The Tawny Man Trilogy – Robin Hobb

For the last month or so, I’ve been caught between three books. I started Books v. Cigarettes by George Orwell, thinking I’d take a break from trilogies for a while, then joined DolceBellezza for a read-along of Little, Big, by John Crowley which I abandoned after reading about 10% of the story on my Kindle (I blame the Kindle, naturally) before deciding I really can’t wait to find out what happens to Fitz and so went back to the next trilogy that follows him on his adventures.

I strongly recommend you read my review of The Farseer Trilogy before continuing with this one. I have tried to stay away from major spoilers – you’ll find more by reading the blurbs on the back covers of the books themselves.

TM1   TM2 TM3

After the end of the Red Ship Wars, Fitz disappears. His role in aiding the Farseer line seems to have been completed – the Outislanders commanding the Red Ships have been defeated, and the people of the Six Duchies are slowly rebuilding their lives. A new heir is to be born to the ruling house of the Farseers, and although King-In-Waiting Verity is no more, the future seems to run on a promising course again.
For fifteen years, Fitz lives in seclusion together with his wolf Nighteyes and later on, Hap joins them. He’s an orphan boy Fitz adopts as his own. Then, his old mentor, Chade, comes for a visit and brings dark tidings. Once again, the Farseer throne is in jeopardy and Fitz is required for a mission. He has to find the missing prince, Dutiful, and restore him to Buckkeep Castle before a delegation from the Out Islands arrives with his betrothed, Narcheska Elliania. After being at war for years, the marriage between the prince and the Narcheska is the key to a long lasting peace.

Book One is about retrieving prince Dutiful from the hands of his captors. This will once again bring together Fitz and The Fool who together with Chade, must act to bring Dutiful back alive. It will also be a time of loss – Nighteyes is dead. By the start of Book Two, Fitz is mourning the loss of his wolf companion but he doesn’t have time to do so for long as a new challenge presents itself – he must accompany the prince and the Narcheska to the cold icy island of Aslevjal, where Dutiful has to cut off the head of the dragon Icefyre and bring it to Elliania’s family if he is to win her hand in marriage.
In Book Three, a small group of people make it to Aslevjal. It’s a cold and dismal place, and finding Icefyre is no easy feat. They encounter an enemy and an unexpected friend, and when they finally complete their task, it’s not exactly as they planned. All I can say without giving away spoilers is that at the end everybody comes out with what they wanted.

The Fool has a much more active role in this trilogy. Although he remains a mystery, some details about his past emerge, enough to fit the puzzles of the story together but not all of them. His many faceted personality and ability to transform himself serves him well, as he has made a transition from King Shred’s Fool to rich Lord Golden, an exotic man with a penchant for flashy clothes and witty conversation. His friendship with Fitz will suffer, but like a wound, it bleeds and then closes, leaving them both with a new outlook on their relationship and bringing them even closer. As it was stated in The Farseer Trilogy, The White Prophet (The Fool) and his Catalyst (Fitz) can change the world and this they do, setting it on a new course.

I liked Book Three the best. The revelations, the decisions, the harsh conditions and challenges that Fitz and The Fool have to face made me read most of it during last weekend. Although I’ve enjoyed The Farseer Trilogy more, that could also be because it was a new story. Now, I feel like I already know the characters to some extent which made it possible to see ahead in the story, but I guess that is to be expected. There were enough turns and twists in the last book to satisfy the pickiest reader, even one with an appetite for drama like myself. I was happy for Fitz because in the end he got what he desired most even if it had to come with the price of one good friend and a lot of heartache. A little too convenient but it fit the story nevertheless.

If in The Farseer Trilogy I liked The Mountain Kingdom, this time I was intrigued by the customs of the Outislanders. Their world could not have been more different than that of the Six Duchies. According to their customs, men were raiders, going out to the sea to plunder other lands, while women owned the land passed on through maternal line. Women had the power to make the important decisions, and they were organized into “mothershouses”, each belonging to a clan, living in tight-knitted communities. Paternity was not an issue as children were seen as belonging to a house rather than to a man, and the women were the ones who choose their partner and how long they lived together.

As usual, magic was represented by The Wit and The Skill, two very special abilities that could allow people who possess them to bond with an animal (those people are called “Witted”) and to communicate and even influence and heal others or travel through special pillars to distant places for those who possess the gift of “skilling”. There are those who have either one or the other and those who have both. Thick, Chade’s aide, a “half-wit”, has strong skilling powers, and while he can be difficult at times, he can also be funny.

Another interesting aspect of the story is the presence of dragons. The Fool sees them as the only animal more powerful than man and he’s determined to do anything in his power to see them restored to earth. Without them, he thinks there is no balance and man becomes the most powerful creature, something he wants to prevent at all costs. I found the idea intriguing and I’m curious to see what will happen to the dragons in the next three books.

Now I’ll have to wait patiently for the next trilogy to be completed – “The Fitz and The Fool” is still a work in progress but I was very excited to find out from Goodreads that the second book in the trilogy is coming out this year and the last one in 2016. I’m really looking forward to reading them.

oncetimenine250 I’ve read this for the Once Upon a Time event hosted by Carl@stainlesssteeldroppings.

Read in: April-May 2015
My rating: 4.5 stars

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8 Responses to The Tawny Man Trilogy – Robin Hobb

  1. Bellezza says:

    My son likes the type of trilogy you reviewed very much, so I will pass that on to him.

    As for Little, Big I can imagine that having it on the kindle would be a bit tricky. You can’t refer to the list of characters (mapped out at the beginning) very easily, nor can I envision seeing the little chapter titles within a larger chapter. I’m glad you tried though, and perhaps some day you can pick it up again in a paper form. The first time I tried I stopped halfway through, about four years ago, but I’m glad I finished to the end this time. It is a book with many overarching themes within a faerie-like setting, and I enjoyed it very much.

    • Delia says:

      That’s great Bellezza, I hope he enjoys this one. It’s probably the best fantasy series I have read so far. I would recommend this to any fan of the genre.

      Little, Big is definitely not a book to be read on the Kindle, I had to learn this the hard way. If I come across a paperback I’ll give it another try.

  2. Vishy says:

    Glad to know that you liked the second trilogy in the series, Delia. So sad that Nighteyes dies in this trilogy. He was a really loveable character from what you wrote in your previous review. Does Fitz get a new wolf companion? It is nice to know that everyone gets what they want in the end.

    Sorry to know that your ‘Little, Big’ readalong didn’t go well. Sometimes that happens. Hope your next readalong is better.

    • Delia says:

      It was wonderful, Vishy. Nighteyes certainly brought something different to the story, I loved all the scenes he was in. I can’t tell you if he gets another companion but I had a lot of fun reading about a cat named Fennel – so different from the wolf, and a ferret with a fondness for sausages. 🙂

      I’m sorry about that one too. It’s the first read-along I had to give up on, but hopefully I can give it another go once I find the paper version. Funny how the Kindle sometimes just doesn’t work, especially when you have to go back and check things.

  3. Brian Joseph says:

    These intricate series where entire fantasy worlds are constructed by the author can be such fun to read. It has been a long time since I have delved into one but there was a time when I read them very frequently.

    This one sounds really good.

    • Delia says:

      This is one world I was glad to keep coming to, Brian. But it can also be all-consuming. Life becomes this thing you have to get back to when all you want is to sit somewhere comfortable and read all day. Luckily that’s what weekends are for.
      Any titles you would recommend?

  4. Caroline says:

    So often people say that only the first book in a series or trilogy is good, so I’m glad to hear that thi isn’t the case with this series. It sould like she getting better and better.
    I started Little, Big as well – I gave up on Kushiel’s Dart – and stopped reading after 50 pages or so, although it’s pretty amazing. But I just can’t read such long novels these days. Funny enough, I can read trilogies or series, even if they end up being longer.
    I ordered the first in the Farceur Trilogy but there’s no telling when I’ll get to it.

    • Delia says:

      So far I liked the third book the best in both trilogies but all six books are great, especially The Farseer Trilogy. I’m glad you’d like to read it too. It would be nice to see how you like it.

      I think Little, Big is a pretty demanding book, you have to have patience and go slow. It definitely requires a certain state of mind.
      Why did you stop reading Kushiel’s Dart? I remember you being excited about the book.

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