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Fool's Errand: Book 1 of the Tawny Man - Robin Hobb

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Author: Robin Hobb / Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy/ Publisher: Spectra Books

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    3 Reviews
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      29.07.2010 18:54
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      an amazing book from a fantastic fantasy writer

      BACKGROUND

      Fools Errand is the first in the 'Tawny Man' trilogy by fantasy writer Robin Hobb. Although this book is the first in a trilogy and so can be read by someone who has not read another other books by the author, it does follow on from two previous trilogies by her, The Farseer trilogy and then the Liveship Traders trilogy.

      All of these books are set in a very different world to ours where dragons live and magic is still very real. However, the main countries do bare similarities to what we would assume England to have been like a few hundred years ago, and other places would perhaps resemble other European countries from this time.

      The Farseer trilogy is set in the Six Duchies, in Buckkeep where the king and the court resides. Here Fitz, the royal bastard is brought to be raised as the kings man and royal assassin. The trilogy follow him and the politics of the time until Fitz is a man and must act to save the Six Duchies from ruin. However, Fitz has both the 'skill' and is 'witted'. The skill is a type of mind magic which is passed down through those of royal blood whereas the wit is a type of magic which is though of as evil by most, where a person is able to bond with an animal to the point where they can communicate with each other and share thoughts. The Liveship Traders takes place in a different country to the first trilogy where people use a special kind of wood to make ships which come alive after so many generations of one family die aboard the ship. This trilogy does really follow on from the first although a lot of things do tie in to both.

      All these books are very long and complicated, and like I said, you don't need to read all of them. However, I personally love how the stories tie in with each other as the way it is done is very subtle and the reader has to guess at a lot of it. Particularly now I am reading the third trilogy there are more little bits and pieces that run through all the books that fans of them will really enjoy.

      THE PLOT

      Time has passed since Fitz was young and had to work with his bond animal, a wolf names Nighteyes, to save the kingdom. He now wished to live a simple life, not drawing much attention to himself in the countryside with his wolf and an orphan boy called Hap. The books starts pretty slowly describing how Fitz's life has been led for the past so many years and explains how he is living his life now, and why he is now going by the name Tom Badgerlock. However, his peaceful life is soon interrupted as his old friends Chade and the Fool come to visit him. Although he wants to avoid Buckkeep and any ties to his old life he is soon forced to go back there when the Queens son, Prince Dutiful goes missing. Fitz and the Fool, along with Nighteyes must do their best to find out what happened to the boy, where he has disappeared to and why. Time is short as Dutiful is to be betrothed in just a few weeks and Fitz in unsure he can get the prince back in time for the betrothal ceremony.

      OPINION

      I personally love these books. They really are very long and complicated, with lots of twists and turns, but they are written so well that you get so involved with the characters and the plot so much so that you don't want the story to end.

      This book followed on easily from those that preceded it. The Liveship Traders trilogy did take a break from the life of Fitz and time has passed since the end of the Farseers trilogy, but I think the way the story has been picked up again has been done well. The story starts slowly as there is a lot of explanations to go through, but I think it's a good thing that you're not just plunged into a brand new story. The characters in these books are so deep and complicated that you do feel as though you know them really well. So, knowing Fitz you know that it would take a lot of explanations and reasoning's for him to change his life as it is when the book starts. I think it's amazing how in-depth these books manage to be. There is so much description, the characters are so vivid and the story is so rich. Although this means that things do tend to move slowly it doesn't mean that the story becomes dull and that there is no action. On the contary, there are sword fights and scandals happening all the time, and here the story goes at a slightly faster pace even though the description is as intricate as always.

      Having read about Fitz since he was only about six or seven you really do feel like you want to know more about him and what he will do with his life. As the books with him in are told from a first person perspective it really is like you know absolutely everything about the man. He is a very strong character although kind of 'normal' compared to some of the others. Robin Hobb really does excel at creating humorous and quirky characters, the best of which I think would be the Fool. He started off in the Farseer trilogy as the kings court jester and was a brilliant character although not a very main one. He is one of those characters that you wish had been featured more but wasn't. Now he has grown up a bit he is passing himself off as Lord Golden, a very rich nobleman who is staying at court for a while. In previous books he has told us that he is a prophet and is to use Fitz as his catalyst, which is what I assume the further two stories in this trilogy will be about. He goes with Fitz to find the prince and so there is so much more of him in the book and so you get to know more about him. He is also quite a mysterious character, which gives you the feeling that any little bits of knowledge to be discovered about him could almost be considered as secrets.

      Although this book stands alone as a very good story I assume that a lot of it has set the scene for what will happen in the two books that follow. I think that this will be the last trilogy to feature Fitz and so I am looking forward to finding out what fate has in store for him and the Six Duchies. The book leaves off with quite a lot of loose ends and you are unsure of what all the characters will be doing with their lives in the near future as it seems as though bit events are looming.

      When I start to read these stories I cannot wait to get hold of the next one as soon as I've put one down. Robin Hobb is an excellent writer and I could only wish that there was more out there by her so I could get my hands on it as soon as possible! She is an excellent fantasy writer, and these books touch a lot on how life was lived in such an historic time too. If you like fantasy books and haven't read anything by Hobb, I would suggest you give her a go. However, if you're looking for a quite and easy read then these certainly wont be for you!

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      • More +
        19.07.2009 18:55
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        A Brilliant Book

        Well about 5 years ago I gave a new fantasy writer a try. She went by the name of Robin Hobb. I read her first trilogy, the Farseer trilogy, her first two books were very good but by the third I was stunned! She really captured my imagination and inspired me! I was really looking forward to reading more of this fantastic author.

        So this book, Fool's Errand, is the first book in The Tawny Man trilogy by fantasy writer Robin Hobb. This book was released back in 2002. Hobb had established herself in the fantasy world by now and had a good fan base. So it was no surprise this was a big seller from her.

        This book takes us back to the first Trilogy, we are still in the same world created by Hobb and we return to the lives of some of the old characters. Most noticably Fitz and Nighteyes.

        So this book carries on the story fifteen years later, from when the Red Ship War has ended. Fitz and his wolf companion Nighteyes have settled into a quiet life in a small cottage far away from the stress of his old life. However Fitz has not managed to leave his life behind, his old friend Starling has found him and constantly visits, bringing news of the outside world.

        Then one day the Fool finds his old friend and convinces Fitz to help him. Suddenly Fitz is emerged in politics and adventure again. He is sent on a mission to try and rescue the new Prince. On his journey he has all sorts of adventures and problems.

        After the previous trilogy I was really looking forward to getting my teeth into this one. I had high expectations and am happy to say I was not disapointed. This book is excellent! I has everything you would hope for and more besides.

        Hobb has a wonderful way of bringing the story to life. She really gets you emotionally involved with the characters, there is one section of the book involving Fitz and Nighteyes that I found really moving, something that I find vary rare in fantasy books.

        The way Hobb can develop relationships between characters is wonderful. You feel like your a fly on the wall watching and living along with the characters. I am really impressed with the way Hobbs writes and makes us a part of her world.

        There is quite a lot going on in this book. Plenty to keep you involved, its nice to be back with our old favorites and seeing what has become of them since the last series of books.

        Am sure anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction will love this book. It helps if you have read the Farseer trilogy but it does not matter if not as this is a different story all together. Really think everyone should give this a try and am sure you will fall in love with these books as I did! Go and get yourself a copy!

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          08.05.2008 09:18
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          A new trilogy set in The Six Duchies and returning to the unfinished story of Fitz Chivalry Farseer

          The third of Robin Hobb's four trilogies begins with a welcome return to a familiar part of the Six Duchies and a revisit to the life of our old friend, Fitz Chivalry and his constant companion, Nighteyes. Fifteen years have passed scince the end of The Red Ships War and Fitz, long considered dead by many of the people who once shared his life including his lost love, Molly, and the daughter he has never met, is living out his days in a secluded wood cabin with only his wolf and his adopted son, Hap, for companionship. Apart from the occassional conjugal visit from the minstrel, Starling, and his occasional Skill-Dreams of both his daughter, Nettle, and his former life at Buckkeep, Fitz has pretty much managed to leave his former life behind him. But, as attacks against Witted gain more prevalence with the Six Duchies' folk looking for enemies amongst their own people to fight and with members of the Witted joining to form the Piebalds, a rebellious faction determined to erase the bad name associated with The Wit, the winds of change begin to blow through Fitz's sheltered existance.

          This change is heralded by three visits much like in Dicken's Christmas Carol, but these are not the ghosts of past, present and future who come to Fitz's door but faces from the life he thought left behind. First comes Starling, whose latest stay takes a dark turn after Fitz discovers that all this time she has been married and that he has been cuckolding another man's wife!! Fitz being a man of honour refuses to see Starling anymore and, unsurprisingly, the minstrel doesn't take the news very well....next comes Fitz's old mentor, Chade, with a proposition for his former apprentice which would see him returning to Buckkeep as the only person left alive with any true knowledge of The Skill; a magic used by the Farseer family for generations that lately threatens to be lost to the ages....finally The Fool returns to visit Fitz with an update on his life away from his old friend and confirmation of all he (or she....?) has been up to in the time in which the two of them have been apart. He also brings the news that the time is coming soon when The Changer will have need of his Catalyst once more and that the Fate of the world again hangs in the balance. That time comes sooner than either of them expect....

          Prince Dutiful, the son Fitz fathered with Queen Kettricken whilst his king, Verity, inhabited his body through The Skill, has either run off to join The Piebalds or has been abducted after showing signs of both The Skill and The Wit. With a delegation, including the Narchessa of the Outislands with whom the Farseers wish to arrange a truce through marriage, arriving in under a fortnight to Buckkeep, Fitz has to work against the clock as he returns to the intrigue of his former world and witnesses the closing of one chapter in his life. At present, none at court know of the Prince's disappearance and the Farseer family would like to keep it that way. Again Fitz finds himself making sacrifice for his throne....

          All of Hobb's books seem to have a theme and here, it is obviously all about closure. You can tell Hobb, like her many fans, has an affinity for Fitz and attempts with this series to make up for all he has endured in his life until now! This is a chance for Fitz to once more become the hero and this time you sense he might even get for it the recognition he deserves. But it is not just closure for Fitz, it is closure for all the characters we knew and loved and have missed since the end of The Farseer Trilogy. Heavy hints are dropped all through this first novel in THE TAWNY MAN series that other familiar faces are going to feature though in this opening chapter we are given only a taste of what is to come. The book also expands on ideas that were mere acorns in the Farseer Trilogy and that began to sprout in her second, Liveships series that set the stage for later events here.

          This could all go a bit Pete Tong; it could be a disaster returning to a familiar setting when so much before seems to have reached full circle and yet it's not the mistake it could have been and is instead a mark of real, writing talent!! Stepping back into Fitz's life is like donning a comfortable pair of shoes in preperation for a long journey home and the end result of this first installment is a feeling of satisfaction that finally at least some of Hobb's characters might just get a happy (ish) ending to their lives that until now has been lacking. Of course, first Fate must extract it's own price for this blessing and you get the real sense here that this is just a beginning and that there is much more yet that Fitz is going to have to face; not least because this is only the first part of a trilogy and that Hobb and Fate must yet have some nasty tricks up their sleeves to play...

          If you haven't read either of her previous series' then this new trilogy may lose you a bit. Similarly if you have only read one of her other two trilogies, you may find it difficult to follow exactly what has gone before, though Hobb does try to give a bit of a catch-up. This is defenitely a series for the fans and is a very, very welcome return to a familiar setting that is only a mere whisper away from being real....

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