Friday, March 4, 2016

Vikings, Telepathy, And Betrayal... Oh My

All those thing from the title and more can be found in Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy. This story follows Fitz, the bastard son of the king-in-waiting for the Six Duchies, as he literally grows up within the politics and intrigue of the royal court. Starting at the age of six in the first book Fitz is taken into the care of King Shrewd, trained as an assassin, fights head on and within the shadows against not only the viking like Red-Ship Raider but against the plotting of Prince Regal who wishes to have the crown for himself. And there's more. Far more than I wish to describe to you. But I will refrain from spoiling too much as I do describe a few aspects of this story that are worth noting for their brilliance within the story, the ability of Robin Hobb in crafting the story, and for their creativity within the fantasy genre itself.

A major draw for me with these books was the realism that Hobb creates with the main character. Fitz is a likable, nay lovable, character a true underdog if there ever was one and yet he reacts to the situations he is put or brought into in a way that is closer to how you or I might react instead of the typical protagonist of a fantasy story. Being the illegitimate son of the king-in-waiting you might think that, though people dislike him, that he rises to the challenge, triumphs over his enemies, and becomes the king that the Six Duchies needed all along. Instead Fitz is not only hated but is actively insulted and injured almost without reprieve or guilt in those that do it and all that Fitz does in revenge is take the punishment and try to live his life as best he can. Now lest we forget the titles of the books in this trilogy, Fitz is able to do survive (emphasis on survive) all of these things by being trained in the only skill useful to a bastard of the royal line: to be an assassin. Well having the Skill magic common to the royal line and the beast bonding magic known as the Wit also helps. 

Speaking of magic. Robin Hobb creates such unique magic systems in this trilogy and especially with the description of the Skill. Magic communication between minds is not new to fantasy but the unique way the Skill works is a lot closer to telepathy as it is most commonly seen in sci-fi or comic book stories. While still remaining mystical the Skill manifest in an assortment of ways in the books like: communicating mind to mind, seeing through another’s eyes even if they are miles away, controlling another person’s actions, making someone feel fear even if they are not afraid of a certain thing, making someone believe they cannot see you even if you are right in front of them, and even torturing and killing someone by the Skill alone. A very useful and diverse magic. The Wit magic, one that bonds a person to an animal, seems less unique to fantasy. Yet the way the Wit works, being similar to the Skill, and how Fitz uses them together to overcome his enemies is not only very fun to read but brings a refreshing and unique take on beast type magics.  

Unique weapon is unique. 
One final thing that this trilogy does that made it so enjoyable to read was it how it broke away from the conventional pattern found in a trilogy. In the first book (or movie) there are evil-bad guys (girls) and they must be stopped and for the most part they are. The second installment has the evil-bad guys (girls) come back and show just how big and bad they are leaving the good-right guys (girls) defeated and sad. Third act/book/movie shows the good-right guys (girls) rallying back and finally defeating those big, bad, evil people once and for all (unless there is a sequel series). That is not quite what happens in the Farseer Trilogy. Instead, though Fitz survives at the end of the first book, ultimately the whole thing still ends in favor of the villains. The second book actually has a lot more positive growth and positive encounters for Fitz up until the end, and in the third book though good triumphs over evil it does not happen until the very end. You are kept wondering the entire book if Fitz-and-gang are going to actually win or not. You even begin to believe, despite not wanting to, that they might not win at all. Even though the ending of each book follows the conventions of a three part story the whole of the trilogy does not and that’s the true beauty of what Hobb has written. She makes us believe the good guys won’t win and when they do it’s triumphant and fulfilling. There is no Deus ex Machina tomfoolery just the ultimate hope you have for Fitz, despite all Hobb does to try and destroy it, come roaring up from the dark pit of defeat into the full light of victory.

My final score for the Farseer trilogy is that it’s very good. A must read for any one whether you like fantasy or not.

Hope you enjoyed this book review there will be one up each week. If you would like to know more about the scoring method click here. If you enjoyed the review than share it with your many, many friend and talk about how much you want to read these books. And if you did not like this review than share it with your friends and mock it endlessly. Have a wonderful Friday. 


  1. Will have to give Robin Hobb's books to my list!

    1. Yes indeed! And then, like me, you can get swept up in the squeal trilogy.