Archive for Liveship Traders

Assassin’s fate [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , on February 3, 2018 by xi'an

I am afraid it is impossible to report on Assassin’s Fate without introducing spoilers, so would-be readers, be warned! The end of a long if enjoyable journey with FitzChivalry, the royal Assassin created by Robin Hobb two decades ago, in a book that brings together almost all characters she introduced in the five trilogies linking the Six Duchies, the Rain Wild, and beyond. Beyond the imperfections of some slow-pace sections and of the infuriating stubbornness of Fitz along with his righteousness at times, the conclusion of the book is stunning and perfectly closes the series, leaving the reader who has followed these characters for years and enjoyed the carefully constructed universe behind them, as well as the psychological depth of most of them, with a peaceful and bittersweet sadness. Never have so many owed so much to so few, some would add about Fitz, The Fool and Bee, given the upheaval they bring to this whole universe, impacting first and foremost the Liveship traders… In my opinion, the saga of FitzChivalry that concludes with this book stands among the most realised and elaborated ones in fantasy, primarily for its highly attaching (and far from heroic) characters. Who definitely belong to a pantheon of fantasy characters that one remembers along the years, even with long interruptions.

Fool’s Assassin

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , on April 11, 2015 by xi'an

When I learned that Robin Hobb had started a new Assassin’s trilogy, Fitz and the Fool, I got a bit wary, given the poor sequel to the Liveship Traders trilogy I read in the hospital two years ago, and the imperfect Soldier Son trilogy… But also excited, for The Farseer Trilogy is one of the best fantasy series ever! Now that I have read Fool’s Assassin, the first volume of the trilogy, I can only wait for the second one, Fool’s Quest, to appear next summer.  Unsurprisingly, reconnecting with the universe of The Farseer Trilogy is almost enough per se to make reading this book a pleasure, even though it seems to draw too much from the past volumes to gain independent praise, except in the accelerating final chapters. The style conveys too much the homely feeling of Fitz as a retired country squire, surrounded by family and friends. There is obviously a new plot, a new danger to the Six Duchies, and new characters, one of which is singularly attaching!, while Fitz remains as obtuse and whining as in earlier volumes (which is a joy to behold once again!). So now that the setting has been painstakingly and that the game is afoot, I hope the second volume will keep up with the pace of the final chapters… (Nice cover by the way if unrelated to the contents of the book, apart from the snow!)

hospital reads

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2013 by xi'an

While stuck under a heating lamp for about two weeks, I read a series of books, for various reasons. Here are a few comments on this haphazard collection.

I bought the Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe in 2001 in Roma and never managed to move into the novel. This time I did finish the book, thanks to those extreme conditions. I remember picking the book for it being a reference in gothic novels (after enjoying much a book like Uncle Silas). However, I find the book caricaturesque to the extreme and without much to commend it, neither for its style nor for its plot. For one thing, it took me quite a while to realise the time of the nnovel was in the 1500’s, so replete is the book with anachronisms. If you excuse me the spoiler, everything supernatural is eventually explained by natural reasons, often ludicrous. Important family connections are omitted till the final pages to allow for suspense to build, rescues of the main heroin come in rather unbelievable circumstances, &tc. This is an interesting entry into the excesses of the genre, nothing more. (The attached cover of my Penguin edition reminds much more of the Marseille calanques than of the scenes depicted by Radcliffe.)

A second book that was brought to me by a friend here is a Lee Child’s novel called Worth dying for, that I read within a few hours. The book is extremely efficient and gripping even though the plot is a bit predictable (with some links to Reamde!), the characters often roughly defined and the overall ethics of cold blooded elimination (versus delivery to justice/police) of all the bad guys difficult to agree with. There are also weaknesses in the plot, e.g. when the superhero lets himself be captured by the dumb college footballers… It made me pass a quick afternoon though, away from my sickbed. I might even read another one in the Jack Reacher series next time I am hospitalised!

Another chance read is Robin Hobb’s Dragon Keeper: a doctor at the hospital noticed I was reading books in English and brought me this one the very next day. Again a book I read within the day. Overall, the book is a sequel to the Liveship Traders trilogy and, as such, it is recycling the same universe, rules and issues. An interesting extension but with clear weaknesses. For one thing, the #2 heroin, Alise, is not very credible in this first volume (and very dumb for missing the homosexual relation between her husband and his secretary). The #1 heroin, Thymara, is not much more complex. Now, I may read both next volumes if the doctor brings them to me before I leave the hospital in a few thousand days (!), but this certainly stands below Hobb’s masterpiece of The Farseer Trilogy.