Category: Epic Fantasy, Literary Fantasy
Author: Robin Hobb
Do you know that feeling of being so immersed in a story that when it ends, you’re suddenly at a loss of what to do next with your life, that’s pretty much what I felt after reading the Liveship Traders Trilogy. This is the second trilogy following the Farseer books set in the Realm of the Elderlings, however, this trilogy does not follow Fitz and the Fool, but introduces a whole new cast of characters and is set in a fictional trading port called Bingtown.
Reading this trilogy felt like falling into a whirlpool, it just consumes you as a reader. There are some really tense and sad moments but overall it’s such an engaging romp of a read! Her characters & plot points are so three dimensional, her worlds so incredibly nuanced. There’s politics, culture, trade, commerce, gender roles, identity, family, magical elements, just weaved in so realistically, that she makes fantasy feel real, believable. Like I can pack my bags and shift to Bingtown. The way she handles gender and subverts fantasy troupes is another aspect I really admire when it comes to Robin Hobb. She really tugs at your heartstrings by making you feel so invested in her characters, and you can’t stop caring for what happens to them.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect from this trilogy as a whole.
Spot-on character development: In the Farseer books, the characters were either extremes, you love or hate them. In the Liveship Traders, the characters are all shades of grey and they evolve with time. There were characters I disliked in the first book that I came to completely fall in love with by the third. The flaws in each make them all the more human, real and genuine. It’s also the first series I’ve come across with a larger number of female characters than male. And they are totally kickass. Some of them have become my all time favourite characters.
A compelling, layered, well paced plot: The Farseer books were enjoyable but fairly troupe-y, and in Assassin’s Quest, the plot really meandered. That aspect is completely absent in the Liveship Traders, it doesn’t miss a beat. When you finish the third book and reflect back on all that has happened, it’s mind blowing. The plot is so complex, unpredictable, layered and spreads out like an intricately woven web.
Buckle up, it’s an emotional ride : Hobb is ruthless at times with her characters and terrible things happen to people you love. She makes you feel for them in ways that I really can’t explain in words. There are several light hearted, joyous moments, but there are also very tense, emotional moments. And its all handled so delicately and so true to how one might actually react and feel. In a way, she removes the ‘fictional’ aspect of the character, and makes them seem as real as they could possibly be.
These are chunky books, but I guarantee that you’d fly through them. I would also recommend the audio books for this trilogy as the narrator does an excellent job and its another way to finish this book faster as you can listen on the go!