Friday, 18 September 2015

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb reviewed by Karen bush

Hurrah! Another instalment of the latest Robin Hobb trilogy - she has left the Dragon Keepers and returned once again to the Six Duchies, and answered the 'what happened next' questions that dangled at the end of the Golden Fool trilogy - and a few that were posed by the return of the dragons. Let's face it, dragons aren't ever going to be easy neighbours and it's inevitable that there is going to be friction between humans cross about their carefully nurtured herds being depredated and the flying lizards who quite simply, don't give a fig what the humans think ...
As for poor old Fitz, he got his happy ever after ending with Molly, but in the course of the first book, it - again - inevitably doesn't last. I never found Molly a particularly sympathetic character in the earlier books, but in this trilogy have found a fondness for her which I suspect will make me like her more when I re-read the first books. And I was actually saddened by her departure from the books (although it was necessary to clear the decks for the plot to proceed) but at least it was, as they say, a good end. Meanwhile, Fitz for all of his assassin-skills, continues to be as thick as ever, never noticing the resemblance between his daughter and his childhood friend the Fool ... but it is on the whole endearing rather than irritating although occasionally you do feel like boxing his ears.
If you are new to Robin Hobb, you are probably baffled by this review so far, but I don't want to give the plot away so will simply say - go and read the first book, Assassin's Apprentice. If you like fantasy you will probably love it - and there will then be a treat in store as these books form a trilogy of trilogies - The Farseer books, The Liveship Traders books, The Tawny Man books - plus there are four Rain Wild chronicle books which take up events after the dragons have been found, a prequel novella about the Piebald Prince - and now, oh joy, the Fitz and Fool trilogy. And Robin Hobb is pretty good at getting her books out without ridiculous gaps of years between them like GRR Martin or Patrick Rothfuss, so by the time you have worked your way through to this one the last of the trilogy should be out!
If you have been on every step of the journey so far, this latest book won't disappoint. Some folk complain that Hobb's books tend to plod, but I've never found that. They move at a realistic pace, don't exhaust or string out your sense of disbelief by throwing a scrimmage in on every other page: they are a satisfying feast and whenever I turn the last page it is invariably with a sigh at having to return to real life. They are amazingly immersive, and leave you with a feeling of really knowing the places and people as though they were real. Worth every penny.