The Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Read Sept 17 2017 – June 15, 2018
Books 7-9 in the Realm of the Elderlings world
Spoilery blabber, also spoilers for the Farseer and Liveship Traders trilogies.
I finished these books almost a month ago and it’s taken me this long to collect my thoughts on them. Robin Hobb is a master at taking your emotions and twisting them into knots.
This trilogy was a culmination about everything I loved from the previous two series in the overarching one. It broke my heart and mended it and broke it and mended it so many times. Over and over, I found myself agonizing and then rejoicing just a few chapters later. Ugh, I’m not going to be over this one for a long time. This is the reason why it took me so long to be able to write something that actually sounded semi-coherent.
The first book begins with Fitz being summoned out of his secluded life to retrieve Prince Dutiful, who has been whisked away by the Piebalds. One of my favorite parts of this series occurred before that, when the Fool came to retrieve Fitz in the first place – the two stayed at Fitz’s home for a while before departing, and the care free easiness the two displayed for each other, the deepness of their bond, was wonderful to read about. I’d read an entire series of the Fool just being around Fitz. (If you can’t tell, the Fool is my favorite character. He’s my little bean.)
Once the main plot picks up, new characters are introduced, old ones are reintroduced, and a sense of nostalgia takes hold. I didn’t realize how much I missed reading about Fitz, The Fool, Kettricken and everyone else until I was able to do so again.
Out of the three, I think the first book is my least favorite. I’m not saying it was bad by any means – it still got 5 stars from me – I just loved the other two all the more. The first book was largely a set-up book in my mind. The errand that Fitz departs on to retrieve Dutiful was a bit aggravating to me, and the reasoning behind Dutiful’s disappearance in the first place had me grinding my teeth. Dutiful’s absolute obsession with the woman-cat left a bad impression about him for me. I can understand why he did it, but the teenage trope of ‘I know exactly what I’m doing, I don’t care if you’re older and wiser’ bugged me. It bugged me when Fitz was a teenager in the original trilogy and it bugged me now. The rest of the characters and the plot made up for it though, and the fact that Dutiful himself quickly learns his lesson and then is much better at squashing out that ideology in himself afterward than Fitz ever was really helped as well.
The second book is probably my favorite, and that’s because The Fool gets so much screen time. I love reading about his character, his motivations and learning about his past. Each persona he takes on as well, is a joy to read about. When Fitz discovered that one of The Fool’s personas was Amber, a woman who had basically declared her love for Fitz by carving Paragon’s face to look like him, Fitz took it as a personal insult, which… really annoyed me.
Fitz is the type of character that I love but I can easily be annoyed by at the same time. And it’s not that his character is badly or inconsistently written, it’s that he has this poor impulse control when it comes to jumping to conclusions. He gets petty in a way that irritates me because I know he can do better. It’s like he’s acting in a way that is below him, and it’s aggravating that he doesn’t take time to just stop and think ‘hey maybe this wasn’t about deceiving me at all and people are allowed to have parts of themselves they don’t tell me about’. But nope, Fitz is a bit self-centered, and that flaw in his character is both what makes him feel real and what makes him a butt head sometimes.
The Fool however, is wonderful in this one. He recognizes this flaw in Fitz and calls him out on it. It’s just so wonderful to read, The Fool sticking up for himself and his actions. It causes a bit of strife between the two, but it also allows Fitz to realize what I said above, that The Fool doesn’t owe him every aspect of himself. It’s so refreshing to see two characters in a complex disagreement come to terms with it.
And that ending, man. The ending of Golden Fool, where Fitz called The Fool ‘Beloved’, just melted me. The Fool’s reaction, covering his mouth briefly with his hand, as if he wasn’t sure if he was hiding a smile or trying to keep himself from crying… just. Sigh, The Fool is my favorite. I loved that scene. I think this scene is that one that made Golden Fool my favorite in the trilogy.
And the final book in the series, Fool’s Fate, is the one that really sent me on a roller coaster of emotion. The amount of times that this book had me near (or actually reaching) tears, and then turned around and went ‘no it’s okay, be happy’ only to rip that happiness out from under me again was insane. I feel like this is one of the most solid endings to a trilogy that I’ve read in a long time. Everything wrapped up nicely – not everything happily mind you – but nicely enough that I felt rather satisfied with the ending. It left me knowing most of the characters were in more or less a good place, but that the next trilogy concerning them (which I’m totally looking forward to) could easily take that all away from them again.
I’m even weirdly okay with Molly coming back into the picture and being with Fitz. For a long time, I wasn’t. Burrich and Fitz were going back and forth about her when they were on Icefyre’s island and I’m sitting there going ‘Nobody is asking what she wants, dammit’. And then when she finally shows up, she calls Fitz out on that – I really love Robin Hobb for this. I’ve read too many books where the love interest is just like ‘I’ll wait to see who claims me’ instead of actually forming an opinion and even getting offended over the idea of two people deciding who will get them. I like adult Molly in this series – she’s very opinionated, strong-minded and has her family’s best interest at heart. I feel like I’ll like her just as much in the next trilogy that she’s in.
Overall, this trilogy was just amazing. Any irritation I had with it turned out to be included in the plot and was at a point called out and corrected. I adored it. I cannot wait until the next series.
5/5 stars each
Side note: I learned two things reading this. 1 – I need to start using tabs while reading if I intend to review. There was so much material I feel like I’ve forgotten the details of and therefore couldn’t mention. 2 – books like this basically need a buddy reader. I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much enjoyment out of them if I couldn’t yap at Zezee about them all the time (so thanks friendo :D).