Menu

Robin Hobb biography and books reviewed

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:

Both Megan Lindholm and Robin Hobb are active on Facebook and LiveJournal. The Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm Yuku site is http://robinhobbmeganlindholm.yuku.com/. For Italian readers:  http://www.bloodmemories.it/.

She can be easily reached by email at robinhobb@robinhobb.com.

"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

"Hobb is superb, spinning wonderful characters and plots from pure imagination" Conn Iggulden

March 4th 2012 interview with Robin Hobb

City of Dragons, the third instalment in The Rain Wild Chronicles, will be published in the UK on the 23rd of April 2012. In advance of the book's release, Robin Hobb has kindly taken time to expound on the inspirations behind the stories.City of Dragons is the third in your Ra [...]

Read interview

Robin Hobb reviews

Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb. Again. Should be higher. Again. This is the third trilogy with Fitz as the lead. Read The Farseer Trilogy, then read The Tawny Man trilogy, then read this trilogy, which begins with Fool's Assassin. You won't regret it. 

Read our review

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb

Happy endings never last... Years ago, they freed a dragon from the glaciers on Aslevjal. Then they parted ways, the Fool returning to far-off Clerres, while Fitz finally claimed a wife, a family, and a home of his own. Now, betrayed by his own people and broken by torment, the Fool has made his way back to the Six Duchies. But as Fitz attempts to heal his old friend in Buckkeep Castle, his young daughter Bee is abducted from Withywoods by pale and mysterious raiders who leave ruin and confusion in their wake. Fitz must find a way to rescue his beloved Bee. At the same time it is the Fool's fiercest wish to return to Clerres with the best assassin he has ever known, to gain vengeance and justice. Can Fitz bear to take up the tools of his old trade again, even to avenge his dearest friend and save his child?

Read our review

Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer's daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield great power. With Fitz in pursuit, the Servants fled through a Skill-pillar, leaving no trace. It seems certain that they and their young hostage have perished in the Skill-river. Clerres, where White Prophets were trained by the Servants to set the world on a better path, has been corrupted by greed. Fitz is determined to reach the city and take vengeance on the Four, not only for the loss of Bee but also for their torture of the Fool. Accompanied by FitzVigilant, son of the assassin Chade, Chade's protégé Spark and the stableboy Perseverance, Bee's only friend, their journey will take them from the Elderling city of Kelsingra, down the perilous Rain Wild River, and on to the Pirate Isles. Their mission for revenge will become a voyage of discovery, as well as of reunions, transformations and heartrending shocks. Startling answers to old mysteries are revealed. What became of the liveships Paragon and Vivacia and their crews? What is the origin of the Others and their eerie beach? How are liveships and dragons connected? But Fitz and his followers are not the only ones with a deadly grudge against the Four. An ancient wrong will bring them unlikely and dangerous allies in their quest. And if the corrupt society of Clerres is to be brought down, Fitz and the Fool will have to make a series of profound and fateful sacrifices.

"This review isn’t for those new to this series, it is for those who, like me, want to know if this denouement provides the fitting ending we all so desperately craved. I believe it does, it may not be my favourite Elderlings book and series but it is a touching and satisfying end to the life, loves and adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer."

Read our review

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

One of the darkest legends in the Realm of the Elderlings recounts the tale of the so-called Piebald Prince, a Witted pretender to the throne unseated by the actions of brave nobles so that the Farseer line could continue untainted. Now the truth behind the story is revealed through the account of Felicity, a low-born companion of the Princess Caution at Buckkeep. With Felicity by her side, Caution grows into a headstrong Queen-in-Waiting. But when Caution gives birth to a bastard son who shares the piebald markings of his father’s horse, Felicity is the one who raises him. And as the prince comes to power, political intrigue sparks dangerous whispers about the Wit that will change the kingdom forever…

"If you’re a fan of the Elderlings trilogy of trilogies, then you’ll definitely want to pick this novella up. However, if you’re new to Hobb, I would recommend going back to the beginning, as there is enough to persecute a readers mind as to make it frustrating."

Read our review

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

The Realm of the Elderlings is a glorious, classic fantasy combining the magic of Le Guin's The Wizard of Earthsea with the epic mastery of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is a master class of characterisation, imbued with the richest of narratives, all combining to produce one of the very finest fantasy series ever written.

Read our review

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

Honesty is the bedrock for any relationship. But how can Fitz – royal bastard, trainee assassin, holder of secrets crucial to the security of the kingdom – bare his soul to his beloved Molly? Danger lies all around him – from the raiders savaging the coastal towns, and from within the court. The king has been struck down by a mystery illness and his eldest son, Verity, is bound up in the defence of the realm. When Verity leaves the court in search of the mythical Elderlings, Fitz finds himself friendless apart from his wolf, Nighteyes, and the king’s strange, motley-clad fool, exposed to Prince Regal’s malign ambitions. He will be asked to sacrifice everything – his heart, his hope, even his life – for the sake of the realm.

Read our review

Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb

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.

"At the end of Royal Assassin Fitz had taken poison and died. Although we were sure that this was not the end for him, we eagerly anticipated how Robin Hobb might bring him back to life for the final installment of the trilogy. She did not disappoint." Fantasy Book Review

Read our review

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

No other than Orson Scott Card described the Liveship Traders trilogy as a 'masterclass in writing'. The story is unique, the character development excellent. In just a few chapters the characters are well drawn and take on a life of their own. Highly recommended.

Read our review

The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb

The Liveship Traders series continues with the second book, The Mad Ship. Althea Vestrit continues her quest to reclaim her rightful inheritance, the liveship Vivacia. The Vivacia has been seized by pirates led by the enigmatic Kennit, a man who believes that destiny leads him to become King of the Pirate Isles. The Vestrit family are nearing financial ruin which leads them closer to the mysterious Rain Wild Traders who own the ship. Amidst these events the mad ship, Paragon is once again launched despite the history of death and despair that surrounds him.

Read our review

Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb is rightly classed as one of the finest authors the genre has ever been fortunate enough to have. The Farseer Trilogy established this status – does the Liveship Traders keep the high standard? The answer is yes, the quality of the writing is once again excellent and the characters are full and lifelike. I did enjoy the trilogy but not to the same degree as The Farseer Trilogy. There is something about the characters that stopped me from getting completely behind them. They are undoubtedly well written but also often highly annoying (this may be intended, if it was, then it was done superbly well.)

Read our review

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Rarely will I not make it through a book. I can count on one hand the amount of books that have failed to see me make it to the last page. Even if I don’t like the book, I’ll try and finish it in case I miss something. And really, it has to be a poor book to put me off from being able to push through. Think about it, I made it through Brisingr!

Read our review

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb

Dragon Haven is an excellent novel that benefits from prior hard work in the previous instalment. A tale rich in plot and characterisation it forms a worthy and exciting addition to Hobb’s delightful world of the Elderlings.

Read our review

City of Dragons by Robin Hobb

The Rain Wild Chronicles have developed into a superb continuation of the Liveship Traders trilogy and I highly recommend that you join the Lords of the Three Realms in the City of Dragons and experience the same reading delights that I did.

Read our review

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Dragon blood and scales, dragon liver and eyes and teeth. All required ingredients for medicines with near-miraculous healing powers. The legendary blue dragon Tintaglia is dying of wounds inflicted by hunters sent by the Duke of Chalced, who meanwhile preserves his dwindling life by consuming the blood of the dragon's poet Selden Vestrit. If Tintaglia perishes, her ancestral memories will die with her. And the dragons in the ancient city of Kelsingra will lose the secret knowledge they need to survive. Their keepers immerse themselves in the dangerously addictive memory-stone records of the city in the hope of recovering the Elderling magic that once allowed humans and dragons to co-exist. In doing so they risk losing their own identities, even their lives. And danger threatens from beyond the city, too. For war is coming: war between dragonkind and those who would destroy them.

"Blood of Dragons is everything you would expect from a resolution to a Hobb series. It carries on the plot of Kelsingra, gives us more knowledge of the Elderlings than ever before, (though still leaving mysteries), and also resolves many plots in deeply satisfying ways. Even if it leaves a couple of threads hanging slightly, there's no denying it makes a beautiful tapestry out of the Rainwild Chronicles and one which should grace the wall of any fantasy reader."

Read our review

Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb

Nevare Burvelle was destined from birth to be a soldier. The second son of a newly anointed nobleman, he must endure the rigors of military training at the elite King's Cavalla Academy--and survive the hatred, cruelty, and derision of his aristocratic classmates--before joining the King of Gernia's brutal campaign of territorial expansion. The life chosen for him will be fraught with hardship, for he must ultimately face a forest-dwelling folk who will not submit easily to a king's tyranny. And they possess an ancient magic their would-be conquerors have long discounted--a powerful sorcery that threatens to claim Nevare Burvelle's soul and devastate his world once the Dark Evening brings the carnival to Old Thares.

"It happens far too often that books that are not worthy of wide recognition achieve it, and those that are worthy of it only achieve success in smaller amounts. It is a never ending source of frustration for fans of those books and authors, for they see actual talent being ignored in place of flashy and insubstantial books that do nothing but cater to the lowest common denominator."

Read our review

Forest Mage by Robin Hobb

At times I became very angry with the book, not with how the author has written it but at the characters themselves and how they were treating poor Nevare. And this is exactly what a book should do and Forest Mage does it amazingly well. Nevare's father, plus his former fiancée Carsina, really made my blood boil and I realised that only excellent writing can provoke such a response in me as a reader. So I find myself unhesitatingly recommending the first two books in the Soldier Son Trilogy. There is a lot of suffering and unhappiness, and many of the characters are simply surviving, which I found an interesting and powerful contrast to the ambitions and hopes that were so important  to Nevare in the first book.

Read our review

Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb

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.

Read our review

Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb

You may have already noticed that we absolutely loved The Farseer Trilogy. Robin Hobb is a much praised and admired author due to the fact that she is a storyteller of rare skill with a unrivalled command of the English language. There is also, of course, the fact that her books are highly enjoyable and feature many strong and memorable characters. The experience of reading of a Robin Hobb book is one to be cherished; there are no safer hands that you could place your leisure time in. From the first page to the very last you are treated like royalty with a tale that will last with you for a long time. I could not recommend Robin Hobb’s books highly enough – the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies are a must for every fantasy enthusiast. As a body of work, the nine books are arguably the finest fantasy series ever written.

Read our review

The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb

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.

"The Golden Fool is the second book in Robin Hobb’s The Tawny Man series. First published in Great Britain by Voyager in 2002. Fitz has succeeded in rescuing Prince Dutiful from the clutches of the Piebald rebels. But once again the cost of protecting the Farseer line has been dear: Nighteyes is dead."

Read our review

Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb

The triumphant conclusion to the tale of the Farseers, in which kingdoms must stand or fall on the beat of a dragon’s wings, or a Fool’s heart. 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 lay the head of the dragon Icefyre, whom legends tell is buried there deep beneath the ice, upon her hearth. Only then can their marriage proceed, and put an end to war between the two kingdoms. Having abandoned the Fool in Buckkeep, Fitz is guilt-stricken; but determined to keep the fate of his beloved friend 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…

"It was with both anticipation and regret that I began the final book of The Tawny Man series. This is the ninth book set in Robin Hobb’s immaculately built world of The Six Duchies and it has been a staggering achievement to maintain such a level of literary excellence through so many books. Not one of the nine is weak; each is as lovingly created as the last. This is epic fantasy at its very best; the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of the White Prophet and his Catalyst. The Fool’s Fate hangs over the entire book – will the prophecy come true and see his death or can destiny be changed without risking the future of the world?"

Read our review