Killing off the Bad Guy: Robin Hobb Series Finale
by Stella Atrium 5/1/13
I’m an unabashed fan of Robin Hobb and force copies her books on my
friends so we can discuss the characters and inventive plot twists
later. Dragon warming stations! What a hoot!
I’ve read each
series as they were published, and cried when the grey wolf died, and
when the Fool and Fitz were separated in the fourth connected trilogy. I
knew that Hobb had a talent for wrapping up story lines to a satisfying
ending that signaled the reader that this character’s arch was finished
now, as she did when Fitz settled in with his childhood sweetheart
after his soul was made whole by the Fool’s most recent adventure with
magic (trying not to give away the climax).
stories have influenced readers and other writers who use (or skim)
plot ideas that were made whole in Hobb’s fertile imagination. GRR
Martin allows certain characters, designated wogs, to ride-along on the
spirits of animals, for example, even though he keeps that feature in
the background of his series Game of Thrones.
Martin seems a bit
trapped with Daenerys’ dragons, still infants in Book VI, because
communication beyond hand signals will seem to imitate Hobb’s work. I
wonder how he will resolve that conundrum.
Blood of Dragons was made available in April 2013, I had mixed
emotions. I didn’t want the long-enjoyed world that leads to exploration
of the fabled city of Kelsingra to end, so I actually put off the
reading of to savor the anticipation.
The first three books of
this storyline presented stunted dragons and their malformed keepers who
were young people just exploring girl-boy friendships. I liked that
Hobb included hard choices for the girls, and provided the girl
characters with the presence of mind, prompted by queen dragons, to
manage events. Too many writers for sci-fi or fantasy neglect the hunger
of girl fans to engage with characters like them.
Robin Hobb has
more well-drawn characters than she needs to finish the series, and only
nods to Althea and Brashen (and their liveship Paragon) who readers
have followed in earlier stories. She holds certain developments for the
young keepers to the very end, and even brings old-world dragons
Tintaglia and Icefyre back into the mix.
The richness of the
stories almost invites new episodes in older storylines like the dime
novels that use characters from an old Star Trek series. Except Hobb’s
endless invention for new twists would be missing from these.
I can add one sour note… When the bad guys are removed, mostly by
dragon anger or indifference, the story sorta falls flat. Many stories
are bad guy driven, of course, like any Spiderman is memorable more for
who played the villain than for who played Spidey. And Hobb’s villains
are often without redeeming features. But the power of the dragons is
so overwhelming that the deaths seem puny, and the humans who kowtowed
to the bad guys seem parochial in their fear. Here’s a clear warning
for Martin when Daenerys’ dragons are grown, hey?
sci-fi reader should schedule reading Hobb’s books in order from the
beginning (Assassin’s Apprentice) since certain secrets about the Skill
and jitzin and flame jewels are revealed in this latest episode. I hope
there are more in the works! I envy the reader her many hours of
solitary enjoyment ahead.