It had me by the unmentionables from pretty much the first page.
So, all the things I loved in the previous books are present here. Fantastic writing, good twists and an ever-present sense of tension that you occasionally get spared from but are never allowed to completely forget.
But above all else, it’s the characters. Robin Hobb’s characters are things of beauty. Nuanced, flawed, and so utterly believable. She made me love them all, except for the ones I was supposed to hate, and even then, they were painted as real, three dimensional things.
Even Robin Hobb’s animals have more personality than most other Fantasy protagonists.
*takes a moment to quietly contemplate Nighteyes*
It’s also epic in length, about twice the size of the book 1 and I never once felt like things were dragging. There’s also a real sense that things are earned in this series. Wounds persist, psychological scars become permanent character features and things lost are rarely recovered. In fact, far more often than not, terrible things happen but when there is a victory for the Fitz or his allies it is all the sweeter for it.
Robin Hobb is now, without doubt, my favourite fantasy writer. The writing is so good and the characters so compelling that they could be washing the dishes and I’d still be glued to the page.
Next stop: Liveship Traders.