Blog Archives

Thank you, Robin Hobb!

Following on from my post that Robin Hobb is in town, I actually went down to the event yesterday, stood in line to get in for way too long, sat around for another couple of hours waiting for her to be where she’d be signing books, stood in line again to get my turn, and then… finally met her in person.

Robin Hobb signing my books

Robin Hobb signing my books.

And it was awesome!

In case you don’t know, Robin Hobb is my favourite author. Reading her Farseer trilogy is what inspired me to begin writing. I’m not normally much of a fan of anything (at least nowhere near the extent of some of the people at the expo – wow, talk about nine kinds of crazy!), but her I had to go and see.

Robin Hobb after signing my books

Yes, she’s as nice as she looks. (The horrible quality of the picture is my fault.)

I wasn’t sure what the limit was for number of books she’d sign, so I brought two bags of books, agonising over which ones I’d leave at home, because I knew I’d kick myself if she was going to sign them all and I’d only brought one or two.

My Robin Hobb books

No, I didn’t take ALL those books to be signed. (But almost – my shoulders are still aching from carrying them all day!)

Signatures galore

Turns out, the limit was three, but luckily, I’d brought along my minion daughter, so between us, we got six of them signed.

Assassin's Apprentice Signature

My signed copy of Assassin’s Apprentice

Blood of Dragons signature

Robin Hobb’s signature on my copy of Blood of Dragons

Fool's Fate Signature

My copy of Fool’s Fate, now signed by Robin Hobb

I must admit I was slightly nervous just before it was my turn to meet her, but she was so down-to-earth and approachable that I found myself relaxing and thanked her for inspiring me to write. With a smile, she asked me how that was going, and I told her that I’d had a short story published but was currently working on the first part of my fantasy trilogy. She was friendly, natural, and encouraging, and seemed like a great person; I wish we’d had more time to chat, but of course I didn’t want to impose (I’m sure she gets enough craziness when she attends those types of events. I know many people say things like “it’s been an absolute pleasure meeting you” without really meaning it, but in this case, it was completely sincere.

Jo Spurrier

While I was there, I also purchased the third book of Jo Spurrier’s Children of the Black Sun trilogy, North Star Guide Me Home and had it signed by Jo Spurrier, who was also amazingly nice.

Jo Spurrier's signature

Jo Spurrier signed my new copy of her latest book

Queues

A staggering number of people lined up to pay stars and starlets between $20 and $50 per signature, and even more for pictures with them. Lots of people attended the cosplay part of the Supanova event, which I have to say didn’t appeal to me at all, but to each their own I suppose.

Celeb queues

People queuing up to see (or be seen with, or photographed with, or have something signed by) celebrities like Ming-Na Wen

More celebrity queues

More celebrity queues… George Lazenby, Richard Kiel, and so on.

Fitz and the Fool

So altogether a great day despite all the waiting and standing in line. I cannot begin to express how much I’m looking forward to reading Robin Hobb’s new book, Fool’s Assassin, due out in August, when Fitz and the Fool make a welcome return to my imagination.

Oh, and I told Robin Hobb that I was hoping that she wouldn’t reveal the Fool’s gender in the new books. In her typical way, her reply was simply, “Well, if he doesn’t tell me…”

So, from me, a heartfelt “Thank you!” to Robin Hobb.

Robin Hobb – A to Z: R

R is for Robin Hobb, my favourite author and probably the author whose writing has most inspired me to attempt to write myself. Two of my previous A to Z challenge posts, the very first one on Assassin’s Apprentice and the “F” post on Fitz and the Fool, have featured content related to Robin Hobb’s work, so today, I’ll try to minimise the swooning and just write a little about the person behind the pseudonyms.

Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb in 2011; image embedded from Wikimedia Commons.

Wikipedia will tell you that Robin Hobb’s real name is Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, and that she published a number of books under her first pen name, Megan Lindholm, before taking on more epic fantasy as Robin Hobb, starting with the Farseer Trilogy. She still writes using both names and uses different styles for both; Megan Lindholm books seem to be a fair bit shorter while Robin Hobb’s are more epic in scope. Well, unless you count short stories, which are also kind of… er, short.

Margaret/Megan/Robin will be making appearances in Sydney and in Perth (where I live) in June, and I’m looking forward to being able to see her in person (without gushing or screaming like a teenager seeing The Beatles, hopefully) and getting her to sign one of my books (oh, but which one?).

If you’re a writer looking for some great advice, and the secret of how you can become a writer, check out Robin’s excellent post on I Want To Be A Writer, But…. Ok, I’d better hit the “Publish” button now because it’s nearly midnight and this post needs to be for today.

Any favourite writers or other idols you’re looking forward to seeing in person? Let me know in the comments.

Fitz and the Fool – A to Z: F

F is for Fitz, for FitzChivalry, for Farseer, for friendship, and of course for The Fool. If you don’t know, please go and have a quick read of three trilogies by Robin Hobb (Farseer, Liveships, and Tawny Man), then come back here (oh, fine, read the Rain Wilds Chronicles as well, while you’re at it, what’s another four books between friends… I’ll wait). Otherwise you’d be missing out. Plus, there may be spoilers.

You’d be missing out on knowing and understanding what I consider to be the best-written friendship in literature. No, I don’t mean just in epic fantasy. In literature. Ok, maybe that’s overdoing it a bit – after all, I haven’t even read more than two gazillonths of what’s out there. (Do you think you know one that’s better? Let me know in the comments… but have you read those three trilogies I mentioned?!?) Personally, I can’t think how any friendship of which anyone has ever written could compare. I set no boundaries on my adoration for this friendship. None at all. Do you understand me?

I set no boundaries on my love. None at all. Do you understand me?

— The Fool, in The Golden Fool

Here’s your chance to go away if you don’t want to read any spoilers… [cue elevator music while you scroll down].

Fool's Errand cover

The cover of Fool’s Errand, Book One in Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man trilogy

The reason I say it’s the best friendship ever written is that it is not really a romance, nor a bromance, nor yet is it entirely platonic. (Well, one of the reasons. I can see I’m making myself very clear here.) I suppose it has a lot to do with the question of the Fool’s gender, an issue that is never fully answered*. It is exactly that lack of a definition of what the Fool is that leaves the nature of his/her/its friendship with Fitz open to the reader’s interpretation. Fitz and the Fool, Catalyst and Beloved… it’s a complicated relationship, to say the least. Fitz has a brilliant mind, but he can be thick as a plank at times. Yet you can’t entirely blame him for wanting to define what the Fool is and what their frienship is, or could be.

You are confusing plumbing and love again.

— The Fool, in Assassin’s Quest

Had the Fool’s gender ever been fully revealed by Robin Hobb, I doubt my memory of it would be as positive, or my joy at re-reading the series as great (I do hope this won’t be revealed when the next book comes out later this year). If you’ve read all three trilogies, I’m sure you’re aware that the Fool’s appearance and persona as he presents it in the Six Duchies (i.e. the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies), changes significantly, though not completely, when she (I don’t think there’s a way of doing this without mixing pronouns) becomes Amber, the mysterious carver of beads (I’ll never forget that “OMG!” moment when it finally clicked after so many hints). The Fool is a masterful actor and can slip into any role without much effort. The only thing the reader knows for sure is that the passion with which the Fool fights for what he believes is the destiny that is best for the world, is unfeigned and constant.

As a White, he is not the same as a human, although he appears much like a somewhat feminine man, or a somewhat masculine woman. Unlike Fitz, the Fool considers “plumbing” to be unimportant, often teasing Fitz about his fixation with it and about wanting to know the Fool’s gender. Only towards the end of Ship of Destiny do we get to see an expression of Amber’s love (however that is defined) for Fitz, when she carves Fitz’s features onto the Paragon, including the earring that is laden with such meaning throughout the series. My interpretation is that she is choosing between carrying out what she believes is her duty as a White Prophet, to guide the “wheel” of the world into a better rut, and giving in to her love for Fitz. She is very young for her kind, but always chooses the former, yet a part of her is always considering the “what ifs” of the latter.

Love isn’t just about feeling sure of the other person, knowing what he would give up for you. It’s knowing with certainty what you are willing to surrender for his sake. Make no mistake; each partner gives up something. Individual dreams are surrendered for a shared one.

— Amber, in Assassin’s Quest

Later, as the Tawny Man and Lord Golden, he is more mature, but being reunited with his Catalyst also brings back the dilemma. Fitz is also more mature and seems more willing to accept the friendship without fully understanding it.

Beloved, I have missed your company.

— Fitz, in The Golden Fool

The friendship even endures after Fitz carries the naked, unconscious Fool to safety in Fool’s Fate. Does he find out the Fool’s gender (or lack thereof)? You would have to assume so. Yet he has the class not go blabbering about it to the reader, nor even to reveal it tactfully. I sincerely hope Robin Hobb’s upcoming trilogy, The Fitz and the Fool, will continue not to spoil my ignorance in this matter*. Sometimes, not knowing can be more delicious than knowing.

I have waited patiently for many a sequel to finally be published. I have cursed George R. R. Martin for making excuse after excuse and delaying publication of a book that was supposedly “almost finished” for years. (At least now he has the TV series to prod him along to finish the books in time.) I have lamented Robert Jordan’s passing and fretted to find out whether his epic series would ever be completed. Never have I anticipated any book anywhere near as much as the next in the story of the Fitz and the Fool, The Fool’s Assassin.


* Update: See my post “Thank you, Robin Hobb!” for the great answer the author gave me when I told her I was hoping she wouldn’t reveal the Fool’s gender in the upcoming books…

Assassin’s Apprentice – A to Z: A

A is for Assassin’s Apprentice. During my first A to Z challenge post, I might as well reveal that “Amos M. Carpenter” is the third pen name of the author also publishing as “Megan Lindholm” and “Robin Hobb“. So, it should come as no surprise that I’ll shamelessly plug the first book I published as Robin Hobb back in 1995: Assassin’s Apprentice, Book 1 of the Farseer Trilogy.

Assassin's Apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice, Book 1 of Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy

Before you go running off to tell anyone about this revealed identity, may I kindly (and with my tongue firmly in my cheek) point you at today’s date. April Fool’s! (Sorry, couldn’t resist – of course I’m not really Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm. I wish….)

Assassin’s Apprentice begins slowly. Robin Hobb manages to draw the reader into the well-crafted world with rare skill, setting the scene and developing unique characters. The initially nameless character, dubbed “Fitz” because he is a royal bastard, tells his story in the first person from when he was a bright six-year-old until he is a young man by the end of Book One. Along the way, he discovers that his affinity for animals, which he always thought normal, is due to a magic called “the Wit”, despised and misunderstood by most. He also tries to learn the “royal” magic called “the Skill”, but his illegitimacy causes some to consider him to be dangerous to the throne (or to those who aspire to sit on it) and that he should be eliminated, while others believe that he is a tool that should be trained and used for the good of the crown. Thus, he learns to read and write, courtly manners, and, secretly, the fine art of assassination.

I wish I had more time to delve into the intricate details of the plot, the depth of each and every character, whose ideas and ambitions are incredibly believable within the context of the world, but I’m afraid I’ll have to keep this post relatively short. Let me just say, though, that Assassin’s Apprentice is not only an awesome book (whether you’re a fan of fantasy fiction or not, I’m sure you’ll love it), it is also the introduction to Robin Hobb’s “Realm of the Elderlings”, in which three partially interconnected trilogies are set, plus another tetralogy, plus the next series fans are eagerly anticipating:

  • The Farseer Trilogy
    • Assassin’s Apprentice
    • Royal Assassin
    • Assassin’s Quest
  • The Liveship Traders Trilogy
    • Ship of Magic
    • The Mad Ship
    • Ship of Destiny
  • The Tawny Man Trilogy
    • Fool’s Errand
    • The Golden Fool
    • Fool’s Fate
  • The Rain Wilds Chronicles
    • Dragon Keeper
    • Dragon Haven
    • City of Dragons
    • Blood of Dragons
  • The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy (yet to be released)
    • The Fool’s Assassin (due August 2014)

Warning: do NOT begin reading Assassin’s Apprentice if you do not have much time to spare. You will want to pick up Book Two, and Book Three afterwards, and although they will not leave you wanting, they will leave you wanting more.