I began reading this thinking it was Hobb's first in her series. I was right, and I was wrong. It's the first in a series, secondary to the main series for these characters. After I had listened to 4 or 5 hours of the audiobook, once I discovered the truth, the weirdnesses of hinted-at backstories made a lot more sense.
I went to check that this was the correct first book because I began to get extremely impatient with the pacing of the story. While it was interesting and not without conflict or character development, even at the 1/4 mark through the novel, I had no hopes of the plot developing into anything definite. The protagonist just stayed at home and pondered his simple life. It was insufferable!
But once I understood this was just how the book was going to proceed, I determined to continue reading -- but easily, at a marathon pace, or maybe a trip sailing across the Pacific. This was apparently not a battle-cry epic or a lit-dynamite thriller. Reading it thusly, I settled in with contentment and was pleased with what resulted.
The author has a *strong* command of character, and she keeps a consistent pace relating the protagonist's thoughts and motives through inactive stretches and through more thrilling scenes. I was also pleasantly surprised to find this protagonist to be believable as a man -- especially in so many roles which seemed to center on his maleness, such as father, hunter, lover, and warrior -- even while the author is a woman.
I want to note that the magics in this book seem just as well thought out and immersive as the character of the main dude. It fascinates me how different fantasy/sci-fi writers tackle magic or advanced technology in so many varied ways. In this author's work, it works well -- creating wonder and ongoing tension.
I would recommend this for anyone not seeking a 3-day page-turner. This book invites you in, has tea with you, and begins (or continues) facilitating a friendship with "Tom Badgerlock" (a friendship not without its quarrels, since you are bound to disagree with his choices on multiple occasions) and his bond-wolf. Then, you might just be carried off on a bit of an expanding adventure before all's said and done.
PG-13 for violence, sexuality, and for language
First book in Robin Hobb's The Tawny Man Trilogy and no less satisfying than her Assassin's Triology. It's a continuation for some of the same characters, albeit older and wiser from experiences in the first set of Assassin's books. Again, not able to put down and had to stay up many nights in a row to finish. I agree with some commentary that the book could be streamlined a bit as there seemed to just be a bit too much repetition. But at the end of the day, I would rather read some of the plodding in this book because it does get better. This series is not to be missed if you love FitzChivalry and his cohorts.
EXCELLENT ! - as Robin Hobb's writing always is. Was hard to put down.
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