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on 4 November 2001
This book will leave you begging for more. From the first pages of the first Farseer series I was well and truly hooked. Hobb's writing style, putting the whole story in the first person, we see what he sees and little else, makes it all the more personal, and captivating.
At the end of the first series I was left hanging, and this book was a great comeback to something that many may have left for dead.
Though some may say it is a little long until it gets back into Fitz' court life, it is still captivating and i cannot wait until the next installment. It is definitly a great read, so long as you understand what occured in the first series.
The book very clevely covers the passage of fifteen years since the Red Ship wars (1st series), she does not just blurt out what happened in those years and leav it, she tells it succinctly but references do crop up throughout the book, she makes it important thet people have changed, especially the Fool, who has changed dramatically but beneath it all he is still the Fool, an enigmatic but terribly likeable character.
Though not as fast paced as the first series, it is still a captivating read. And it is important to have read the first series first, it explains a lot about all the characters.
Altogether a well deserved five stars, and we can but hope that this trend continues throughout her work. I wonder if she'll add to the Liveship Traders series next (though not quite as brilliant, still well worth reading)
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on 27 October 2002
Robin Hobb (Megan Lindholm) has attracted quite a devoted audience with her last two sets of books, the Farseer 'Assassin' trilogy and the Live Ship Trader series, and with good reason, as these are fantasies of quite a different stripe from the normal and told with power, wit, and depth. While not absolutely necessary to enjoying this book, as there are enough explanatory sections here to catch the gist of the action of the prior books, I do recommend that you read the Assassin trilogy first, as it will not only provide the reader with all the past action, it will give you a fine benchmark of the how the characters were at the time of those books, allowing you to easily see the changes that time has wrought.
This book picks up 15 years after the ending of the Farseer set, with FitzChivalry Farseer and his Wit bond-mate wolf Nighteyes leading a quiet life as a farmer trying to raise his adopted son Hap, carefully avoiding any traffic with his former life of intrigue as a royal assassin. This early section of the book is remarkable for how strong the character development is, even though there is almost no action during this portion, showing a much more mature Fitz who has almost come to terms with the sacrifices he was required to make in the earlier books. Of course, this idyllic setting can't last, as first his former mentor Chade arrives for a visit to try and convince Fitz to return to service at Buckkeep Castle, followed by the very enigmatic Fool, now known as Lord Golden, and finally is convinced to return to Buckkeep by a summons from Chade to help find Prince Dutiful, Fitz's son by body, but not by himself as a person, who has either been kidnapped or run away.
Thus the action is enjoined, leading Fitz not just away from his farm, but into consideration of the whys and needs of both his Wit and Skill abilities. A set of considerations that have relevance for everyone, questions on should you lead if you can, can you let a social injustice continue when you have the means and ability to do something about it, about the importance of life and the time to properly allow death to reign, the strength of personal relationships and what is owed to friends, where the responsibilities of a parent begin and end. Throughout, Fitz, Nighteyes, and the Fool continue to grow as characters, till you feel that these are people you know, have lived, ached, lost and triumphed with.
Hobb's descriptive powers are well in evidence here, and her characters are neatly folded into her imagined universe, that includes not just the world of Wit and Skill of the Assassin works but also is explicitly tied to her Live Ship set, though that tie, so far, is only mentioned in passing, not fully developed. This book, unlike so many that are planned as part of a larger group of works, is very complete in itself, with an excellent resolution to all the problems and concerns it starts with. But I have a feeling the next book will make more of the tie to the Liveships and Bingtown traders, and I am looking forward to it.
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on 3 June 2002
I am becoming a little jaded when it comes to buying fantasy novels. This book reminds me why I enjoy the genre so much. It is one of those that is difficult to put down, I find that rare nowadays.
This book focusses on Fitz 15 years after the "assasin" books. He has settled into a life as a rural recluce with a foster son. Unfortunately for him his capabilities are required by Chade and Queen Kettricken.
To meet the requests of Chade etc, Fitz must come to terms with how his status is not what it was. You become enmeshed in his character. If you have read the previous books you will understand his history, identify with Fitz more closely and consequently appreiciate his position more.
One aspect I didn't expect was the tie in with the "liveship" books.
Anyway, well done Robin, a stirring read.
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2002
I've been reading Robin Hobb since she was Megan Lindholm (and now recognised as such); her early books were aimed at a younger audience, but had that certain appeal that set her apart from the run-of-the-mill authors.
The Six Duchy saga is on a different plane, appealing to a more mature audience who wish something to get their imaginations' teeth into, and she has done it again with the Tawny Man - although it doesn't seem like it during the first 1/3rd of the book ...
15 years have passed since Fitz's last adventure (he is now known as Tom), so the telling of this has to be done subtly, to avoid those boring resumes that we often get; the Fool too has changed in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways and seems intent on being as manipulative as Chade.
The threads that are brought together during the latter part of the book promise an adventure just as good as the other 2, especially as we seem to be drawing both previous series to a common point (which may have been guessed at from the previous frontispiece maps).
There are many unanswered questions as well: who or what is the Fool & is it male or female? Where does Hap fit in? Starling is more than she appears; Why is the Fool's horse called Malta? Treasure Beach hints at another connection; Wit & Skill - same or different?
By the end of the book, one is left wondering which will be next - a further episode of Tawny Man, the Liveship Traders sequel, or a new series about the Out-Islanders?
Ms Hobb has fashioned one of the most believable worlds in modern fantasy - on a par with George RR Martin's Song of Ice & Fire - the characters are 3-dimensional, hidden traits appearing unexpectedly, and not all of them perfect, as so often happens in lesser tales.
I can't say much more without 'spoilers', so I leave it to you to persevere with the first part of the book, your persistance will be rewarded! *****
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on 9 April 2005
Robin Hobb's debut series (`The Farseer' trilogy) possessed that very rare combination of an exceptional writing style, a thoroughly engaging protagonist and an equally compelling cast of unique secondary characters populating the most vivid setting since Tolkein's Middle Earth. The author effortlessly avoided all the pitfalls of the genre to tell the gripping first-person story of a nameless boy without a past taking up residence in the court of the king of whom he was the illegitimate grandson. Hobb evoked the magic and realism of the landscape and sustained it throughout the series with the best characterisation I've ever experienced.

It was the best fantasy series I'd ever read and 'The Liveship Traders' trilogy that proceeded it was just as ground-breaking, although in a distinctively different way, exploring as it did the lives of mariners and their families possessing of magically-imbued sea-faring vessels.

Until I read `Fools Errand' I didn't think it could get any better, but I was wrong. 'The Tawny Man' trilogy is easily the best work by the author in my opinion. One of this author's many strengths is her ability to shape characters over time- subjecting them to varying degrees of life-threatening experiences that enable them to change and grow not just physically or emotionally, but also in the eyes of the reader, as characters whom you began with feelings of ambivalence, frustration, or even a strong dislike towards gradually become beloved, or at the very least sympathetic.

This talent is on display particularly here with a story set fifteen years after we last left these characters- a period of time long enough, you might imagine, for their lustre and charm as potentially inventive characters to have worn off. But not only are Fitz (or Tom Badgerlock, as he now styles himself) the Fool, Chade, Kettricken and Nighteyes as engaging as ever, the context in which the author has placed them (i.e. the current political and social climate of the Six Duchies and outlying areas) allows them to develop in ways that remain perfectly true to their character's personalities while exploring totally new realms of character advancement. Never do you feel with Hobb that she shoe-horns characters into situations- the author always writes with a true and steady sense of how these characters would and do behave.

The best part of this book for me is the situation in which the author re-introduces the reader to her protagonist, as a man middle-aged and set in his ways, yet restless. Even as he goes about the mundane tasks required on his small homestead with the wit-bonded wolf as his companion and an adopted boy as his charge, there is satisfaction in every sentence and a joy for the reader as Hobb lovingly and painstakingly lays the groundwork for the self-contained plot that will be resolved in this opening story and the multitude of other connected story threads that be developed throughout the course of the trilogy. The sedate pace set at the beginning of this book and which continues for the first two hundred pages, won't be to everyone's taste, as it's in stark contrast to the dramatic events of 'The Farseer' trilogy, but I found it to be the perfect introduction for our hero and the developments from there on in only more impactful as a result.

Not simply a return to form, 'Fool's Errand' is Hobb on finest form and Fitz more engaging than ever. Heartily recommended.
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on 7 April 2003
I thought this was the most wonderful story, it stood on its own but is also a more than worthy sequel. Robin Hobbs narrative just keeps on getting better, the characters in this book have grown and developed from the Farseer books, into people that you can really care about. The relationships have such depth and feeling, and Hobbs description and way with words means that you feel every event personally. I look forward to The Golden Fool with great anticipation. I enjoyed the Liveship trilogy and certainly think you need to read these and the Farseer trilogy to get the best from the Tawny Man. I never thought I would enjoy a 'fantasy' story so much but this has got to be one of the best tales I have read, and I do read a lot. I am in a way dreading the final instalment as I have an awful feeling that we may lose more of the central characters. But these tales are compulsive reading and once started, putting them down is painful. I guess I will just have to start again and reread them to pass the time until Fools Fate is issued.
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on 17 January 2004
one of robin hobbs strenghts as a writer lies in the fact that she isnt afraid give the storyline twists and turns the reader probably wont like
such as - at the beginning of this story Fitz's fight and fall out with Starling.
But she is also amazing when it comes to developing her characters and the plots of her books and this book is no exception.
After living apart from the farseers and buckeep for 15 years, Fitz finds himself drawn back into their political strifes and problems when Dutiful Farseer, heir to the throne and Fitz's biological son goes missing, and is apparently in the compnay of the piebalds - a group of renegade old bloods who want freedom of the witted.
Armed with both wit and skill and with the fool masquerading as a jamaillian noble and his wit-animal nighteyes at his side, and with new comrade laurel fitz sets out in search of the prince to return him in time for his betrothal to out island narcheska Elliana to secure a lasting peace betwen the two former enemies.
But soon Fitz finds himself in a fight for the lives of not only the prince but his friends as well as the piebalds attempt to claim the throne using the wit.
Robin Hobb ensnares her reader in the world of the six duchies and its complex and intruiging occupants as fitz once again is called on to become the catalyst and change the course of the future for the better, as well as trying to prevent his foster son, Hap, from repeating the mistakes fitz himself made 15 years earlier. And Nettle, fitz daughter who he has never met, it seems will eventually be drawn into the world of the farseers despite fitz attempts to keep her safe even though she has a strong predeliction for the skill
this book will grasp u so completely u will not put it down and will probably buy the two sequels b4 u finish it!
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on 1 December 2001
After having immensely enjoyed "The Farseer Trilogy" as well as "The Liveship Traders Trilogy" - which both had satisfying endings, but left some few loose ends as well - I was eagerly awaiting Robin Hobb's new trilogy. And it was worthwhile waiting.
Hobb's stories have to be enjoyed with a certain taste for people and characters. Her storylines and plots range in the interesting and captivating, but not too unusual (no offense meant) areas of high fantasy. Her geography and history of The Land are developed just enough to support what's going on - and to just subtly hint at a bit more outside of the story. But her real strengths are characters, their development, and their interactions.
In "Fool's Errand", we encounter quite a few of acquaintances from both (!) her former two trilogies, though in some cases you have to have read those books in order to get some of the finer points. But they have developed - both in age and relationship to their world and to each other, both in a good and a not so good way. And their developments are credible ones. For instance, there is no doubt that Fitz of "The Farseer Trilogy" is the same individual as Fitz of "Fool's Errand"; but the fifteen years that have passed have left traces we can identify and accept and believe in. You can feel, too, that Hobb took great pains to make every single character singular and very believable - even those that at first sight appear to be minor ones. So, one of the main delights in reading this book is watching her characters interact with one another and go on in their development while the story unfolds.
The story itself "suffers" from a few of the usual problems of being the first in a trilogy. There are some changes of pace here - there is a rather long period of exposition, of setting up the main character pieces (which isn't so bad as, as I pointed out, characters and their interactions are the main focus anyway), while the later hunt and subsequent story parts appear rather rushed to me. The end of the book is not quite the dramatic cliffhanger, but you feel it well open-ended enough to eagerly wait for the next installment. You may well speculate, but taking into account the way Hobb handled her other storylines, we may very well be in for quite a few surprises.
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VINE VOICEon 15 April 2002
I've been reading Robin Hobb since she was Megan Lindholm (and now recognised as such); her early books were aimed at a younger audience, but had that certain appeal that set her apart from the run-of-the-mill authors.
The Six Duchy saga is on a different plane, appealing to a more mature audience who wish something to get their imaginations' teeth imto, and she has done it again with the Tawny Man - although it doesn't seem like it during the first 1/3rd of the book ...
15 years have passed since Fitz's last adventure (he is now known as Tom), so the telling of this has to be done subtly, to avoid those boring resumes that we often get; the Fool too has changed in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways and seems intent on being as manipulative as Chade.
The threads that are brought together during the latter part of the book promise an adventure just as good as the other 2, especially as we seem to be drawing both previous series to a common point (which may have been guessed at from the previous frontispiece maps).
There are many unanswered questions as well: who or what is the Fool & is it male or female? Where does Hap fit in? Starling is more than she appears; Why is the Fool's horse called Malta? Treasure Beach hints at another connection; Wit & Skill - same or different?
By the end of the book, one is left wondering which will be next - a further episode of Tawny Nan, the Liveship Traders sequel, or a new series about the OutIslanders?
Ms Hobb has fashioned one of the most believable worlds in modern fantasy - on a par with George RR Martin's Song of Ice & Fire - the characters are 3-dimensional, hidden traits appearing unexpectedly, and not all of them perfect, as so often happens in lesser tales.
I can't say much more without 'spoilers', so I leave it to you to persevere with the first part of the book, your persistance will be rewarded!
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on 21 October 2001
I remember reading the Liveship Trilogy eagerly awaiting mention of the Six Duchies and Buckkeep. Now I have a whole new trilogy to enjoy, getting reacquainted with old friends, and meeting new ones.
The first Farseer trilogy centred on Fitz as the Catalyst for change and this new series seems to be no different. What is different is this is a more knowledgeable and experienced central character.
From the outset we are thrown straight back into what we once new as an old mentor arrives at Fitz's door, we experience his solitude, and his struggle to understand and realise that a destiny awaits him.
By the end of the book there are enough loose ends, meetings avoided, and teasing comments to make any Hobbs fan sit in frustration eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
Excellent
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