Favourite Supporting Characters II

The most memorable characters tend to be the protagonists. However, books are far more engrossing when their supporting characters are as realistic, complex and engaging. Per definition, secondary characters are not the focus of the main storyline, but they are still essential for our enjoyment of a story.

Since writing my first post about my favourite supporting characters, around four years ago, I’ve discovered a few more who are as remarkable. Daphne du Maurier created three of them, which is unsurprising considering her talent.

 

Richard Grenville – The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier

Although Richard Grenville isn’t the protagonist of The King’s General, he is a critical character in the story. Honor Harris, the protagonist, explains why she fell in love with him. Their interactions, particularly at the beginning of the book, are amusing, charming and captivating. His actions are both kind and shameful. He is sarcastic, wild and careless with his finances. Continue reading

Plan to Read Robin Hobb’s Books in Order

Under the pen name Robin Hobb, Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden wrote five book series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. When I finished my first book by Robin Hobb, I was inclined to only read the series that have Fitz as a central character. I’ve changed my mind, though! The last book in The Farseer Trilogy (the first published series set in this fictional world and that comprises Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest) left me eager to read all subsequent series as soon as possible, since it features elements that I feel will be further explored later on.

I’ve decided to draw a plan to read the remaining four series in order of publication until the end of 2023. This is not a fixed goal. It’s more of a guiding strategy that I may change at any time to suit my reading wishes. The dates mentioned are not set in stone.

 

The Liveship Traders Trilogy

Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies (the main location of The Farseer Trilogy), The Liveship Traders Trilogy is full of pirates and talking ships. These special ships are made of wizardwood, a material that can only be found in the Rain Wilds. To get there, one has to sail the Rain Wild River, something only a liveship has the power to do. My plan is to read the three books in this series until the end of the year: Ship of Magic in August, The Mad Ship in October and Ship of Destiny in December. Continue reading

Book Series I’ve Recently Finished

Starting a book series can be a daunting experience, particularly when it is longer than three books and they are massive. When a series doesn’t have a clear direction, a well thought out beginning, middle and end, it can feel like the author is only still writing it because it was originally successful. It becomes a chore to read book after book just to get to the end of a story that we lost interest in mid-way through. However, some book series, in spite of our original reservations, prove to be a delightful journey to a new world or an immersive exploration of realistic characters.

I’ve recently finished four book series that were, overall, a joy to read. They are all very different from one another, despite two of them falling into the fantasy genre.

 

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb wrote five fantasy series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. The Farseer Trilogy is the first one. Set mainly in the Six Duchies, a kingdom ruled by the Farseers, it has as narrator and main character the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, Fitz, who is for the most part a convincing character and not an unflawed hero. He was both trained as an assassin and in the traditional magic of the family – the Skill. He also soon realised that he could establish a close bond with animals. Though for a while he didn’t know what that meant, he had the power of the beast blood – the Wit. This is a story that delves into court intrigue, lust for power, the difference between duty and self-indulgence, while also believably exploring various human emotions. Continue reading

‘Assassin’s Quest’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

The Six Duchies and their neighbouring territories may be part of a fictional world, but they truly come to life in Assassin’s Quest, the last book in The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. Although the pacing is not always perfect, it has a well-defined direction since the beginning, which isn’t the case of the previous instalment, Royal Assassin. Through Fitz’s narration, it delves into the difference between duty and greed for power, a theme already touched on in the first book in the trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice. Such an immersive read is a welcome invitation to continue to explore the Realm of the Elderlings.

In the prologue of the book, a much older Fitz muses about his past, what he suffered at Regal’s hands and the kindness that Lady Patience, his father’s wife, showed him on many occasions. He is still unsure about whether he should have thanked Burrich and Chade for what they did or not. The role of narrator is then assumed by a younger Fitz. He recalls how he escaped his prior predicament, and readers are reminded of the final events of the previous book.

Fitz resented never having been able to make his own decisions. But was this true? Chade tried to make him see that he had always done that. If he had strictly followed the orders he had been given, events wouldn’t have taken place in the way they did. He had always acted as a boy. It was time to grow up, though. Burrich decided that it was best for them to follow separate paths. Continue reading

‘Royal Assassin’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

Long books can be just the perfect size. Either the stories within couldn’t possibly be told in fewer pages or the pacing is so exquisite that they never feel dull. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Royal Assassin, the second book in The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. In fact, it could have been an outstanding fantasy book had it been much shorter. For almost half of it, the pacing is lopsided and the plot doesn’t seem to have a defined, clear direction. The rest of the novel, however, is superb, enthralling and affecting.

Following the events of Assassin’s Apprentice and what Prince Regal had done to him, Fitz was left wondering whether he should return to Buckkeep or not. He also questioned what to do regarding Molly. Not being sure about which path to take, he told Burrich to return to Buckkeep while he continued to recover. Nevertheless, after learning through a vision that Siltbay, the town Molly was in, was being raided, he decided to return with Burrich after all.

Not only was he then reunited with Verity (one of the few people who knew what Regal had done) and Patience, but he was also surprised to discover that Molly was at the keep as well, working as a maid. She had gone to Siltbay to help some relatives with the harvest. After the town was raided, however, she returned to ask for his help. It was only then that she learnt that he was not the scriber’s boy but the bastard of Prince Chivalry. She felt betrayed. Continue reading

Book Series – What I’m Reading

Reading book series is a great way to become fully immersed in a fictional world. I’m currently sinking my teeth into five book series and, until I finish at least one of them, I don’t plan to start a new one. Whenever I complete a book series, the plan is to replace it with another one of those on my wish list. I’m only mentioning on this post the series that I’m not caught up on (reason why the list below doesn’t feature A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin) and that I want to finish.

 

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

This is the first trilogy in a larger fantasy series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. So far, I’ve only read the first book, Assassin’s Apprentice, which is set in the Six Duchies, a land ruled by the Farseers. Fitz, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, is trained as an assassin and in the traditional magic of the Farseer family – the Skill. Not only is this book full of court intrigue, it also delves into various human emotions.

After finishing this trilogy, I’ll certainly read the other series set in the same world. Although I considered the possibility of reading all the series featuring Fitz first and only afterwards picking up the remaining ones, I’m now more inclined to read them in order of publication. Continue reading

‘Assassin’s Apprentice’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

Fantasy novels aren’t merely a vessel to transport readers to a world full of magic. Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book in The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, deals with very true-to-life topics. Not only is this a story about court intrigue and lust for power, but it also delves into human emotions in a believable way. Set in the Six Duchies, which are ruled by the Farseers, this is the first introduction to a meticulously imagined world that begs to be discovered and savoured.

When the narrator was six years old, he was left by his grandfather at the castle of the town where they lived in. He was the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, the Crown Prince, who, according to the old man, was aware that he had got his daughter pregnant. A guard took him to Prince Verity, who then ordered him to be fed and taken someplace where he could sleep until he decided what was to be done with him. For some weeks, he slept at the stables and was taken care of by Burrich, who at the time was his father’s man. He was later taken to Buckkeep without ever knowing Chivalry.

His existence complicated the line of succession. Prince Chivalry was married to Lady Patience, but they didn’t have a child together, as neither of her pregnancies had lasted the full term. He, thus, ended up abdicating the throne, and Verity assumed his place. At first, the political aspects of the book are just hinted at. The political machinations that took place among the royal family can be inferred from the conversations between the characters. They become more obvious as the story progresses. Continue reading