If You Like Robin Hobb Books You’ll Love These
As anyone who reads BestFantasyStories regularly probably knows, Robin Hobb is a favorite author in these parts. Her sense of wonder, her amazing characters and most of all her ability to take us all into her worlds have made her someone we return to again and again. We reviewed her Tawney Man trilogy with a great deal of delight here and looked at her wonderful Liveship Traders Series a while back before then.
It seems that we are not the only one to have enjoyed Robin Hobb and her writing. While it isn’t surprising that fantasy fans that enjoy many of the books here would also know and love Robin Hobb’s adventures, it is nice to find out for certain. We recently had a fan of the site on Twitter ask about other books like the ones Robin writes. Well, it is not the first time someone has asked this question, her books are pretty amazing. So here are some suggestions. Some are from your truly and some are from suggestions made on various fan sites. I think they are all great books. Enjoy!
Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy happens to be a favorite of mine. So when someone suggested his writing, particularly with his book Tigana, has a great deal of the character and feel that you get in Hobb, well I have to agree. This is especially true when it comes to the use of language. Here are two I think would be a great read for any Robin Hobb fan.
This may be a good place to start with, for this author. Although there is no actual magic in the story, this alternate world history has a magical feel to it that is hard to describe. The setting is basically 12th century Europe, more or less in Moorish Spain. Kay has always been amazing at setting up these worlds, and this one gets you into it very quickly.
We see two sides, if not at war they soon will be. There is, of course, plenty of intrigue. There are also some amazing women characters, especially Jehane the accomplished woman who is also the court’s physician. When two warriors, each from a different nation, meet and share a fate only the gods can say where it will lead. A story both subtle and daring, it is told in a way that will have you soon smelling the desert air.
Although definitely a shorter story, many believe it to be his best. In a classic tale of good versus evil that is somewhat reminiscent of Tolkien, we learn of a land destroyed but not forgotten. When war and grief cause a sorcerer to not only destroy a land, but erase its name, how do its people find their identity? Only the survivors even remember the name, and to everyone else, such a place never existed. How then to rebuild a life, find revenge, live with your memories?
A complex story that presents the question of what exactly evil is, for all people are capable of some kind of wrong. Each character reveals in their own way how they manage to cope with loss, accept their lives and yet find within it a way to perhaps move beyond the pain. Only Kay could pull off a story of such complex emotions and still have it ring true for the depth of characters.
Everywhere I looked online, when anyone talks of Robin Hobb, the book and author that comes up the most often is this one. I agree that it probably compares well to Assassin’s Apprentice by Hobb. It is the first book by Rothfuss, and for a debut novel it is a killer. Into the Waystone Inn comes a biographer of tales called The Chronicler. He somehow convinces the owner of the inn to tell us his tale, which in truth is the story of a man who has become legend in that land.
Raised by a traveling troupe of entertainers, left to deal on his own as a wild child of the city when his parents are brutally murdered, Kvothe is not an ordinary man. He tells of learning higher magic and his obsession to find the killers of his family. In time he would become the most notorious magician that this land has ever known. It is a riveting tale that introduces us to Kvothe and The Kingkiller Chronicles. If you don’t believe me, believe Robin Hobb, who wrote a glowing review of it for Amazon when it first came out.
While I would say that most barbarian sword and sorcery stories are not my cup of tea, Dave Duncan pulls it off well with this series. We are introduced to Wallie Smith, a very ordinary guy who suddenly finds he is waking up from an accident in another body. Not just in any body, mind you, but the body of a swordsman on a decidedly different world. Not just any swordsman either, he is the best swordsman in the whole land. Add the legendary sword to go with it and a mission from a goddess and you begin to understand the scope of the first book – The Reluctant Swordsman.
With The Coming of Wisdom we follow Wallie as he grows up, comes to understand his place in this world and in the end make some very important decisions. He may have been given a legendary sword, but now that magicians have returned he isn’t sure it has any value. While trying to fit into this world as well as teach it some values from his own, Wallie continues to be that hidden hero that brought him here in the first place. By the third book – The Destiny of the Sword, Willie finally is coming into his own. He has been handed a mission that if successful will probably end with not only dooming any hope of the world he is in advancing. It will probably doom his goddess as well. What is a hero to do?
There is more here than just the heroic tale and Duncan does it well. Questions of what idealism is or should be and how to deal with power are just the obvious choices. Like any good fantasy writer, there are at least two levels of story within the tales.
Raymond has been writing the series that this book begins for years, decades now. I should know, I read Magician (the original, now broken into two books) the year it came out when I first met Ray. The story grew out of a love of D&D, and role playing games. It may be why he has managed to keep it so amazingly fresh year after year. This story introduces us to Pug, the hero of the series. Here he is simply a kid, learning a trade. He is an orphan and has come to study magic.
But Pug is no ordinary kid, and the magic he does is no ordinary magic. He has a best friend, Thomas. Together they find themselves caught in a war when a rift opens between worlds. The Riftworld War will go on for several books, but if you ever wanted to read a series that truly channels the broad scope of universes at war while focusing on the individual loss and gains of a simple human being, this is the one.
I really do recommend reading this one as well as the second book in the series, Magician: Master. The original book, which was really long, was split into these two and Ray did the rewrites to make them work. There are elves and dwarves, magic and heroics. But there is also loyalty, friendship and love. More than twenty years have passed since I first read it and it still holds true. Now that is great writing.