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Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Final Update

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

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Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Final UpdateFool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #3
Also in this series: Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 32 hours and 46 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from iTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Fool’s Fate 100% complete. Challenge 100% complete

Today I finished Fool’s Fate, the final book in the Tawny Man trilogy and the last of the five books I was reading in my Realm of the Elderlings challenge.

I was right in my prediction yesterday that the section I read today was very much a wrap-up.  Other than the expected resurrection of the Fool it was all about ensuring that the good guys were recompensed for their heroism.  Fitz gets his Molly (sigh), Dutiful gets his Narcheska, Tintaglia gets her Icefyre and they all live happily ever after and raise lots of children.

The scene with the Fool and the Rooster Crown wasn’t as I’d remembered it.  It was a beautiful scene, but it doesn’t quite reach Perrin and his Hammer for epicness.  The secret of the Rooster Crown was very Fool-like.  Some readers have wondered why Fitz didn’t learn the secret of the Fool’s gender during this whole process, but I  easily understand why he didn’t even consider breaching the Fool’s trust in this manner.

The writing of the Fool’s character development with his resignation to his death, his PTSD following his torture and his struggle to adapt to a world where he didn’t know the future and no longer had to struggle to move it into the right path was beautiful – these character insights are Hobb’s real strengths as a writer.

I’m still not 100% happy at a Fitz/Molly reunion.  Hobb had spent too much time emphasising that Molly was the love of his youth, comparing the feelings Fitz had for her to Hap’s boyish infatuation with his Svenja.  She had Fitz realise that it wasn’t so much Molly the woman he was in love with but of the people they were so long ago.  The Hedge Witch states in Fool’s Errand that Fitz’s True Love is on his way back to him.  The VERY NEXT CHAPTER he is reunited with not Molly but the Fool after many years’ separation.  What gives?  I really feel she’s been backtracking on the foundations she has laid.  I suppose I can kind of give her a pass in that the restoration to Fitz of the feelings he’d fed into Girl in a Dragon back in Assassin’s Quest as well as the lack of need for a Catalyst mean he can be the man he might have been had he not sacrificed so much for the Farseer cause.  I still feel his relationship with the Fool is far deeper and more genuine than the one with Molly.

Still I have a whole series on Fitz and the Fool to come to remedy this.  I’m familiar enough with Hobb’s writing style to know to expect wonderful character development, but very slow plot movement.  I can’t wait to read what she has in store for these wonderful characters.  My next full book review will almost certainly be for Fool’s Assassin, but don’t expect that until I return from my vacation!

So, that’s really all I have to say from my wanderings through the Realm of the Elderlings.  I’ve really enjoyed my reread of the series and thank you all for joining me.

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 18

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

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Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 18Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #3
Also in this series: Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 32 hours and 46 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from iTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Fool’s Fate 71% complete.

Happy book birthday to Robin Hobb and Fool’s Assassin which was published today!  The Kindle and Audible version hit my download queues overnight and I had to exercise great strength of will not to dive in immediately but to complete my reread of the Realm of the Elderlings series first.  Actually, that reminds me; those of you who have read Fool’s Assassin, please would you let me know in the comments if it contains spoilers for the Rainwild Chronicles?  Thanks!  I was also exceptionally pleased that Fool’s Assassin is Whispersync for Voice enabled.  Yay!  It’s one of those services that you don’t think you’ll need or use, until you have a book/audiobook combo without it.

Speaking of audiobooks, after my whining yesterday about the North American version of Fool’s Fate not being available until the end of the month I was astounded to find it available on Audible.com today.  Mutter, mumble grumble.  I wish I’d known that before I bought the UK version.  I gave in and completed my collection.  I am used to the Audible app and prefer using it to the music app for audiobooks.  This now moves Ms Hobb up into joint third place with David Eddings as the author whose works take up most space in my digital library (according to Delicious Library.)  For the curious among you, the Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson combo takes the top spot.

So, back to Fool’s Fate.  Things are definitely picking up pace now.  In fact at 71% of the way through, it seems to be mainly over bar the shouting.  Once the Pale Woman’s plot was laid bare it didn’t take long for it to be dismantled.  I loved the fact that the Skill stone dragon was destroyed by what is clearly a wizardwood (i.e. real, live dragon based) arrow.  I also liked that its “death” restored the humanity of the Forged ones nearby who had been Forged in its making.

I loved the writing of the Fitz/Burrich/Swift/Web interrelationships.  They were very well done, as was the dilemma which divided Dutiful’s party. I am sad for Burrich’s imminent demise, as much as because it will be sad to lose such a great character.  His family’s backstory with the slavers was particularly touching.  However, I’m pretty annoyed that it’s paving the way for a Fitz/Molly reunion.  I will rant about that when/if it happens.

I also do not believe for one second that the Fool is dead.  I seem to remember a Skill healing involved, to rival the forging of Perrin’s hammer Mah’alleinir in Wheel of Time.  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow if my memory has served me correctly.

See you then!

five-stars

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 16

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

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Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 16Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #3
Also in this series: Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook, Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook
Format: eBook
Pages: 928 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes

Progress: Fool’s Fate 23% complete.

So, onto the final book of my reading challenge, Fool’s Fate.  The audiobook hasn’t been released yet, so the cover art shown is that from the Kindle book.  This cover is clearly reminiscent of the date the novel was first released.

This first section is pretty depressing.  It’s all about the Farseer contingent’s ship journey to the Outislands and Thick’s sheer misery during the voyage.  It does highlight Nettle’s Skill with dreams and shows the likely way in which she will aid the quest for Icefyre’s head.  I did feel this section could have been compressed considerably.

The politics of the quest are starting to be discussed now.  Why did the Narcheska place such a demand on Dutiful?  What did she hope to gain?  Or is she being manipulated?  Of course, I remember the answer to that from my reading years ago!

As I’m still shipping Fitz and the Fool, I did love the section where the Fool joins the Skill lesson and connects with Fitz.  Definitely more than plumbing!

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 15

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

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Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 15Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #2
Also in this series: Fool's Errand, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook, Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook
Format: eBook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 25 hours and 56 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Golden Fool 100% complete.

Woohoo, four books down, one to go!  Next up: Fool’s Fate.  I would just like to say thanks to everyone who has been following along with me on this reread.

So, a lot happened in that last section of the book I just finished.  Here are some of the highlights.

Dutiful’s Coterie is formed.  I loved this particular section.  It was beautifully written how Chade, Dutiful, The Fool and Thick all came together in the Skill to save Fitz’s life, with each of them bringing something to the table.  Chade’s arcane knowledge, the Fool’s love for Fitz, Thick’s sheer strength in the Skill and Dutiful’s skill at bringing it all together.  I believe they are making a big mistake in shutting The Fool out of the subsequent Skill lessons, which they may find to their cost.

The rapprochement between The Fool and Fitz after their argument about love vs plumbing.  I can’t believe Fitz didn’t see that the reason The Fool was shutting him out was because of the deep, deep hurt he felt at Fitz’s reaction.  I hope the rapprochement continues.

The revelation of The Fool’s tattoos and the moral dilemma which faces Fitz should the Fool go to Asjeval.  It appears Fitz will have to choose between his loyalty to the Farseers, a trait which has defined his whole life up until now, and the Fool’s life.  Tough choice.

So, onto Fool’s Fate, the longest book in my challenge.  The audiobook has not yet been released in North America, so I will be reading only.  I guess we’ll find out what happens next.

Join me then!

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 14

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

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Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 14Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #2
Also in this series: Fool's Errand, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook, Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook
Format: eBook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 25 hours and 56 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Golden Fool 68% complete.

So, as I guessed, Amber’s friend Jek’s arrival in Buckkeep caused the Fool’s Amber and Lord Golden personae to converge.  She also revealed to Fitz the depth of the Fool’s feelings for him.  Yep, still sailing that ship.

I was very interested by Fitz’s reaction to all of this.  His thoughts were more along the lines of “oh no, everyone thinks I’m sleeping with my boss!” and “oh no, how could the Fool have had a totally different life about which I knew nothing?”  Not once did he think “oh no, the Fool’s feelings for me are deeper than I realised; how can I let him down gently?”  Nope, never goes there.  Clearly, Fitz doesn’t want to deal with his own feelings towards the Fool.  

I suppose now is as good a time as any to address the whole issue of the Fool’s gender and sexuality in general in Hobb’s world.  At no point is it confirmed to which gender the person known as the Fool/Amber/Lord Golden belongs.  Right from the very beginning when we are first are introduced to the character in Assassin’s Apprentice his gender is in question.  He presents himself as male and is referred to as male even though the character is distinctly androgynous.  The Fool is often seen as refusing medical aid, perhaps to conceal his true nature.  As Amber he adopts a female persona and as Lord Golden male.  Starling is the first to suggest the Fool is female.  Whenever anyone asks him directly he tells them it’s none of their business.  Hobb uses the male pronouns when referring to the Fool or Lord Golden and the feminine ones when referring to Amber.  

At one point, (Assassin’s Quest, chapter 30) Fitz and the Fool are discussing love and sex and Fitz suggests that two men cannot love each other in the way that a man and woman do.  The Fool’s response: “you’re confusing love with plumbing”  Nicely done, Fool, nicely done.  However, my ship is rocked somewhat by Fitz’a insistence that true love does require a physical relationship and that he could never be physically involved with someone of the Fool’s perceived gender.  

In other news, at 50% of the way through the second book, we FINALLY get onto the quest for this series’ McGuffin, the quest for Icefyre’s head.  Yay.

I’m also enjoying the way Thick is slowly becoming better understood by both Fitz and Dutiful.  

More tomorrow

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 13

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

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Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 13Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #2
Also in this series: Fool's Errand, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook, Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook
Format: eBook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 25 hours and 56 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Golden Fool 43% complete.

I don’t actually have a great deal to say about today’s reading.  It’s more setup.  I was interested in the beginnings of Dutiful’s Coterie with Fitz, Dutiful, Chade, Thick and Nettle clearly being setup for that.  I was less involved shall we say in the whole Hap/Jinna subplot.  Hap’s pure raison d’être was to act as a comparison to Dutiful – both of Fitz’s “sons” need him and he’s struggling to balance the two and also to highlight Fitz’s own youthful indiscretions.

I was glad that Hobb made it clear that Fitz really didn’t return Jinna’s affection in any meaningful way.  I’m still completely shipping Fitz and the Fool, but in any case Molly is still hanging around in the background <sigh>  In terms of the pairings, I’m a little frustrated that Hobb isn’t sticking to her “Molly is Fitz’s youthful fling, there’s someone (i.e. the Fool) in his future for a deeper relationship.”  I remember that Fitz ends up with Molly at the end of Fool’s Fate, so I hope that’s reversed in Fool’s Assassin.

Speaking of the Fool, from the name of the next chapter, “Jek,” I have the feeling that his Amber and Lord Golden personae are going to collide drastically leaving Fitz with a real “WTF!?!” moment.  We shall see tomorrow!

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 12

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

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Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 12Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #2
Also in this series: Fool's Errand, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook, Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook
Format: eBook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 25 hours and 56 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Golden Fool 19% complete.

So, onto a new book, Golden Fool.  Once again I must comment on the cover art – isn’t it gorgeous?

Once again, at the beginning of the book there are lots of lovely character moments rather than fast plot progression.  I particularly appreciated Kettricken’s meeting with Fitz to share his grief at the loss of Nighteyes.  I’m so happy that Fitz – and the reader! – were given space to mourn this wonderful character.  

Other notable character moments were Dutiful’s being torn between reaching out to Fitz as a father figure and maintaining his princely decorum.  I also look forward to seeing more of Chade’s servant, Thick.  If memory serves, he has a large role to play in the story.

The seeds were also being set for the political intrigue around the Narcheska and who is really behind the marriage offer.  I look forward to seeing how that is developed.

At this point I really should mention how incredible it is that I have been able to marathon Hobb’s writing to this extent.  Normally I like to change up my reading – I often have several different books on the go at once – but Hobb’s marvellous world and characters have been able to retain my interest effortlessly.  That says a heck of a lot right there.

five-stars

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 11

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

100%
Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 11Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #1
Also in this series: Golden Fool, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook, Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 24 hours and 47 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Fool’s Errand 100% complete. Progress: Golden Fool 7% complete

Woohoo, three books down, two to go!  

I have finished Fool’s Errand, the first in the Tawny Man trilogy.  Farewell Nighteyes, fictional wolf of my heart.  I miss him as much as Fitz does.  This last section of the book I finished was far more plot focussed than character driven unlike the earlier sections.  The smelly stuff really starts to hit the fan as Fitz, the Fool and Laurel must extricate Prince Dutiful from the Piebalds and return him to Buckeep to fulfil his royal duties.  Much as I enjoyed the adventure I did actually miss the quieter character moments.

I noticed many little references to other books in the whole Realm of the Elderlings trilogy.  Icefyre, the Narcheska and the Pale Woman will have significance later on the Tawny Man trilogy (if memory serves me right).  There are also references to Bingtown and clearly the beach where Fitz and Dutiful were deposited by the Skill pillar was the Others’ beach of the Liveship Traders.

It was only now that I realised the overarching theme of the entire Realm of the Elderlings was DRAGONS!  I’m not sure why I didn’t spot that before.  In the Farseer trilogy, Verity seeks to wake stone dragons to come to the Six Duchies’ aid.  Aiding the serpents in their struggle to reach their cocooning beaches and become baby dragons is a major motivator for the Liveship Traders trilogy and of course we will have Icefyre and his fate for the Tawny Man.

So, on with Golden Fool tomorrow.

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 10

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

100%
Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 10Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #1
Also in this series: Golden Fool, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook, Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 24 hours and 47 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Fool’s Errand 83% complete.

Today is a public holiday in most of Canada (except Quebec where I live) which meant it was very quiet.  I was able to listen to my audiobook of Fool’s Errand while waiting on work to come in and so got a large chunk of the book read.  (if my boss is reading this, I was working – honest!)

In this section of the book the adventure really takes off.  Fitz, the Fool in his Lord Golden guise, Nighteyes and Huntswoman Laurel set off to find the missing prince Dutiful. Old Blood politics plays a large part in this section.  Of course when they finally catch up with Dutiful, he isn’t very enthusiastic about being “rescued.”

As a cat lover, I was amused at the difficulties Hobb describes in creating a Wit bond with a feline.  Clearly, cats in the Realm of the Elderlings are equally as independent and strong minded as here!

On a more serious note, there were some interesting points raised about the way Dutiful was manipulated into the bond with the cat – almost like a brainwashing cult.  

Hopefully I should be able to finish the book tomorrow.  

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 9

Realm of the Elderlings: 5/5

100%
Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 9Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb
Series: The Tawny Man Trilogy #1
Also in this series: Golden Fool, Fool's Fate, Fool's Fate - UK Audiobook, Fool's Fate - Canadian Audiobook
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 24 hours and 47 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Progress: Fool’s Errand 45% complete.

Excellent progress on Fool’s Errand – I wasn’t working today so was able to spend quite a bit of time reading or listening to the book. It is the shortest book on my challenge at 672 pages.

My first comment is that it took until about 36% of the way through the book before we were actually presented with the main quest of the book – Prince Dutiful has gone missing. The first part of the book was spent reconnecting with Fitz and the Fool, learning what Fitz had been up to in the intervening years. I do feel this could have been compressed considerably.  On the other hand, I did enjoy watching Fitz and the Fool’s first meeting again.

Much of the setup also focussed on the Wit.  Clearly, this is going to have far more importance than it had in the Farseer trilogy in terms of the Six Duchies society, not just in how it affects Fitz personally.

It’s clear that Nighteyes is not the wolf he once was – it’s definitely preparing us for the book’s ending <sniff>

More tomorrow.

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