Robin Hobb biography
Robin Hobb is a US fantasy writer, best known for her trilogies set in The Realm of the Elderlings. Readers were first introduced to that world with the publication of Assassin’s Apprentice, the first volume of The Farseer Trilogy, in 1995. The story is told in the first person from the point of view of FitzChivalry Farseer, an illegitimate scion of the royal family, during a time when the Six Duchies are being attacked by warships from the OutIslands. The boy grows up being trained as an assassin, but soon claims a place as a warrior as well. The influence of an enigmatic prophet, the Fool, forces young Fitz into a role that will influence the destiny of the entire Six Duchies. The trilogy was completed with Royal Assassin in 1996 and Assassin’s Quest in 1997. All three were nominated for the British Fantasy Society’s 'best fantasy' award. First published in the US, the books quickly appeared in the UK and Australia as well, and are now widely translated throughout the world, including France, Spain, Israel, China, Russia, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, and Japan.
The Farseer Trilogy was followed by The Liveship Traders trilogy, a tale set in the same world, but in Bingtown, a trading city far to the south. Chronologically, these stories occur after the events of The Farseer Trilogy and are influenced by the events Fitz has set in motion. Ship of Magic (1998), Mad Ship (1999) and Ship of Destiny (2000) comprise that trilogy. This multi-character tale follows the adventures of the Liveship Vivacia as the magical ship comes to consciousness, and is taken over first as a slave ship and then as a pirate vessel. The emergence of sentient sea serpents that have a connection to the living ships alters the course of Bingtown’s war with Chalced and their subservience to Jamaillia. But it will exact a price as well. Ship of Magic and Mad Ship were both nominees for the Endeavor Award, presented to novels based on the Pacific North West or written by authors who live in that region.
After the Liveship Traders trilogy, Hobb returned to the tale of Fitz and the Fool with a new set of books entitled The Tawny Man trilogy. Fitz, left in peace and solitude at the end of The Farseer trilogy, is forced to return to serve his family once more as the Fool returns from his adventures in Bingtown to enlist his aid in once more changing the world. The two characters are reunited in Fool’s Errand (2001) followed by Golden Fool (2003) and Fools Fate (2004). In 2003, Robin Hobb was honoured with the Elf Fantasy Award, a statuette created by Wendy Pini, at Elf Fantasy Fair. Other awards for Robin Hobb’s work include Imaginales Best Short Story award in 2006 for her tale The Inheritance.
Departing from The Realm of the Elderlings, Hobb moved on to a ‘gunpowder fantasy’ entitled The Soldier Son Trilogy. Set in a world politically divided between old and new nobility, where a man’s life is determined by his birth order, Nevare knows from childhood that he is destined to be a soldier and a cavalry officer. He is born into a time of expansion and new technology, from gas lights to more sophisticated firearms. But when his father entrusts him to the honor of an old enemy for training, Nevare is infected with a magic indigenous to the lands and the conquered people. He soon finds his well mapped future derailed as the magic changes him both physically and mentally, ultimately forcing him to lead a double life. Shaman’s Crossing (2005), Forest Mage (2006) and Renegade’s Magic (2007) make up the Soldier Son Trilogy. Shaman’s Crossing was honoured in 2007 in the Best Foreign Novel category at Imaginales in Epinal, France. Renegade’s Magic won the Endeavor Award for 2007.
Robin Hobb’s most recent work is a four part tale, the Rain Wild Chronicles. Dragon Keeper, published in 2009, returns to the Rain Wilds, one of the settings from The Liveship Traders trilogy, to pick up the tale of the denizens of that toxic and wild region, and the fate of the dragons who hatched there. Told from multiple points of view, the story moves between the tale of Alise, a genteel Bingtown woman and dragon scholar who is determined to visit the Rain Wilds and see dragons for herself, and Thymara, a girl of the Rain Wilds, born so changed by her exposure to the environment there that she is deemed too deformed to be allowed to marry or reproduce. Recruited instead as a dragon keeper, she joins a company of other similarly changed youngsters to accompany a motley horde of dragons up the Rain Wild River in hopes of finding a better place for the dragons in that unexplored territory. Keepers and dragons are both changed by that adventure and by their association with one another. The four volumes of the Rain Wild Chronicles are Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven (2010), City of Dragons (forthcoming in 2012) and Dragon’s Blood, expected in 2013. Some characters from The Liveship Trader Trilogy reappear in the Rain Wild Chronicles.
Robin Hobb currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, dividing her time between a house in the city of Tacoma and a small ‘pocket farm’ in the tiny town of Roy where she is venturing into organic farming on a very small scale.
Robin Hobb was born in Oakland, California and spent the first decade of her life in sunny California. In the early sixties, she and her family left the suburbs of San Rafael and moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where they renovated a run-down log house. The change in lifestyle was sudden and dramatic. They went from grocery stores and sidewalks to a gravel road and meat on the hoof. There she learned to hunt and fish and to value the companionship of her wolf-dog hybrid, in addition to learning the skills needed for self-sufficient house maintenance such as plumbing, wiring, and insulation. The family created a large garden and erected a meat cache in the front yard. In the summers when the cache was not in use for storing frozen moose meat, it became her first private place to work on writing.
She graduated from high school at 17 in 1969. After a brief stint at Denver University, she married Fred Ogden and followed her husband to his hometown of Kodiak, Alaska. There they lived at Chiniak village near a satellite tracking facility on Kodiak Island, before moving on to Pocatello Idaho to complete their educations. They have lived in various locations in the Pacific Northwest since then, finally settling in Tacoma, Washington. She and her husband Fred have four grown offspring and three grandchildren. Their current interests include time on the water in their small vessel Charmante, organic gardening on their pocket farm, and operating a small judo dojo in Roy, Washington.
Robin Hobb began her writing career as Megan Lindholm. A prolific scribbler in her high school years, she first began submitting fiction and poetry to magazines in the 1970’s. In the 70’s and 80’s she wrote for local newspapers (The Kodiak Times and the Kodiak Fish Wrapper and Litter Box Liner) and for various children’s magazines such as Humpty Dumpty and Highlights for Children. Her short story, “The Poaching,” was awarded a grant by the Alaska Council for the Arts and was republished in an anthology, Finding our Boundaries, in 1979. In the late seventies, she moved from writing children’s stories into the realm of fantasy and SF. She published short works in several ‘fanzines’ of the day, notably Space and Time edited by Gordon Linzner. In 1982, she sold her first novel, Harpy’s Flight. It featured characters who had first appeared in a short story, “Bones for Dulath” in an anthology entitled AMAZONS! edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson. AMAZONS! won the 1980 World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology and helped her work to reach a wider readership. As Megan Lindholm, she went on to publish ten novels, including The Gypsy, a collaboration with Steven Brust and numerous short stories. She was a participant in the shared world of Liavek throughout the mid-eighties, collaborating with Brust on several short stories. Her best known work as Megan Lindholm is Wizard of the Pigeons, an urban fantasy set in Seattle. She wrote numerous short stories as well that have been featured in magazines and anthologies. Her works have been finalists for the Nebula, the Hugo, and the Theodore Sturgeon award. In 1990, A Touch of Lavender won the Asimov’s Reader Award as well as being a finalist for both the Hugo and the Nebula. Her works as Megan Lindholm have been widely translated and have been very popular in The Netherlands and France. In 2004, the translation of Wizard of the Pigeons won the Best Novel Award at Imaginales in Epinal, France.
In 1995, she launched a parallel career under the pseudonym Robin Hobb, to publish epic fantasy written in a style that is very different from her style as Megan Lindholm. As Megan Lindholm, she continues to write and publish short stories. The collection The Inheritance (2011) features shorter works by both Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm. Forthcoming stories by Megan Lindholm include “Neighbors” for the anthology Dangerous Women (2012) and “Old Paint” to be published in a future issue of Asimov’s.
More information about Megan Lindholm and Robin Hobb can be found at the following sites:
- http://www.theplenty.net (a fan run wiki site)
Both Megan Lindholm and Robin Hobb are active on Facebook and LiveJournal. Robin Hobb has a newsgroup on sff.net and checks there daily to answer questions and interact with readers. http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=xover&group=sff.people.robin-hobb&from=41442. The Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm Yuku site is http://robinhobbmeganlindholm.yuku.com/. The French fansite for Robin Hobb is Les Rivages Maudit: http://forum.les-rivages.com. For Italian readers: http://www.bloodmemories.it/.
She can be easily reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Realm of the Elderlings: Farseer Trilogy
- Assassin's Apprentice (1995)
Fitz is a royal bastard, cast out into the world with only his magical link with animals for solace and companionship. But when Fitz is adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and learn a new life; weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly. Meanwhile, raiders ravage the coasts, leaving people soulless. As Fitz grows towards manhood, he will have to face his first terrifying mission, a task that poses as much risk to himself as it does to his target: for Fitz is a threat to the throne! But he may also be the key to the future of the kingdom.
- Royal Assassin (1996)
Fitz dreams of Red-Ship Raiders sacking a coastal village, leaving not a single man, woman or child alive. Tortured by this terrible vision he returns to the Six Duchies court where all is far from well. King Shrewd has been struck down by a mysterious illness and King-in-waiting, Verity, spends all his time attempting to conjure storms to confuse and destroy the Red-Ship Raiders. And when he leaves on an insane mission to seek out the mystical Elderings, Fitz is left alone and friendless but for the wolf Nighteyes and the King's Fool with his cryptic prophesies.
- Assassin's Quest (1997)
Keystone. Gate. Crossroads. Catalyst. Fitz is about to discover the truth about the Fool's prophecy. Having been resurrected from his fatal tortures in Regal's dungeons, Fitz has once more foiled Regal's attempts to be rid of him. Now, back in his own body, and after months of rehabilitation, Fitz begins the painful and slow process of learning the ways of a man again. Under the watchful eye of Burrich, old King Shrewd's Stablemaster, Fitz must learn to cast off the wild but carefree ways of the wolf and enter once more the human world: a world beset ever more viciously by the relentless Red Ship Raiders who are now left free to plunder any coastal town they please. But more immediately, a world in which he finds he is utterly alone. Regal has stripped the kingdom of its riches and retired to the inland city of Tradeford. Of Verity, on his quest to find the legendary Elderings, there has been no word; Molly, Kettricken and the Fool have all vanished. Unless Fitz can find Verity and help him in his quest, the Six Duchies will perish and there will be no safe place to live.
Realm of the Elderlings: Liveship Traders Trilogy
- Ship of Magic (1998)
Wizardwood - a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain River Traders when only a liveship, fashioned from wizardwood, can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? A liveship is a difficult ship to come by. Rare and valuable, it will quicken only when three family members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening, as Althea Vestrit's father is carried to her deck in his death-throes. Althea waits with awe and anticipation for the ship that she loves more than anything in the world to awaken. Only to find that her family has other plans for her... And dark, charming Kennit, aspiring pirate king, also lusts after such a ship: he well knows the power of wizardwood, and has plans of his own...
- Mad Ship (1999)
The magic and mayhem continue in this thrilling second instalment of Hobb's new series. Althea Vestrit has found a new home aboard the liveship Ophelia, but she lives only to reclaim the Vivacia as her rightful inheritance. However, the Vivacia has been captured by the pirate, 'King' Kennit, and is acquiring a keen bloodlust. Meanwhile in Bingtown, the fading fortunes of the Vestrit family lead Malta deeper into the magical secrets of the mysterious Rain Wilds Traders. And just outside Bingtown, Amber dreams of relaunching the Paragon, The Mad Ship!
- Ship of Destiny (2000)
The dragon, Tintaglia, has been released from her wizardwood coffin, only to find that the glories of her kingdom have passed into ancient memory. Meanwhile, Malta Vestrit navigates the acid flow of the Rain Wild River in a decomposing boat, accompanied by the Satrap Cosgo and his Companion Kekki. Against hope, a ship appears in the alien waters, but does it mean rescue, or a further nightmare, for Malta? In ruined Bingtown, the citizens are at war, against the Chalcedean mercenaries besieging the harbour, and also among themselves. If the city is to survive, Ronica Vestrit must unite all its peoples - both Trader and Tattooed - and liberate the city once and for all; but Companion Serilla has a different agenda, and is seeking to establish her own power base. Althea and Brashen are finally at sea together, sailing the liveship Paragon into pirate waters in a last-ditch effort to rescue the Vestrit family liveship, Vivacia, stolen by the Pirate king, Kennit; but there is mutiny brewing in their rag-tag crew; and in the mind of the mad ship itself! Wintrow has liberated She Who Remembers and she can at last fulfil her ancient purpose, but in doing so he has been terribly injured. If Wintrow dies, Kennit fears that Vivacia will lose her fragile sanity: a loss that will also threaten his dreams of power and glory. So he strikes a deal with the ship. And soon the waters around the Vivacia are seething with giant serpents, following the liveship as it sails to its destiny.
Realm of the Elderlings: Tawny Man Trilogy
- Fool's Errand (2001)
Fifteen years have passed and events are about to sweep Fitz out of his quiet backwater life and into the main political current again. Persecution of the Witted has become rampant throughout the Six Duchies despite Queen Kettricken's effort to damp it. The Witted themselves have begun to strike back. So when 15 year old Prince Dutiful disappears, is it only because he is nervous about his betrothal ceremony to an Outislander princess, or has he been taken hostage by the Witted? Worse, is he perhaps another 'Piebald Prince', a Farseer tainted by Wit magic? As the desperate situation worsens, Kettricken has no choice but to summon Fitz to Buckkeep, for who better to track the young prince down than another gifted with the Wit, together with his bonded companion, the wolf Nighteyes?
- Golden Fool (2003)
Fitz has succeeded in rescuing Prince Dutiful from the clutches of the Piebald rebels, and has returned with him to Buckkeep castle. With Dutiful safe again, Queen Kettricken can proceed with plans to marry him to the Outislander princess, Elliania, but with tensions building among the peoples of the Six Duchies over Kettricken's tolerance of the Wittted, even Buckkeep is no longer safe. A reluctant Fitz is assigned to protect the young prince, and also train him in the Skill, and in doing so he finally makes contact not only with his estranged daughter, Nettle, but with someone in Buckkeep who may possess a greater Skill talent than Fitz. And who may represent a terrible threat to the Farseers. Meanwhile, Elliania arrives, and before she will accept Prince Dutiful's betrothal challenges him to undertake an impossible quest. He must kill a legendary Outislander dragon.
- Fool's Fate (2004)
A small and sadly untried coterie - the old assassin Chade, the serving-boy Thick, Prince Dutiful, and his reluctant Skillmaster, Fitz - sail towards the distant island of Aslevjal. There they must fulfil the Narcheska's challenge to her betrothed: to lay the head of the dragon Icefyre, whom legends tell is buried there deep beneath the ice, upon her hearth. Only with the completion of this quest can the marriage proceed, and the resulting alliance signal an end to war between the two kingdoms. It is not a happy ship: tensions between the folk of the Six Duchies and their traditional enemies, the Outislanders, lie just beneath the surface. Thick is constantly ill, and his random but powerful Skilling has taken on a dark and menacing tone, while Chade's fascination with the Skill is growing to the point of obsession. Having ensured that his beloved friend the Fool is safely left behind in Buckkeep, Fitz is guilt-stricken; but he is determined to keep his fate at bay, since prophecy foretells the Fool's death if he ever sets foot on the isle of the black dragon. But as their ship draws in towards Aslevjal a lone figure awaits them!
Soldier Son Trilogy
- Shaman's Crossing (2005)
Young Nevare Burvelle is the second son of a second son. Traditionally in Gernia, the firstborn son is heir to the family fortunes, the second son bears a sword and the third son is consecrated to the priesthood. Nevare will follow his father - newly made a lord by the King - into the cavalry; to the frontier and thence to an advantageous marriage, to carry on the Burvelle name. It is a golden future, and Nevare looks forward to it with relish. For twenty years King Troven's cavalry have pushed the frontiers of Gernia out across the grasslands, subduing the fierce tribes of the plain on its way. Now they have driven the frontier as far as the Barrier Mountains, home to the enigmatic Speck people. The Specks - a dapple-skinned, forest-dwelling folk - retain the last vestiges of magic in a world which is becoming progressive and technologised. The 'civilised' peoples base their beliefs on a rational philosophy founded on scientific principle and a belief in the good god, who displaced the older deities of their world. To them, the Specks are primeval savages, little better than beasts. Superstitions abound; it is said that they harbour strange diseases and worship trees. Sexual congress with them is regarded as both filthy and foolhardy: the Speck plague which has ravaged the frontier has decimated entire regiments. All these beliefs will touch Nevare's training at the Academy; but his progress there is not as simple as he would wish. He will experience prejudice from the old aristocracy: as the son of a 'new noble' he is segregated into a patrol comprising other new nobles' sons, all of whom will encounter injustice, discrimination and foul play in that hostile and deeply competitive environment. In addition, his world view will be challenged by his unconventional girl-cousin Epiny; and by the bizarre dreams which visit him at night. And then, on Dark Evening, the circus comes to Old Thares, bringing with it the first Specks Nevare has ever seen!
- Forest Mage (2006)
The King's Cavalla Academy has been ravaged by the Speck plague. The disease has decimated the ranks of both cadets and instructors, and even the survivors remain sickly. Many have been forced to relinquish their military ambitions and return to their families to face lives of dependency and disappointment. As the Academy infirmary empties, Cadet Nevare Burvelle also prepares to journey home, to attend his brother Rosse's wedding. Far from being a broken man, Nevare is hale and hearty after his convalescence. He has defeated his nemesis, Tree Woman, and freed himself of the Speck magic that infected him and attempted to turn him against his own people. A bright future awaits him as a commissioned officer betrothed to a beautiful young noblewoman. Yet his nights are still haunted by dreams of the voluptuous Tree Woman, dreams in which his Speck self betrays everything he holds dear in his waking life. Has the plague infected him in ways far more mysterious than the merely physical? Despite his fears, Nevare will journey back to Widevale in high spirits, in full expectation of a jubilant homecoming and a tender reunion with his beautiful fiancee, Carsina. But his life is about to take a shocking turn, as the magic in his blood roars to life and forces him to recognize that his most dangerous enemy, an enemy that seeks to destroy all he loves, might dwell within him.
- Renegade's Magic (2007)
The people of Getty's town remember the death of their cemetery soldier vividly. They remember believing him guilty of unspeakable crimes, condemning him, and then watching as other men of his unit beat him until he no longer drew breath. But Nevare Burvelle didn't die that day, though everyone believes they saw it happen. He was cornered by a power far more intractable than an angry mob. When he was a boy, the magic of the Specks - the dapple-skinned tribes of the frontier forests - claimed Nevare as a saviour; severing his soul in two, naming his stolen half Soldier's Boy and shaping him into a weapon to halt the Gernian expansion into their lands and save their beloved ancestor trees. Until now Nevare has defied the magic, unable to accept his traitorous fate. But the magic has won: it has extinguished his once golden future, devastated his family and has now turned his own people against him. Faced with endangering the only loved-ones he has left, Nevare has no choice but to surrender to its will and enter the forest. But surrendering to his Speck destiny is only the beginning of his trials. Before he submits completely, Nevare makes one desperate last attempt to deter the Gernians from the Barrier Mountains without causing them harm. But the magic accepts no compromise. Exhausted, Nevare can no longer suppress his traitorous Speck self, Soldiers Boy. Losing control, he becomes a prisoner in his own body; able only to watch helplessly as his other half takes Soldier's Boy is determined to stop the Gernian expansion at all cost, and unlike Nevare, he has no love, nor sympathy for his spirit-twin's world.
Realm of the Elderlings: Tawny Man Trilogy
- Dragon Keeper (2009)
Guided by the great blue dragon Tintaglia, they came from the sea: a Tangle of serpents fighting their way up the Rain Wilds River, the first to make the perilous journey to the cocooning grounds in generations. Many have died along the way. With its acid waters and impenetrable forest, it is a hard place for any to survive. People are changed by the Rain Wilds, subtly or otherwise. One such is Thymara. Born with black claws and other aberrations, she should have been exposed at birth. But her father saved her and her mother has never forgiven him. Like everyone else, Thymara is fascinated by the return of dragons: it is as if they symbolise the return of hope to their war-torn world. Leftrin, captain of the liveship Tarman, also has an interest in the hatching; as does Bingtown newlywed, Alise Finbok, who has made it her life's work to study all there is to know of dragons. But the creatures which emerge from the cocoons are a travesty of the powerful, shining dragons of old. Stunted and deformed, they cannot fly; some seem witless and bestial. Soon, they become a danger and a burden to the Rain Wilders: something must be done. The dragons claim an ancestral memory of a fabled Elderling city far upriver: perhaps there the dragons will find their true home. But Kelsingra appears on no maps and they cannot get there on their own: a band of dragon keepers, hunters and chroniclers must attend them. To be a dragon keeper is a dangerous job: their charges are vicious and unpredictable, and there are many unknown perils on the journey to a city which may not even exist!
- Dragon Haven (2010)
The dragon keepers and the fledgling dragons are forging a passage up the treacherous Rain Wild River. They are in search of the mythical Elderling city of Kelsingra, and are accompanied by the liveship Tarman, its captain, Leftrin, and a group of hunters who must search the forests for game with which to keep the dragons fed. With them are Alise, who has escaped her cold marriage to the cruel libertine Hest Finbok in order to continue her study of dragons, and Hest's amanuensis, Bingtown dandy, Sedric. Rivalries and romances are already threatening to disrupt the band of explorers: but external forces may prove to be even more dangerous. Chalcedean merchants are keen to lay hands on dragon blood and organs to turn them to medicines and profit. Their traitor has infiltrated the expedition and will stop at nothing to obtain the coveted body parts. And then there are the Rain Wilds themselves: mysterious, unstable and ever perilous, its mighty river running with acid, its jungle impenetrable and its waterways uncharted. Will the expedition reach their destination unscathed? Does the city of Kelsingra even exist? Only one thing is certain: the journey will leave none of the dragons nor their human companions unchanged by the experience.
- City of Dragons (2012)
Kelsingra awaits for those brave enough to enter... The dragons and their keepers have discovered Kelsingra but so far only Heeby has succeeded in flying over the river to enter the fabled city. The other dragons, with their deformed wings and feeble muscles, are afraid to risk failure and humiliation. But wondrous things await in Kelsingra, a city built for dragons and their Elderling keepers. Alise, overwhelmed by the treasures she finds there, records her finds for posterity. Once the rest of the world knows about the riches the city contains, nothing will ever be the same again. Already, rumours of the city’s discovery have floated down the Rain Wild River and reached envious ears in Bingtown and beyond. Adventurers, pirates and fortune hunters are coming in droves to pillage what they can from the city. As is Hest Finbok, Alise’s husband… Meanwhile, Selden Vestrit finds himself a prisoner of the ailing Duke of Chalced, who believes him to be some sort of dragon-man whose flesh and blood may work miracle cures. Where is Tintaglia, the great sapphire-blue dragon, when all have such need of her? Has she really abandoned her beloved Selden and the fledgling dragons forever? Or will she too return to seek the wonders of Kelsingra?
- Dragon's Blood (forthcoming, 2013)
"Robin Hobb writes achingly well" SFX
"Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers ... what makes her novels as addctive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics" The Times