Archive for the ‘Robin Hobb’ Category
published November 2012
where I got it: Received ARC from the publisher
Epic Fantasy requires the story to be bigger, the dragons be faster, the warriors be stronger, and everything generally be more. And Epic: Legends of Fantasy offers up just that – more mythos, higher stakes, more of simply everything.
Many of the entries are part of the author’s larger work, taking place in an epic fantasy world that the author has already written hundreds and sometimes thousands of pages about. Randomly, the stories I read first happened to be part of larger works, and at first, the lack of stand alone works bothered me, but I quickly came to appreciate it, and to learn the collection had plenty of stand alone stories as well. An anthology like this is a brilliant method of introducing readers to these larger fantasy worlds created by famous authors such as Robin Hobb, George R R Martin, Michael Moorcock, Melanie Rawn, Tad Williams, and many others, and serves as an excellent introduction to the writings of newer authors as well.
Some works were fairly new, but others were older than I am. the Moorcock for example was originally written in 1961. A pure classic sword and sorcery, complete with sexualized and helpless female, it might be offensive to today’s readers, but I’m happy Adams included it, as what’s the point of talking about Epic Fantasy if we’re not going to touch on the journey the genre has taken?
Clocking in at over 600 pages, Epic: Legends of Fantasy is itself a bit of a doorstopper. We eat clunksters like this for breakfast, so I was surprised at how long it took me to plow through it. ahh, but spending 600+ pages in one fantasy world is one thing. Try spending that quantity of pages in over a dozen fantasy worlds. More often than not, my brain needed a little break in between. This isn’t the kind of anthology to gorge on, this is the kind you savor, over many winter evenings.
Here’s my thoughts a handful of the entries:
Forest Mage (Soldier Son Trilogy: book 2), by Robin Hobb
published in 2006
where I got it: purchased new
why I read it: enjoyed the first book, Shaman’s Crossing
Picking up shortly after the end of the first book in the trilogy, Shaman’s Crossing, Forest Mage was mostly what I’ve come to expect from Robin Hobb – a powerful character driven fantasy that starts out “traditional”, and then, quite suddenly, most certainly isn’t.
As the military academy recovers from the Plague, life slowly goes back to normal. Noble families are coming to grips with the fact that their third son (destined for the priesthood) may now be their second son (destined for the military) and so forth. Nevare is readying to head home to his brother’s wedding and to see Carsina, his betrothed. While most people who survive the plague become weakened and skeletal, Nevare is having the opposite reaction to his brush with death: he can’t stop gaining weight. He becomes heavy. Then fat. Then obese. Hobb takes every possible opportunity to remind us that Nevare is supposed to be a fit, trim soldier, and “letting yourself go” simply isn’t accepted in this society (I’ll just assume that every woman in this world always loses the baby fat, and thyroid problems are nonexistent). Due only to his size, Nevare is in turn spurned by his father, his siblings, his friends and his betrothed. And then he is given a medical discharge from the academy. Everything he was destined to be, the military life his father trained him for, is over.
Humiliated and disowned by his father, Nevare sets out for the eastern frontier determined to join up with a military post far from home. Everywhere he stops it seems, people don’t want anything to do with him because of his girth. People assume he is homeless, or a thief, or a murderer, or all of the above, and only because he’s fat. Hobb belabors this point, often.
Along the King’s Road, Nevare learns first hand the folly of building a road with chain gangs, of building frontier towns just to abandon them when the road passes through and the guards leave. Puts me in the mood to track down some American history about the transcontinental railroads and the natives who were “in the way”.
Soldier Son, Book 1: Shaman’s Crossing, by Robin Hobb
Where I got it: purchased new
Why I read it: I enjoyed Hobb’s Farseer series and wanted to read more of her books.
I can give you a simple summary of the plot of Shaman’s Crossing, the first book in Robin Hobb’s Soldier Son trilogy, and I guarantee, it will sound simple. I also guarantee this novel is far from simple.
In the traditional and conservative land of Gernia, the aspirations of noble sons are predetermined by their birth order. First sons are heirs, second sons are soldiers, third sons are priests, and so on. After a recent and bloody war with their neighbors, the King elevated his most celebrated military commanders to the title of Lord, making them equal in status to not only their older brothers, but the old nobility as well.
Nevare Burvelle is the second son of one such elevated veteran. Living on a frontier estate, Nevare is naïve of how the old noble families view “upstarts” such as his father. These frontier estates are often the only thing between the civilized cities of Gernia and the nomadic Plainsmen and the aborigine Speckled peoples of the mountains.
Nevare is a perfect son. He is loyal, honest and obedient. These things make for a good soldier, but his father has greater plans for him. In an effort to make Nevare break out of his quiet shell of obedience and learn to think for himself, his father sends him to learn from a Plainsman named Dewara. Part of Nevare’s “education” with the savage Dewara is a spirit journey, in which things go either very wrong, or very right, depending on how you look at it.
I’ve still got The Wolf Age by James Enge and Mountains of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg topping the TBR list, but here are some new goodies on deck, double deck, and triple deck for the next little while:
There’s something in that photo that I’m super crazy excited about, can you guess what it is? Hint: It’s from the friendly folks at PYR.
I hadn’t planned on buying Grey, but I recently read some good reviews of it, and it was on the dollar table at Bargain Books because the cover was a bit marked up. Also from Bargain Books, the Ai Yazawa. I’m undecided on Bargain Books – no service, but tons of random cheap stuff that’s usually in mint condition. A consumer’s dream, or a nail in the coffin of my favorite independent bookseller?
Oh, and I got seduced by this too:
I just can’t help myself when it comes to Robin Hobb. You’re looking at the Soldier Son trilogy, book 1 of which I’m about 150 pages into. I probably won’t read these books one right after the other, but I hope to get to all of them, eventually.
So If I don’t get (too) distracted by anything else in the next week or so, you should expect to see reviews of at least a handful of the stuff mentioned or pictured in this post.
Just so you know, this is a super long post with a funny at the end. Not unlike an epic quest. . . .
I describe this website as offering Science Fiction & Fantasy reviews. But going through my list of reviews, I’m seeing far more fantasy than science. Maybe I should just describe it as a fantasy review site? Or a gateway to fantasy review site?
When I was a kid, I was an adamant SF fan. Much of my youth was spent building spaceships out of legos and watching PBS shows about astronomy. I craved scientific explanations for everything. I wanted to know how everything worked.
While my friends were reading Lloyd Alexander, I was reading Interstellar Pig. As they moved onto Tolkien and Raymond Feist and Katherine Kurtz, I moved onto David Brin and Robert Heinlein and Frank Herbert.
To me, Fantasy was wizards with long beards, royals who went on quests where their soldiers and magical armor protected them, and elves and dwarves who spent the first half of the conversation telling you their lineages, and embarassingly rediculous cover art. really nothing else. I had no understanding that “high fantasy” was only the tip of the iceberg of the genre. My limited experiences with high fantasy let me know quickly that I didn’t care for it.
And then I started reading manga, a form famous for mixing genres. Cyborg mechas using laser guns against a castle and fighting flesh and blood dragons that guarded hoards of treasure? no problem. Kids who get wisked away from their regular life to fight demons and spirits and collect magical shards? piece of cake. Vampires, martians, aliens, dragons, time travel, often in the same series. And it worked, like magic.
Wait, wasn’t this, um, fantasy? It sure was fantastical, and it sure wasn’t hard scifi. Read the rest of this entry »