Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

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Chibbell
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Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby Chibbell » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:19 pm UTC

I searched around and don't see any existing topics dedicated to the series. It looks like several of you have read the books and I'd love to know some of your thoughts.

For those that don't know, the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy are two related fantasy series by Robin Hobb. They are set in the same world as the Mad Ship trilogy that fits somewhere between Farseer and Tawny Man, and is very loosely related.

It's a series I'm very torn on and would love to have a meaningful dialogue about. At times I thought the book might be incredibly easy to dismiss. Anything with a emotional, angsty youngster as the protagonist makes me skeptical. Still, I kept through it and though I wanted to throw the book in a fire in sheer rage at times I'm glad I stuck it out. It was one of the most satisfying reads I've had in a long time.

Something about it feels completely tangible and real. The characters have an emotional depth that I'm not used to seeing in fantasy or really much fiction at all. People make mistakes. Simple, interpersonal ones. Our hero Fitz is just as likely a bystander to pivotal moments as he is central to them. The friendship between the Fool and Fitz is one of the most genuine I've ever read. Fitz never sees the world from further than his own self absorbed perspective, and torments himself needlessly, yet you completely understand it at the same time you want to bounce his head off a wall. The final reveals at the end of Tawny Man is satisfying, sad and bittersweet. The author is never clever for clever's sake. She actually ties up loose ends and knows how to close a tale.

All that said, I still don't understand a lot of the logic of the second book and how the primary antagonists gets away with what he does. I suspect that my own desires to kick him in the nuts might be clouding my judgement. The good guys could have easily subverted the baddies plans but never do so. There wouldn't have been much plot if they did, but it drove me nuts throughout the entire book.

Getting through it all felt like a chore at times but when I look back I feel like I achieved something. If you haven't read them I highly recommend it. Just ignore their juvenile titles and cover art.

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Ulc
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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby Ulc » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:29 am UTC

My biggest beef with Robin Hobb is simply that she seems to enjoy subjecting her characters to pain, for no plot reason. You know the part where fitz gets poisoned and starts suffering from the shakes? It doesn't actually lead to character growth or anything interesting. In fact it only leads to a number of pages of whining from him, then it becomes irrelevant as he loses his own body for a while, and when he returns to his own body, the shakes are the least of his worries. It's pointless, and seems like she has concluded "all the really great authors let characters suffer" and missed the reason that they do so.

That and the parts of the books that felt as a chore to get through made me put it down and never look back.

Didn't help that the world she builds seems overly simplistic for the political plots involved.
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Jesse
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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby Jesse » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:18 pm UTC

See, what I love about rRobin Hobb in these series is their characterisation (Especially with Malta in the Mad Ship Trilogy). She has characters that actually change, and not just in some big climactic way because one thing happened to them now their whole life is different, but in a way that as the world changes around them they find that they've changed along with it.

That series with Fitz being poisoned was a good part of his character development. He whines about it for ages, just like he whines about everything else until he sees the king in a far worse state than he is, and realises that yes he's in pain, but it's a pain of youth and that he'll get better, however the king is feeling the pain of hopelessness, knowing it'll never get better. It's the first time he actually thinks about someone other than himself and it's really significant in his development.

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby |Erasmus| » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:20 am UTC

Just out of interest, have you people who say Hobb is that good at characterisation read a Song of Ice and Fire yet?

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby EmptySet » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:24 am UTC

Jesse wrote:That series with Fitz being poisoned was a good part of his character development. He whines about it for ages, just like he whines about everything else until he sees the king in a far worse state than he is, and realises that yes he's in pain, but it's a pain of youth and that he'll get better, however the king is feeling the pain of hopelessness, knowing it'll never get better. It's the first time he actually thinks about someone other than himself and it's really significant in his development.


Fitz feeling inadequate and humiliated when he gets the shakes also ties into other things that happen. For instance, when he is convinced that he sucks at the Skill and, indeed, life in general; and when he is tortured and starts being more aggressive to hide his feelings of vulnerability. And of course, he eventually becomes resigned to his various injuries as he ages, which is a moment of character development. There were certainly times when I was a bit tired of all the gloom, but I think it served a purpose in the end.

Also, people who suffer from panic attacks may have similar symptoms and feelings to Fitz after his poisoning - getting the shakes, humiliation at breaking down in public, fear of doing things in case they have an attack... his "whining" is rather more sympathetic from that perspective.

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby Jesse » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:07 pm UTC

|Erasmus| wrote:Just out of interest, have you people who say Hobb is that good at characterisation read a Song of Ice and Fire yet?


Yes, and I really don't like it. There's just somethign about the characters that don't work for me.

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby Thadlerian » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:43 pm UTC

|Erasmus| wrote:Just out of interest, have you people who say Hobb is that good at characterisation read a Song of Ice and Fire yet?

Yeah, read them all. Hobb is much better. Her characters feel so much more real in their relations to each other. They're actual people you've met in your life. Martin seems more about character types and subversions of these. They're awesome, many of them, but they feel like little islands socially.

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby ImTestingSleeping » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:30 pm UTC

I think it may be my favorite series in the genre. In the fantasy genre, you often see "Oh it had good plot, but it lacked X..." or "Oh it had good characterization, but it missed on Y..." People ask for book recommendations which have certain characteristics. I feel like Robin Hobb has created a world and a series which delivers in X, Y, and Z. Hell, we'd run out of alphabet.

In particular, I'd say that the Skill and the Wit were wonderful. Handling "magic" in novels seems to be one of the hardest tasks for an author. I love how she did it. At no point did I think Fitz was just pulling rabbits out of his hat. Well....

Spoiler:
The whole "by the way, you can like jump into Nighteyes body and go back if you wants lol. Kk!?" kinda upset me. It was extremely important to the book's plot to have him die, be forgotten, and come back but I wish that piece of information was divulged earlier in the book so it didn't seem so gimmicky.


Other than that, I thought it was a great piece of fictional writing and a wonderful read. I still recommend it to friends.

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby opsomath » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:06 pm UTC

First, the Farseer/Tawny Man series is unquestionably one of my favorite series, not only in fantasy, but in literature. The entire cast of characters are beautifully done and have larger-than-life moments (such as Burrich and Verity) but at the same time are vulnerable humans who react as real people do. The fantasy elements contain no truly original elements, but are combined in a way that makes suspension of disbelief effortless and that enhances the story rather than distracting you from it.

When I read these books first, I thought the unbelievable amount of suffering that Fitz went through was hard to read, but made for a wonderful story. Frankly, in the fantasy genre there are too many books which don't subject their protagonist to any real strain, equipping them with Plot Armor which allows superficial harm to be inflicted on them but maintains their powers intact. The stuff Fitz goes through definitely qualifies as hard to watch - particularly since so much of it is inflicted by Regal, whom the world would be better off without and who seems to get away with heinous crimes while Fitz gets railed for putting a toe over the line. That's part of the story, though - the Farseer men are too loyal to each other to see the harm being wreaked by one of their own.

After reading other works by Hobb, though, particularly the Soldier Son series (Oh me yarm), I do have to say that she seems to relish putting her characters through hell on earth. It seems to work for her, though, and if there is one theme in literature that is worth exploring, it is how ordinary men and women change and grow under terrible suffering. Soldier Son is also a great look at what it does to a man to have deeply divided loyalties, and to be conditioned to behave one way while one's nature inclines another way. (There's one that's relevant to the modern world for you.)

Also, Nighteyes, dude. One of my favorite characters ever. <3

Oh, and I have read all the existing Song of Ice and Fire books, and I liked them but I felt like the characters in Hobb's stuff were a zillion times more vibrant. I would say that Hobb, Orson Scott Card, and Pat Rothfuss are the three best character writers I have encountered in fantasy, with George RR Martin's strengths being fascinating plot devices and worldbuilding rather than characters.

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby gfile-destroyer » Wed May 18, 2011 11:17 am UTC

Up there in my favorite trilogies of all time. I was suffering some pretty bad physical stuff at the time I read this, and maybe some of you consider Fitz thoughts as being whining or you can't understand them, but I have to say I could relate quite strongly. I wasn't surprised to read that Hobb has talked at length with real people about their physical injuries and what is was like to live with/through them. The injuries seemed very realistic too me, more so than just about anything else Ive ever read in fantasy. Of course all of that is just a small piece out of what I appreciated about this book. I thought the plot was complex and not easily predictable, the character development was the best I've ever read, the magic system was well done and not something I've read before, and
Spoiler:
I found it very inspiring how Fitz persevered and managed to find happiness despite everything he'd had to suffer through.
. I agree the world the story was built in wasn't amazing, but I think it served well enough.

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Amalith
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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby Amalith » Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:33 pm UTC

I just finished reading these books, and I'm rather impressed. I'm not sure I'd call it the best fantasy around, but I certainly enjoyed reading the books greatly, and they're definitely highly recommended by me. Some of the characters do seem a little more real in this book, and not everything has to be epic fantasy all the time just to keep the book rolling, and not everyone has to be perfect. I actually really liked the world that was established. Sure, she didn't go super in depth to creating every detail of the world, and it may have been oddly lacking, perhaps, in the main area of the books, the Six Duchies, but overall I thought it was interesting enough, especially coupled with the magic system and some of the mystery behind it.

ImTestingSleeping wrote:I think it may be my favorite series in the genre. In the fantasy genre, you often see "Oh it had good plot, but it lacked X..." or "Oh it had good characterization, but it missed on Y..." People ask for book recommendations which have certain characteristics. I feel like Robin Hobb has created a world and a series which delivers in X, Y, and Z. Hell, we'd run out of alphabet.

In particular, I'd say that the Skill and the Wit were wonderful. Handling "magic" in novels seems to be one of the hardest tasks for an author. I love how she did it. At no point did I think Fitz was just pulling rabbits out of his hat. Well....

Spoiler:
The whole "by the way, you can like jump into Nighteyes body and go back if you wants lol. Kk!?" kinda upset me. It was extremely important to the book's plot to have him die, be forgotten, and come back but I wish that piece of information was divulged earlier in the book so it didn't seem so gimmicky.


I agree with most of your post, the magic system is well done and seems to fit together well, and I think you're right: it's a good, well-rounded fantasy book. As for your spoiler...
Spoiler:
While it certainly was a Deus Ex Machina, I think it worked together well. Fitz knows very little both of the powers of the skill and the wit, as is clearly seen in later. Sure, it would have been nice to know about humans being able to live inside animal bodies beforehand, but I feel the whole situation is sufficiently explained down the road.

I do have a similar point, if perhaps the opposite direction, that I'd complain slightly about (Tawny Man trilogy spoilers this time)
Spoiler:
By the end of the series, the true powers of both the skill and wit have been revealed to much more powerful, causing so many miraculous comebacks and saves, that it almost seems oddly forced to explain away a death as "sorry, dead Chivalry is too strong, and I don't know how to use my wit that way" It didn't even seem to be a struggle against [character name]'s death, just a quick nope, can't be done, let's move on. I understand the death from a plot perspective, and his dying itself was done well enough, though I think the ending may have been more interesting had he lived, even if it wouldn't be the same happily ever after for Fitz


I think I'm gonna have to read Robin Hobb's other books now.

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby Nat » Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:06 pm UTC

When you think about it, Burrich is probably the manliest guy ever.

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Re: Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies

Postby PeteP » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:36 am UTC

Just reading the third book of the first trilogy
Spoiler:
At the moment I'm reading the scene where the fool behaves somewhat oddly and ask him where Molly lives and Fitz actually answers him. I think it's one of the most annoying things in books if characters are oblivious to obvious things. Sure Fitz never was the sharpest in the shed but seriously it's not that long ago that you were warned that the coterie might try to get into his mind again. But does Fitz even consider that something might be wrong? Naturally not... Though I didn't read much farther than that maybe I'm wrong and he didn't just give that information to his enemies.(yeah right...)


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