I got into reading while I was commuting to and from high school. For my friends living in Canberra they are always shocked when I mention it took me roughly 4 hours of the day to commute in Sydney. And so even after spending a portion of that time napping, you have plenty of time to read too.
The school and local library was hence a treasure trove that I had time to explore over the years. And as a kid I did probably judge a book by its cover, and it was YA Fantasy that was the first shelf I always rummaged through, and it was often multi book series that took up a more shelf space that would catch my attention. In hind sight this is probably a solid marketing strategy that even the boardgame world succumbs to, with popular titles having sequels and expansions that take up their own row on the shelf, which in turn gives them even more attention.
Now fast forwarding to a year ago (2019), I live in Canberra where the commute is counted in minutes not hours, and I have not regularly read novels in over a decade. I had made a conscious choice to get better sleeping habits and decided not to touch electronics after 10pm. And so a bedside novel was a self prescribed solution. So when I rocked up to a Lifeline Bookfair, the first section I naturally gravitated to was the fantasy section.
ROBIN HOBB! ROBIN HOBB! ROBIN HOBB! It utterly dominated the section. Not only could you buy the individual books, they had also gladwrapped trilogies in packs for easy purchasing. The choice was breathtaking, so I decided to phone my friend who was an avid reader and writer. He pointed out to me they were a great start and had a unique twist that they were written from a first person perspective (as opposed to the common third person perspective). And so I purchased The Farseer Trilogy for $5 a book, definitely a bargain for the number of hours I spent dodging sleep to read the next chapter.
As someone who is kind of a boardgame critic, that I can break down a game into its individual mechanics and revel at the melody they make together. Similarly I was able to appreciate the brilliance in the writing style, characters, plot, and world buildings that sang together in a wonderful melody that makes up the Farseer Trilogy.
But there is one thing that I want to specifically point out, that made this story stand out from any other fantasy book I have ever read. And that is how emotionally raw and personally interconnected I felt reading the books. The first person perspective combined with how realistic and ‘human’ the plot was (despite the magic and fantasy) really allowed me as a reader to feel the story and not just read about a story. You follow the protagonist from age 5 to retirement. Not only seeing them grow but also seeing their understanding of the world grow. The characters are not just 2D but a their actions and decisions are a result of their history. They are not written as heroes from myths and legends but humans taking human actions and having human reactions.
I unreservedly recommend this trilogy and look forward to reading more Robin Hobb.