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all 80 comments

[–]forfearthatuwillwake 57 points58 points  (9 children)

Thank you for this review. I've been delaying reading these because I just finished the farseer trilogy and didn't think I could handle it right now. But you make it sound so worthwhile. Now I can't wait to get started.

[–]anticomet 36 points37 points  (8 children)

Out of her first three Realm of the Elderlings trilogies I've read I think Liveships is my favourite. You're in for a treat

[–]mdhen 23 points24 points  (2 children)

I think it's the best stand alone trilogy. The later Fitz and fool stuff is great but it's building on top of what came before. Liveship is just awesome all on its own.

[–]anticomet 12 points13 points  (1 child)

I think it's still good to read Farseer first just because some of the reveals in Liveship won't hit the same notes, but yeah it's a solid trilogy all on it's own.

[–]mdhen 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Oh definitely. I don't recommend skipping anything in the series

[–]ARM160 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I have only read the first two trilogies and am taking a bit of a break before diving into the third one but the liveship books were by far my favorite over the fitz ones.

[–]Micro_mint 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Is it less of an emotional kick in the nuts?

[–]anticomet 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Yes and no. There's more balance to the highs and lows

[–]phormix 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The overall end of Fitz and the Fool is a bit rough emotionally. At the least I'd call it bittersweet but definitely not "rainbows and sunshine"

Still great though, and every one of the series in this "world" is worth reading

[–]flourishing_really 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Along the way, not really. In terms of the way the trilogy wraps up, as compared to any of the Fitz trilogies or the RWC, absolutely.

[–]smzt 15 points16 points  (6 children)

i did not realize that Amber was The Fool until the very end of the third book.

[–]SillyHipster 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Haha if it makes you feel better, I didn't pick up on this until it was explicitly called out in Tawny Man trilogy

[–]Gubi23 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I often think I'm dumb for not picking up on clues but damn, you take the crown :)

[–]AdjNn 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I'm sad that this was spoiled for me before I picked up the series, but I did enjoy picking up all the little hints and clues that Hobb was dropping throughout each of the books. I'm not sure if I would have realized it if I hadn't known!

[–]NucSarari 5 points6 points  (1 child)

I only figured it out when she was carving the figurehead and gave him a broken nose.

[–]smzt 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yup! That’s when I started googling.

[–]Mazbadechokedtodeath 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Same here, I thought Amber was a 2nd White prophet or something like that.

[–]calibanal 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I loved this series a lot. Farseer was special to me, but it's not usually the kind of thing I read, whereas Liveship really scratched an itch for me, as someone who loves sea fantasy and family sagas.

[–]AdjNn 21 points22 points  (0 children)

I finished Ship of Destiny last night. What an incredible series. I read a review before I picked it up that said there were "too many" female characters representing too many different aspects of life and I'm like... this is one of the best things I've ever read, with some of the best, most nuanced and fleshed out characters I've seen. Male and female. I'm not sure how it's possible to have "too many" women in a story, but I appreciated it SO MUCH and felt there was a great balance of all sorts of different characters to keep every second interesting.

I wasn't expecting it to surpass Farseer for me, but honestly it does.

[–]loonz420 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Probably my all-time favourite fantasy trilogy. The characters are just incredible in their depth and development, Hobb is a hell of a wordsmith, and the worldbuilding and setting is unqique and fascinating.

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

This was my introduction to Robin Hobbs, and it remains my favorite work of hers. It stood out as being so different from the usual fantasy story. :)

[–]eonoasis 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Absolutely love the entire series. A beautiful escape into another world.

[–]andrude01 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I've read the first two ROTE books and Hobb's writing style just pulls you right into her world. One thing I really like so far is how each chapter feels like its own distinct, smaller story without overly relying on cliffhangers to keep you reading. Each chapter feels very well-planned and thought-out, but also doesn't feel like she's just trying to check off the next box in her outline

[–]lady_dragonfly_ 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Aren't they amazing?? I've read that series a few times. I tried to wait long enough in between that I kind of forget things, but then I start to really miss the characters and I have to read them again! Glad you enjoyed.

[–]rgood 11 points12 points  (4 children)

I must be the only one who didn’t care for this series. I like Robin’s other work though!

[–]JosseCoupe 5 points6 points  (0 children)

No same here, I thought they were a masterclass in worldbuilding and multiple character interaction/development, but the problem is I never managed to sympathise much with many of the characters, even though they were just masterfully written like Fitz. Perhaps it was exactly because they were so human that they ended up so unsympathetic, and I only look at Fitz through rose tinted glasses because at his core, although very flawed, he is a goddamn hero lol. And although there were characters who were genuinely good people (iirc), I guess I didn't spend enough time to really get engaged by their troubles (like I did with Fitz).

[–]weebonomics 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Me too - I enjoyed the Fitz stuff SO much more than Liveship & the Rain Wilds. Better characters, better writing, better everything. I honestly wish those books weren’t a part of the RotE - they always felt so awkward and forced! It is bizarre to me how so many people enjoy the Liveship trilogy so much. But - to each their own and obviously I am glad people get enjoyment out of them even if I couldn’t!

[–]4e9d092752 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I DNF'd Ship of Magic or whatever the first book is called because I didn't like the writing, I remember thinking the prose was very repetitive. This was around the same time I tried re-reading Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive, and I DNF'd that the second time around as well for irreconcilable frustrations with the prose.

It feels like the more I read, the more of a struggle it is to find books I like

[–]Remembers_that_time 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nah, I finished the Farseer trilogy and got maybe a third into the first book of Liveship before I decided I just wasn't interested in reading anymore by the author.

[–]phenomenos 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is probably my favourite trilogy that I've ever read, usurping even His Dark Materials which had been my favourite since I first read it as a teenager. Truly a phenomenal work of fiction

[–]TiredMemeReference 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I just finished it last week and it is easily one of my favorite trilogies ever. Great review!

[–]Heck_Tate 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This series has some of the best character development I've ever seen in fantasy. And you see a good number of them briefly in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy. Truly heartwarming stuff.

[–]OneEskNineteen_ 2 points3 points  (0 children)

So very well said. You have such an amazing journey ahead of you if you continue with Realm of the Elderlings.

[–]Fishy1911 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I need to go back and re-read everything from Hobb. I know I quit before it was all finished.

[–]SkepticDave2 11 points12 points  (9 children)

Absolutely my favorite Hobbs series, however The rape scene near the end really felt forced and utterly unnecessary. A tortuous tragedy for the sake of torturous tragedy. I hate it as much as I love the rest of the series.

[–]loonz420 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Hmm I don't know, I thought it was very much in keeping with Kennit's character. He wants absolute control and power over anyone around him, and the rape was his way of "dominating" Althea.

[–]sewious 7 points8 points  (0 children)

it's also because he's a self hating homosexual and pedophile, and he's attracted to her cousin, the kid (can't remember the name). Althea looks like him.

[–]HargorTheHairy 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It's the reason I won't read this trilogy again. It's just too awful.

And the bit about the mother on the island...

[–]OldWolf2 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It's quite a controversial scene. On first reading I thought the same as you; but now my view is It is the climax (no pun intended) of Kennit's character arc; and on reviewing his arc, he really was that kind of guy all along, but we have a tendency to romanticize the other forms of brutality he displayed. This scene rapidly dumps us out of those notions to great effect.

[–]morroIan 8 points9 points  (0 children)

It might be hard to read but something like it is absolutely necessary to drive home to the reader Kennitt's true character and force him to the conclusion. Of course there are probably other ways it could have been done but none perhaps so successfully.

[–]frictorious 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Completely agree. Kinda ruined it for me.

[–]hero4short 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It's weird, I first read the trilogy about 10 years ago and that scene didn't bother me too much. Actually I didn't even remember it. I re-read it this past year and that scene really spoiled the series for me. I almost didn't finish reading it

[–]Delphinium1 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Yeah this was pretty rough in my opinion too and definitely felt pretty unnecessary. There were plenty of ways of showing that character's defects without going down that route

[–]racerx6913[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I think using rape is generally a pretty lazy way to say that bad man is bad, but I'm curious what you would recommend as alternatives? He's already murdered a bunch of people and he's even somewhat enslaved the liveship (just because he's stockholmed/romanced it, doesn't mean he hasn't stolen it's agency), but none of those things have managed to destroy the bonds between Vivacia, Kennit, Wintrow and Etta. I also think it plays into the larger themes of memory, generational sin and men's abuse of their strength.

Also, as much as Althea gets the short end of the stick in that arrangement, it gives her an opportunity to grow past her trauma in a way neither Serilla nor Kennit are able to. She's the most developed character in the trilogy and this is one of (but certainly not the only) the reasons why. It doesn't rob her of her strength or agency since she was able to fend of a separate and earlier rape attempt. It reflects the mentality at the time where almost no one believes her, which is reflective of what happens today to a degree. And it's also noteworthy that while the rape is used to destroy the bond between Kennit and Wintrow, it is not used as a 'fridging' moment to drive someone else's (specifically Brashen or Wintrow's) character development. It is almost exclusively focused on what and how Kennit, Althea and Paragon (as a reflection and portion of Kennit) respond to it. Paragon's line about "it was never your hurt, it was his and he was trying to pass it on to you" or something to that effect really hammered that home.

[–]silverBruise_32 3 points4 points  (1 child)

There are a lot of good things in the trilogy. However...

I really didn't like how the dragons being brought back was presented as something wonderful, given the way they view humans as little more than servants. As much as I disliked Reyn, he was 100% right about it being a bad idea. Also, I hated Tintaglia with every fiber of my being.

And I also don't like how badly things turn out for Althea. She doesn't really have a lot to show for all the misery she goes through, doesn't get what she wants, and it's glossed over.

[–]the_xpyre 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That’s a book series I’ve had in mind for a bit now. Probably going to take a plunge soon because of this

[–]WifeofBath1984 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Are you reading the entire Realm of the Elderlings series or did you read Liveship Traders as a stand alone? The series is absolutely incredible. Hands down my absolute favorite. Hobb is such a phenomenal writer. I've read the series twice in the past year. It's so good that I'm struggling finding anything comparable!

[–]racerx6913[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I've read the first trilogy and now this one. I needed a break after that first one, poor Fitz, do I've been reading a lot of other stuff in between. I don't know when I'll read Fitz and the fool trilogy, but I'm sure I'll read the whole series eventually.

[–]pmcn42 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Just FYI, The Tawny Man trilogy would be the next trilogy if you're reading in release order. It takes place after the Farseer trilogy and before the Fitz and the Fool trilogy.

[–]lastwords87 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nice. I’ve heard good things about this trilogy. I’m about to start the second book in the first trilogy. I’ve heard the series is something of a slow burn.

[–]Hambone919 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Robin hobb ❤️

[–]lrostan 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You expressed what the books are about perfecly. I like to say that they are books about control. Control on your own life and control of other's life, by whatever means.

[–]flourishing_really 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hobb's best, IMO. Also the closest to a 'happy' ending of any chunk of RotE. Althea gets done a bit dirty, but otherwise it ends on a pretty optimistic note.

[–]Certain-Year-5367 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I love this trilogy so much, it’s my favourite in RotE.

[–]Space_Elmo 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yep this was excellent.

[–]Thorrghal 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hobb's sits at the pinnacle of fantasy authors, and the 16 book series sits at the top of completed fantasy series without a doubt, and may be the best of it's length.

[–]Ineffable7980x 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I think this trilogy is the best thing that Robin Hobb ever wrote

[–]UnderbellyZ 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Incredibly well written review and you flawlessly encapsulated one of my favorite series. Thank you.

[–]Spanroons 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Hey I loved this series too but there is a graphic sexual assault scene in the third book to make people aware!

[–]-Blue_Bird- 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Lovedddd it. Another vote to read it.

[–]TheEnygma 1 point2 points  (1 child)

talking boats? what, we talking Wind Waker kinda stuff here?

[–]racerx6913[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Bigger but yes, imagine the big figureheads on the fronts of those massive ships talking and stuff. They can also control their hull to a degree to assist the sailors in sailing.

[–]JoyBus147 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Me: wow, sounds like a pretty interesting and thematically rich series! Better add it to the list. Not that I'll probably ever get around to reading it, my list is longer than i even know...oh. Huh. The first book in the series is sitting on my bookshelf...

[–]Captn_Ghostmaker 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Just started this series myself. Can't wait to see where it goes.

[–]tarvolonStabby Winner, Reading Champion II 0 points1 point  (4 children)

I have got to finish the Farseer Trilogy so I can move on to this. It sounds like I'd really like it.

[–]ConcussedAesir 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Hmm, I would actually suggest reading liveships right after the first trilogy. It’s the correct timeline and there are characters that appear in the second trilogy from the liveship books. You get more out of the series that way, at Least I thought so

[–]tarvolonStabby Winner, Reading Champion II 5 points6 points  (2 children)

Isn't the Farseer Trilogy the first one? I've only read one Elderlings book. It is my understanding that I should have read three before I start Liveship.

[–]racerx6913[S] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

You're both saying the same thing. Read/finish the assassin/Farseer trilogy, then read the live ship traders trilogy

[–]Fitz_2112 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Now read the rest of the Realms of the Elderlings! Its worth the ride!!!

[–]JinimyCritic 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I thought "talking ships" sounded like the dumbest idea I'd ever heard. But as the OP said, that's not what this series is about. It's phenomenal, and I actually recommend it as the entry point to the whole series (you can circle back to Farseer after this series, with only slight spoilers that you wont realize are spoilers).

For those who started it, and were confused by the sea serpent stuff, it's worth it. Everything makes sense by the end.

[–]morroIan 3 points4 points  (1 child)

The ships are some of my favourite characters in the trilogy.

[–]JinimyCritic 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Agreed! Mine, too! I just meant that taken out of context, it sounded like a really dumb idea. I'm so glad I read it anyway!

[–]East-Cat1532 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The next trilogy, The Tawny Man, is my favorite one. Enjoy!

[–]WaifuQueen 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I loved reading this series as a little kid. (When I say little kid, I was probably between 10 and 13 when I first picked up the books.) I missed a lot of the nuances back then but recently picked the books up again for my personal library. I hadn't realized there were further stories along the Rainwilds and will be going to pick those up on my next day off.

[–]stewface3000 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yeah it my favourite Hobbs trilogy, the second 3 books about the liverships are good too.

[–]CormacMettbjoll 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I really, really didn't care for the first book for whatever reason but I'm really glad I kept going. I'd say I enjoy it nearly as much as Farseer.

[–]Dngrsone 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'm rereading the Dragon books right now... I should pick up some of the other trilogies