.....also known as, Important Info For Those Who Haven't -- Yet.
I am currently re-reading some of her completed trilogies in between this, that, and the other thing. There is a lot to be said for any media that has value in being experienced more than once; even moreso when it's possible to keep coming at the original from different angles and get different things out of it each time.
Of the trilogy beginning with Assassin's Apprentice, I have mentioned these basic tenets to so many people that I have severe deja vu creeping over all my limbs even attempting to describe it. Long did Amazon recommend this to me, and long did I resist. I mean, Amazon is often wrong on my taste, and the basic premise sounds so stereotypically lame, frankly: main character is the bastard son of the crown prince, and is conveniently trained to be an assassin instead. O rilly? Ya seriously. This is the stuff lazy D&D character backgrounds are made of, is it not?
It is so incredibly pleasing that Hobb weaves such great stuff out of the basic premise, not only making it fun to read, not only refreshing the tired old cliches, but actually reminding the reader where the appeal in them once lay and how good they could be all over again. This is a tough nut to crack, and I end up extremely entertained as well as impressed.
Never once in any of her writing does she rely on established fantasy conventions; whenever she uses them, she explores all the deepest details that ever made them of interest in the first place when they were fresh and new. There is no shorthand present in her narration. Like Volsky, she has a tendency to reinvent magic over and over again. Like herself, she has a tendency to reinvent the dragon myth over and over again. Neither is a particularly small feat for the crowded genre. Furthermore, she's very philosophical in a commonsensical way, which I for one tend to adore.
This particular trilogy is related in the first person, with heavy foreshadowing, allusions of fate and/or destiny, and several solid, flawed and deeply intriguing characters. The backdrop plot is sweeping and exhilarating, gradually revealed over the course of the books. Several intriguing details remain mysteries, which I for one enjoy.
Tradition known and forgotten, intrigue large and small, exploration of cultures, war -- and, as mentioned, fantastic characterization and refreshing takes on magic, myth and dragons.
Currently I am re-reading her followup trilogy that begins with Ship of Magic. I am so awed with the thorough detail and the decadently delicious length (832 pages) that I can only imagine that she does not currently have a full-time job and/or much of a social life; it's difficult to imagine that stories of this scope leave much room for anything else. Whatever you had to go through to get these out here, Robin -- believe me, it is very much appreciated!
Again we have deliciously complex characterization of flawed and appealing characters, further exploration of magic, myth, and yes... dragons, further exploration of cultures and their clashes, and, unbelievably, an even more elaborate plot. One might not think this particularly possible when this followup trilogy does not have the broader canvas of open war, but it is in fact managed.
This trilogy takes advantage of a close third-person perspective to make all more detailed still. Pirates, an incredibly elaborate nautical merchant culture, an utterly viable religion, the life of sea serpents and much more. I'm getting more from this particular trilogy yet again, with the opportunity to delve further into the motivations of other characters I may have concentrated less specifically on in the past. In further goodness, a certain character from the prior trilogy is quite casually and subtly introduced into this one as well, inviting further convoluted insight.
Again, delicious become lazy cliches are revisited, such as the classical King O The Pirates scenario -- and are renewed.
I have not yet begun to reread yet again the Tawny Man trilogy beginning with Fool's Errand. Suffice to say that they revisit what came to pass in the Farseer trilogy and are very much informed by the trilogy between.
Her Solider Son trilogy, currently in progress and beginning with Shaman's Crossing, has received some pretty short shrift in Amazon reviews. It is my opinion that this is partially due to her not revisting many fantasy cliches and simultaneously not writing a trilogy that currently fits in oh so neatly with the world covered in these other three trilogies. I find these to be quiet Westerns, in a way that reclaims that particular genre. Freely I admit that I tend to have a big problem with that genre in any format, and I don't here. I need to start on these yet again, but it's also possible that those who enjoyed the character of Wintrow in the Liveship Traders books (one of those characters I am most especially concentrating on this time around) might find some correlations. For that matter, there are other subtle correlations as well.
What're you reading this for? These books would keep you very happily occupied for a while.
Discussed a bit with 8ofswords off-community -- she suggests that Ms. Hobb needs a lot more in way of marketing, which may be true! Have you ever seen a little display of her books, for instance? (I have not.) It feels a bit like "What! You've never had chocolate ice cream?? Oh seriously you really need to check it out!"
And now 8 has picked up Assassin's Apprentice to give it a start! Hurrah!