting my nails, for the next?  Or do I exercise extreme self
control, wait for all three to be finished, and then read them one after
the other?  I could always re-read the first six while I wait....

I'm glad you enjoyed the first two trilogies.  I was so very impressed by
the thought and care that went in to them - true quality - that I've told
everyone who might be even the least interested about them.... I want all
my friends to share the pleasure of reading those books (and to see what
truly good fiction writing can be)

~ erin
Dept. of Biology
Penn State University
208 Mueller Lab
University Park, PA  16802
phone: (814) 863-8360
fax: (814) 865-9131
email: erm8 at
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