A post at tor.com: Assassins, Pirates, or Dragons: Where to Start With the Work of Robin Hobb
This is one I can’t really weigh in on, because I haven’t read all that much by Hobb . . . oh, wait, yes I kind of can, because I have strong opinions anyway. Here are the series —
The Farseer trilogy, which I haven’t read, but which starts with Assassin’s Apprentice and includes four books; the Soldier Son trilogy, which starts with Shamen’s Crossing and which I haven’t read because it sounds grim grim grim and I don’t think I’ll ever be in the mood for that much grim; the Tawny Man Trilogy, which I haven’t read, which starts with Fool’s Errand.
And then the series I actually have read:
The Liveship Trader’s trilogy, which I liked, I guess …
The Dragon quadrilogy, which I liked quite a bit …
And The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy, which starts with Fool’s Assassin; I read most of that one before giving up on it …
Plus this one, which I also haven’t read but which has an interesting horse on the cover:
Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, and granted that I’ve read just three of the series, the correct place to start is with the dragons.
Pluses of the dragon quadrilogy:
Most of the characters who are supposed to be intelligent and competent, are in fact at least reasonably intelligent and competent. Most of the point-of-view characters with whom we spend a lot of time are pretty decent sorts and some are really engaging. Plus, there are dragons.
Minuses: It’s a pretty slow-paced series and the dragons are not necessarily cast in the Special Telepathic Friend category of dragons. (This is also a plus, really.)
Pluses of the Liveship series:
It’s extremely well written and often engaging.
Minuses: Many (all?) of the characters who are supposed to be intelligent and competent ARE CRIPPLINGLY IMMATURE AND TOTALLY IDIOTIC. This is hard to get past.
Pluses of Fitz and the Fool:
I know, I know, it’s not fair to start here without having read the Assassin series and the Tawny man series. I will say, in fact, that the post at tor.com specifically says that Fool’s Assassin is not the place to start.
But as far as I’m concerned, there aren’t any pluses for Fool’s Assassin. The main protagonist is portrayed as both incredibly incompetent and incredibly stupid. In the opening scene, he showcases the former trait, as all sorts of people crash a party at his house, some of them assassins and some of them targets, and he completely fails to deal effectively with anything. In the later part of the book, when his post-menopausal wife is pregnant for two years and then bears a very tiny child, he is incapable of connecting the obvious dots and concluding that maybe his daughter is not supposed to be entirely normal.
Also, my goodness, the pace is simply glacial. I may like a slow-paced story, but there are limits and this novel goes waaaaaaay past them. It didn’t help that I was listening to it rather than reading it. I got within just a few chapters of the end and just could not bring myself to care how it ended.
Chime in, please! I haven’t really had the nerve to try anything else by Hobb since bouncing SO HARD off Fool’s Assassin. If you’ve read some that I haven’t, thumbs up or thumbs down? If you’ve read the intro series before Fool’s Assassin, did that background serve to make Fool’s Assassin more tolerable, as indicated by the tor.com post?