Werthead

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

147 posts in this topic

I read Liveships about ten years after I read Farseer, so really I can't compare the two given that my memories of Farseer were quite vague beyond remembering that I liked it.  Embarrassingly, I even failed to pick up on Liveship's biggest connection to Farseer until after the fact. 

Anyways, I've since read the first Tawny Man volume, which was good, although it didn't grab me as much as Liveships.  I won't go so far as to call Fitz annoying or unlikeable, but I will say spending a whole book in his perspective just didn't interest me as much as the rotating POVs from Liveships.  Not yet sure if I'm up for five more books of Fitz and the Fool, especially since I'm a bit burned out on long series at the moment. 

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4 hours ago, Buckwheat said:

I have no idea what you are talking about.

Althea is much more likable than Fitzy, at least to me.

But she's so dull. Characters should be interesting. Liveship is nowhere near that level of engaging.

Farseer/Tawny Man has so many interesting characters. Fitz, The Fool, Molly, Burrich, Regal, Galen, Verity, the mysteryious Chivalry, Chade, the old king Shrewd even. The wonderful animal characters.

Liveship........ didn't find any of that. So I guess, different things float the boat for different people.

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I hate to be that person but I'm wondering if the gender of the vast majority of characters in Liveships is why you were bored by them.

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52 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I hate to be that person but I'm wondering if the gender of the vast majority of characters in Liveships is why you were bored by them.

It's ok I was kinda wondering the same thing. 

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1 hour ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I hate to be that person but I'm wondering if the gender of the vast majority of characters in Liveships is why you were bored by them.

Well I've read better female fiction characters than the ones in Liveship, let me say that, and I'll add that I mentioned that I also did not like the male characters in Liveship. But certainly when it comes to reading a book I prefer male lead characters, that will not be news.

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So yes but no but yes?

i have honestly til now never heard someone say they love Liveships less than the original. It's a bit like someone saying they think a new hope is better than empire strikes back, but this whole thread is baffling.

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On ‎2‎-‎9‎-‎2016 at 10:44 AM, Calibandar said:

The characters in Liveship are just so dull, it never comes alive in anywhere near the same manner as the Fitz books.

It's a huge difference in characterisation quality actually. Althea and her husband, Malta, Brashen, not one thing appealed to me about that group. I did like Liveship Paragon.

:blink:

Liveship's main cast was, to me and many others it seems, twice as vibrant and original as Farseer's. It's one of the most well-realized ensemble I've encountered in fiction, and quite possibly my favorite one. I don't understand how anyone could find them remotely dull. They practically explode out of the pages.

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14 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

So yes but no but yes?

i have honestly til now never heard someone say they love Liveships less than the original. It's a bit like someone saying they think a new hope is better than empire strikes back, but this whole thread is baffling.

To be honest the love for Liveship is something that quite baffles me on this forum.

Back when I was posting on the Robin Hobb messageboard, 10-12 years ago, there was actually a big gap between Farseer and Liveship fans. Yes, there were a few Hobb fans who liked all of her work, including Soldier Son. There were also fans who liked Liveship better than Farseer/Tawny Man, as we have them in this thread. But there were also many people who preferred the Fitz books over the 3 Liveship books, and I saw this at for instance Sffworld as well, Farseer was definitely the more popular series there.

They are two very different series as well I feel. Cast of characters is just very different, and the story in Liveship also not nearly as good. The parts with the sea worms were the most interesting, but the men and women in Liveship left me completely cold. But maybe I should give it another chance.

So no, not really comparable to A new Hope being better than ESB ;)

 

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90% of Hobb fans on a Hobb board would naturally be Farseer fans, not because it's representative, but just because that's what the popularity of the books is roughly. Everyone knows The Farseer, Liveship is a lot less known. Doesn't mean it's not infinitely better.

It's funny because the words you're using for Liveship describe the Farseer so well. The characters are just... dull, indeed. The only developed ones are maybe Fitz (but he's an annoying whinny teenager in the body of an adult, yes I'm talking about The Tawny Man), the Fool (but in that unbearable mysterious vibe of "yes, I'm weird, I do weird things, you don't understand me, but that's fine, it's meant to be cool") and What's-his-name-I-mean-Fitz's-surrogate-father (but the character was utterly destroyed with that horrible soap opera triangle bullshit with Molly and Fitz). The others are non existent, and the fact that you only have one PoV (of an annoying character) is a nightmare. You can't even breathe fresh air.

Edited by Pliskin

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21 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Eh, pretty sure the Liveships books outsold the farseer trilogy. 

Huh, seriously? Well, that's a good thing.

The Farseer is a pretty well known institution in my country (when it comes to Fantasy), the Liveship not so much.

EDIT: Are you sure? That's not what I get here when typing Robin Hobb: http://www.salesrankexpress.com/ (as skewed as these numbers may be).

Edited by Pliskin

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3 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

I'm pretty sure but  not sure where to find reliable sajes data these days, wert would probaly know.

Author sales data is available but by book/series? Not so much. From what I understand sales of the series jumped up with every book and trilogy, but went down for Soldier Son (as a different world) but then jumped up again with Rain Wild. Farseer probably has sold marginally more than Liveship, but only because it's been out a little longer.

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I agree with a lot of the critique in this thread of Hobb's world building, but man can she stick an ending like no one else. 

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I totally agree that Liveships books has a more compelling cast of characters than Farseer... But there is FitzChivalry Farseer and the Fool and they just about trumps most fantasy characters for me..

I find that people who are emotionally attached to these characters (like myself) are not reasonable in discussion about the merits or lack thereof..

 

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The Farseer Trilogy #2: Royal Assassin

Winter has fallen, bringing a brief respite from the depredations of the Red Ship Raiders. Fitz, returning to Buckkeep from the Mountain Kingdom, finds Prince Verity working hard to build ships and watchtowers to defend the coast, but everywhere the conniving Prince Regal is working to undermine his brother and pave his own way to the throne. When Verity embarks on an ill-advised quest to help save his kingdom, it falls to Fitz to try to hold everything together in his absence.

The middle volume of The Farseer Trilogy is Robin Hobb's attempt to avoid "middle book syndrome", that annoying situation where a book has no real opening or ending. As such, Royal Assassin tries to work as its own self-contained story in the structure of both the larger trilogy and the much larger Realm of the Elderling sequence beyond that.

In this endeavour, the author is mostly successful. Royal Assassin continues the storyline of Assassin's Apprentice, with FitzChivalry Farseer trying to overcome his status as the illegitimate son of a dead prince and a secret assassin to become a respected member of the court. He hopes to woo his childhood love, but King Shrewd wants him to marry for political advantage instead. Regal hopes to undermine and destroy Fitz, but Fitz's willingness to lead from the front and throw himself into battle against the Red Ship Raiders stymies him, as do Fitz's growing magical powers (in both the animalistic Wit and the telepathic Skill) and his canny support of Verity's bride, the Queen-in-Waiting Kettricken. Events boil over at the book's ending, which features a powerfully emotional moment of catharsis (arguably still the highlight of the entire sixteen-volume Elderling series to date) and setting the scene for the final confrontation in Assassin's Quest.

Hobb's facility with prose is enviable, creating a rich and engrossing fantasy world. Things may not move too far from the medieval fantasy norm and some of the worldbuilding doesn't entirely ring true (such as the vast size of the Six Duchies but the tiny size of its settlements and its apparently extremely low population), but for the most part the world of the Six Duchies is vividly and memorably portrayed. Her facility for characterisation also remains intact, with Kettricken, Patience, Burrich, Molly and Nighteyes all being well-drawn and convincing characters as well as Fitz himself.

Fitz has always been a problem for some readers, especially since the trilogy is told in the first person from his perspective. In the first volume Fitz was a little too passive and reactive and that problem persists into this second volume. However, in the latter half of Royal Assassin he does become more proactive in opposing Regal's plans. He even engages in some very mild political intrigue. It's no A Game of Thrones, but it does up the stakes a little at a key moment of the story.

Some of Hobb's key weaknesses as a writer do re-emerge in this volume, however. Her ability to conjure up the unfairness of life and the mountain of problems Fitz must struggle to overcome is remarkable, but there is also chapter after chapter where Fitz stews in the alleged utter misery of his life - as a favoured servant and assassin with a cool telepathic wolf companion and a beautiful, strong-willed girlfriend who loves him absolutely - whilst not really doing anything. It's still not as much of a problem as in later novels, but there is an interminable middle section to the novel and it feels like a comfortable 200 pages could have been shaved off the page count (already approaching twice the length of Assassin's Apprentice) without too much trouble.

Royal Assassin (****) is a bigger novel than its forebear and one with more political intrigue and action, at land and at sea. However, it's also overlong and suffers the same issues as its forebear but stretched over a longer page count: a plot that kicks into gear only intermittently and a protagonist too reactive for his own good. But Hobb's skills with character and emotion, and evoking her world in rich detail, continue to prove remarkable. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.

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On September 3, 2016 at 7:07 PM, unJon said:

I agree with a lot of the critique in this thread of Hobb's world building, but man can she stick an ending like no one else. 

Really? It was the ending of the Assassin trilogy that turned me off from reading any more Hobb (that, and the overly emo reader manipulation). 

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On 9/3/2016 at 0:24 PM, Calibandar said:

 there were a few Hobb fans who liked all of her work, including Soldier Son.

 

Pics or it didn't happen. :D

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