Six or seven years have passed since I read the final installment of The Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb. This was the end of an era for me; I would finally get a closure on the fate of FitzChivalry Farseer and the Six Duchies. I recall receiving the hardcover edition in the post on a Friday, taking it home with me and finishing it over the weekend. Magical. And although I have read numerous fantasy titles since then, none have competed against the position of Robin Hobb's books in my heart.
Apart from Tolkien, Hobb was my first proper encounter with fantasy literature. After reading Assassins Apprentice, the first book of The Farseer Trilogy, I was hooked. Rapidly I consumed the other titles in the trilogy, but I was left with a feeling of emptyness when I was done. Was the author seriously gonna leave it at that? There was a definate conclusion to the plot of the title, yet our catalyst hero, Fitz, was left hanging.
In search of answers, I threw myself at Hobb's next books, The Liveship Traders. Set in the same world as The Farseer Trilogy, I was yet again instantly enthralled by the magic and beauty of Hobb's storytelling. And although there were some connections between the two series, there were no direct references to Fitz.
After finishing the three books that have been written in The Liveship Traders, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hobb had started on a trilogy that would pick up the pieces of Fitz' life. The Tawny Man trilogy worked well as a conclusion to a character I had come to love. After finishing the last book, I was a little sad to finally leave the universe and those characters, but I also felt satisfied that the books had ended in a place where I was ready to say goodbye.
Robin Hobb recently started writing a series of two books that would "finish" what The Liveship Traders started. I read the first book last year, Dragon Keeper and enjoyed it a lot. Reading it brought back the original awe I had felt in this universe of dragons and innumerable magics. The longing to return to this universe motivated me to start rereading these books.
So, a few weeks ago, I started on The Farsees Trilogy. *heartbreak* It was brilliant! Although I remembered the major plot developments, so many things had been forgotten, and the suspense lasted until the final chapter! I am almost halfway into The Tawny Man Trilogy, whilst sneak reading a little in Ship of Magic on the side (I decided to finish with Fitz before turning my gaze to Bingtown and the Rain Wilds). My conclusion is that Robin Hobb remains one of the best fantasy writers I have read, and no matter how old I am, or how many other fantasy universes I have visited, hers will keep its allure.
My hope now is that there are other stories from this universe that Hobb will want to write about.