Review: Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 4 of my reread of Robin Hobb’s books before Assassin’s Fate comes out. I’m not doing as well on this personal challenge as I had hoped, considering I still have quite a few left to read. Ship of Magic was one of the ones that I had read previously, even if it had been a long time ago. Ship of Magic taught me more about sex then my sex ed class ever did. My book horizons have expanded since then. It was good to get caught up on this again, especially since the next one promises closure to the stories of Vivacia and Paragon.

Setting/Worldbuilding: 9/10

There are a lot of scenes that take place on some sort of ship, which is good, because when we are on the ship, I actually feel like I’m there. Unfortunately, when they get to port, I don’t really get much of a feeling for where they are at all. Perhaps it’s a device to help express the life of a sailor, because there is not much to distinguish one port from the next, but after detailed descriptions of the Six Duchies, I was expecting a little more.

On the other hand, while the physical setting is not as detailed as I would like it to be, the world building is phenomenal. There’s enough to keep you wondering about what exactly the Rain Wild Traders and the Bingtown Traders are hiding from the rest of the world, but enough to let you know exactly where all the characters stand in relation to each othe. I find it amusing that Bingtown finds the Six Duchies to be barbarians and backwards when from a modern standpoint, in relation to the women, we would find the Six Duchies to be much more progressive.

Plot/Pacing: 8/10

Like many fantasy novels, the plot sort of meanders along, following different threads til they suddenly come together shortly before the end. But, because we have so many different characters, and because Robin Hobb excels at characterization, the long stretches of character development and worldbuilding are not only bearable, they are actually entertaining. Not all fantasy novels manage to take that slow pace without the risk of losing interest, but Robin Hobb manages quite well.

Characters: 10/10

Robin Hobb excels at characterization, and this is the first book in The Realm of the Elderlings that highlights that fact. Instead of focusing on a singular protagonist like in the Farseer Trilogy, she expands to an assortment of POV characters. Not only does this keep the action sharp by following around different characters in parts that could have dragged the story down, it also allows her to show off her characterization skills.

The female characters are the real highlight. From Althea to Etta to Malta to Ronica each one of them is unique and serves the plot directly rather than simply being a plot device like so many other narratives. Despite the views of the society they live in, none of the plot would be happening if it were not for the female characters.

Althea: I believe Althea is supposed to be considered the main protagonist, even though this is an ensemble piece, considering that she is featured on my hardback cover. I like that she grows throughout the series, that she starts thinking that everything is owed to her and then she realizes that she actually has to earn it. My heart did break for her when Ophelia said the liveships would have sided with her against Kyle if she would have gone to them in the beginning, especially considering Vivacia’s fate.

Malta: I’m having a hard time reconciling the headstrong and ignorant Malta from this book from the one I grew to know first in the Rain Wild Chronicles. I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops over the next two books.

Etta: I love her. I love that she so easily takes over the ship once Kennit takes her on board, and that she doesn’t appear to be afraid of anything. The only thing I don’t like about her is that she’s getting jealous of the ship. It’s just a ship, girl. Relax. Your boyfriend is not quite as amazing as you think he is anyway, and you’re probably just better off taking over your own pirate ship.

Wintrow: If you want to talk about a broken heart, though, just think about poor Wintrow. Poor boy, just wants to live his life and his father just shoves him into another position. Just another example of how the patriarchy hurts more than just women.

Kyle: Hey, Kyle, did you perhaps ever mentor a young boy named Hest? Does the timeline work out for this? Because I feel that they went to the same school of douchery, or are related, or Kyle mentored him or something because Hest definitely feels like a Kyle Haven 2.0.

Brashen: Love interest? I don’t know. I have a vague feeling that I liked him more in the second book.

Kennit: I love Kennit, mostly because he’s such a well written villain. He keeps thinking that he has all these evil plots, but every time it “backfires” and makes him look like a hero. That fact that he keeps getting confused by it makes the whole situation better.

Overview: 10/10

It’s been fun rereading The Realm of the Elderlings from the beginning again. I know how a few things turn out, but it’s been interesting to see what I remember (not much) and to see what I’ve forgotten. As it turns out, I’ve forgotten most of this trilogy and given that it seems to be coming back, it’s probably good that I’m doing my reread now. It also reminded me that Robin Hobb seems to be very fond of the (view spoiler)

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Royal Assassin Chapter 1 Siltbay Review

royal-assassin

The continuing adventures of Wolfboy and the Cinnamon Roll.

Speaking of dreaming, in the first official chapter, Wolfboy is dreaming that he’s King Spider.  King Spider, who actually is getting old, and actually has real complaints but still worries about his people more than his own health.  He also gets a glimpse into the King’s magic, and is forced to watch a raid on one of his shores.  Unfortunately for Wolfboy, it turns out Princess Unattainabelle is in that village while it’s being raided, and he sees her clearly in the wreckage.  The vision ends before he can see whether or not she is alive.

Having decided that perhaps his current predicament is not so bad as being old, Wolfboy decides to return to the castle with the Cinnamon Roll, desperate to learn the true fate of Princess Unattainabelle.

Royal Assassin – Prologue Review

royal-assassin

The continuing adventures of Wolfboy and the Cinnamon Roll.

We start out a few months after Prince Jackass attempted to murder Wolfboy and Cinnamon Roll and successfully murdered a few other people, all while trying to block his brother’s wedding to the Viking Queen in an effort to be King in Waiting himself.  Wolfboy and Cinnamon Roll are still recovering in the mountain kingdom, and Wolfboy is having a hard time of it.  He’s going through an existential crisis thinking nothing he can do nothing because he is a cripple now and that Prince Jackass has already won.   The Cinnamon Roll remains a cinnamon roll, but there is nothing he can do for Wolfboy.  Wolfboy insists that if he wants to continue to serve him, the only way he can do so is to go back to Buckkeep without him.

I have a feeling Wolfboy is dreaming if he thinks for a second that Cinnamon Roll is going to leave him behind.

Review: Blood of Dragons

Blood of Dragons
Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s time for complete honesty. If given the chance, I would have read a single book about Sedric and Carson instead of the four books with all the other characters. It’s not that I don’t like the other characters. I do. I just would not have enjoyed the series as much if Sedric and Carson were not involved or if Sedric’s story had gone in a different direction. I have headcanons to fill in the gaps in their story. Headcanons that I give far too much time to when there are other things I could be doing. I guess what I’m saying is, Robin Hobb, I want more Sedric and Carson. Unless “more” entails the two of them breaking up, at which point you can keep it to yourself.

Now that everyone knows where my priorities lie, I can review the rest of the book. Blood of Dragons was a fantastic conclusion to a series that renewed my faith in the fantasy genre. I was starting to worry that I had read all the good fantasy books and nothing else good will come around. Then I discovered this series at the library. Since I had enjoyed Hobb’s Liveship Traders, I decided to give this one a chance. This is one book decision I have never regretted.

Though we still have an overabundance of character pov that carries over from City of Dragons, this book does not suffer from the same pacing problems. The only issue I had with the pov in this book was we switch over to Carson exactly once. I know, I said Sedric and Carson were the best bits, so you think that would make me happy. Except it added nothing to the book that we didn’t know. The scene would have worked the same from Sedric’s pov, and we would have lost nothing. The reason why it was so disappointing is because Carson is so inscrutable some times to readers, I was looking forward to getting inside his head to see what makes him tick. But we didn’t learn anything knew about him that we couldn’t already infer from Sedric, so all it did was add an extra pov character.

For the conclusion to a series, it wrapped everything up in a nice package, if not always in the manner I would have preferred. One character’s end disappointed me, but it was still well written. Blood of Dragons is the best conclusion possible to a worthwhile series. Definitely check this one out if you get the chance.

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<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11801463&#8243; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img src=”http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1322613975m/11801463.jpg&#8221; border=”0″ alt=”City of Dragons” /></a>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11801463″>City of Dragons</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/25307″>Robin Hobb</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/853667594″>4 of 5 stars</a>
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<i>City of Dragons</i> is the weak link in the otherwise fantastic <i>Rain Wild Chronicles</i>.  It suffers from weak pacing and a short length, but is easily forgiven by the strengths of the other books and the inclusion of Sedric and Carson.  At the time of this review, I have already finished <i>Blood of Dragons</i>, but I’ll keep my knowledge of that book from coloring my perception of this book.

Let’s get the pacing issues out of the way because I love this series and want to forget about the negative aspects as soon as possible.  This book is short for both the series and fantasy novels in general, a full hundred pages shorter than the final book.  The length is not a problem on its own, but it’s compounded by too many perspectives.  In this book we get to hop in the heads of Hest, Sedric, Alise, Leftrin, Tats, Thymara, Malta, Selden and the Duke of Chalced.  This averages out to about 36 pages dedicated to each character’s perspective.  At this point you might as well be reading a collection of interrelated short stories. Most of the characters are in different physical locations, so the story crawls along.   At least it seems to push them all together for the final book.  The pacing problem would have been enough to drag this book down to a three for me had it not been for Sedric and Carson.

In a mainstream fantasy book, it is so rare to have a homosexual couple whose major purpose seems for them to be the well-adjusted couple of the group that I forgive any other issues I have with the relationship.   Most of their relationship development happened off page and every time they had even the tiniest squabble they had resolved it by the next time we saw them.  Yet, we rarely get happy, well-adjusted gay couples in mainstream fantasy who don’t die.  If anyone has book recommendations that meet the above requirements, please send them my way.  I would love for nothing more than to read them too.

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