Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb

Fool's Assassin
Fitz and the Fool Book One
By Robin Hobb

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more...

On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail.

What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz's violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.


A decade or so has passed in the Kingdom of the Six Duchies and FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard son of the royal line and former king's assassin, has taken on a new identity away from court intrigue with his wife Molly.

As Tom Badgerlock, he has little need of his Skill magic or, with the passing of his wolf companion, that of his Wit. That is until a mysterious messenger arrives, only to disappear before she can deliver her message, leaving a trail of blood.

Given how long it's been since the last Fitz and the Fool book, Hobb's leisurely introduction back into this world is welcome. Not only does the telling of the story remain true to the pacing of previous nine volumes (that are collectively referred to as the books of The Realm of the Elderlings), it works as a smoldering fire that slowly has new fuel added to it until it is suddenly a roaring blaze again.

The story is deceptively simple yet complex. Hobb's connection to the character of Fitz is evident, it feels like the last ten years between the books have never happened, that it was only yesterday we last saw the world through Fitz's eyes and while things have changed as they are wont to do, they are still comfortingly familiar.

This book is filled with heartache and joy, tension and foreboding, and anyone who fell in love with FitzChivalry Farseer in the Assassin's Apprentice will fall in love with him all over again. The highs and the lows are achingly crafted and so very real it is hard to imagine that Withywoods, the Six Duchies and indeed Fitz himself, do not actually exist somewhere.

This book is one of the best of the year. It is Hobb at her best and I came to the end all too soon. The books of Fitz and the Fool - all of them - are pieces of a masterpiece and one of the most important works in modern speculative fiction.

Thankfully Hobb is not a writer to take years to complete a book so hopefully we will have the next volume sooner rather than later.

Order it now!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Master of Whitestorm - a review

A bit of a flashback review here. I've recently 're-read' this book on audio and was inspired. Janny Wurts is one of my top 5 favorite authors ever.

Master of Whitestorm
By Janny Wurts

Korendir’s name was the stuff of legend ...

Man of mystery ... deadly mercenary ... obsessed adventurer ...

From a life of misery, chained as a galley slave under the whips of the marauding Mhurgai, Korendir contrived an escape against impossible odds, only to gamble his hard-won freedom against ever more deadly stakes—in a world endangered by elementals, shape-changers, demons and perilous wizardry. Even Haldeth, fellow captive at the oar and his only accepted friend, can not understand what drives Korendir to repeated risk. But the hazardous tasks serve a madman’s hope, to build an unbreachable citadel.

Yet, can any fortress wall be enough to disarm the inner nightmares that ride the Master of Whitestorm with the cruelty of a death-wish?

In the words of Stephen R. Donaldson Janny Wurts is 'a gifted creator of wonder'. Not one to follow a well-trodden path of tropes, Wurts blazes new trails with her stories and always, always links them irrevocably with human resilience and spirit. The Master of Whitestorm is a standalone novel of towering brilliance, each chapter revealing layers and startling depth and a clear and natural unfurling of story that is as thrilling for its surprises as it is for how all the pieces fit together.

Janny Wurts is one of the most lyrical writers I know and her brilliance with word choice and naming is close to unmatched. Words are chosen and sentences constructed precisely and with the care of a painter (which she is also) choosing colours to create a visual masterpiece. While Wurts’ storytelling demands an investment of time and concentration, the payoff is always worth it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller

The Falcon Throne
The Tarnished Crown Book One
By Karen Miller

Nobody is innocent. Every crown is tarnished.

A royal child, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father s stolen throne. A bastard lord, uprising against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for. A duke s widow, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who d control them both. And two brothers, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery.

All of this will come to pass, and the only certainty is that nothing will remain as it once was.

As royal houses rise and fall, empires are reborn and friends become enemies, it becomes clear that much will be demanded of those who follow the path to power.

A major new epic fantasy begins.


Steeped with history and a vibrant sense of setting The Falcon Throne straddles the duchies of Harcia and Clemen. Once a unified Kingdom it is now a shadow of its former glory as warring dukes have ridden the land to the brink of ruin. In the midst of an uneasy peace we begin tale of Roric who overthrows his cousin to take the throne of Clemen for the good the people; and Balfre, heir to Harcia who will go to any lengths to assume absolute power and resurrect a kingdom centuries dead.

Amidst the tension that leads to war The Falcon Throne also tells the tale of the orphaned son of the murdered duke, the rightful heir to Clemen, who is nurtured on tales of the bastard cousin who killed his father and stole his crown. A crown it is his destiny to reclaim.

Miller has stretched her wings with this book and soared high to bring us a tale worthy of any fan of Martin's A Game of Thrones, Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind or Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Filled with passion and vigor The Falcon Throne is an epic historical fantasy of kingdoms and dynasties, princes and pawns, and a shadowy power who pulls strings behind the scenes to topple one empire and raise another. I highly recommend it!

The Falcon Throne is due for release on August 26th - preorder it now!