Book Reviews

Book Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is one of those books that come at the right time in one’s life. At this moment, I feel like I am on a bridge hovering between before pandemic times and after pandemic times. Due to all of the restrictions, our world has shrunk these last two years. At the same time, we always find there is more to discover.

The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; it’s Kindness infinite.

Piranesi, Susanna Clarke

Our house kept us safe these past two years. Our house provided a space for us to live. And admittedly, we hadn’t been in one house last year. There was a period where we were between places. But our house was also what connected us and held us together. So the house is more than a physical space.

But what about the book? It is quite a lovely read. The main character, Piranesi, is a kind soul and it is heartwarming to see how much he cares for the House and the inhabitants in it. That includes the dead, alive and statues. They are all part of the House and all deserve to share in it’s kindness.

What makes this book an enjoyable read is it’s prose. You can tell that Clarke crafted this story with as much love and attention Piranesi gives to the House. I don’t want to go too much into the plot or details because I do believe that this is a tale that is best uncovered without spoilers. Just like Piranesi walks from room to room without knowing what comes next. Or even what came before.

I admit after finishing the book I went back and looked up the prints and drawings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi and I do recommend others do the same. I can almost image myself walking through the great house with endless halls.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

When it comes to the Skill, the more you use it the more it pulls you in. The same can be said for reading anything by Robin Hobb and the Realm of the Elderlings. At least, that is what I felt after finishing the third book in the Farseer Trilogy.

If you are just stumbling on this post, I have also written reviews for Assassin’s Apprentice and Royal Assassin.

I admit this book was quite lengthy and at time challenging to read because the pace was slow. In some ways though the slow pace complemented the situation that Fitz was facing as he traveled alone towards the mountains. I don’t know if it was intentional or not but sometimes there are moments where everything seems to slow down before a decision gets made or a lot of things start to change very quickly. Fitz’s journey towards Tradeford felt just like that.

Even while he was at Trade you could tell that this wouldn’t be the point of Fitz’s story. It happened too fast in some ways. It also didn’t feel like the ending because while at Tradeford, when he was on the precipice of making his own choice – a choice was made for him. Well, it was put into him so that he had to follow it to the ends of the world it seemed.

Come to me

Fitz had always struggled with the fact that everyone around him makes decisions about him without even asking what he wants. This book is no exception. When he ends up in the mountain kingdom and the old political schemes pick up again and without thinking about the impact it has on him. His life is sworn to the Farseer line, he doesn’t get a say after all. It makes him bitter and want to throw it all aside. Except the words still scratch at his mind.

Come to me.

So he keeps going. By the end of the book he realizes that no one is ever truly free to make their own choices. Everything he does has an impact somewhere. To make a choice is to accept the consequences that brings. To make a choice is to accept the pain it brings. All of it is part of life. And he doesn’t have to do it alone anymore. He has a pack. Honestly seeing his relationship with Nighteyes and the Fool strengthen is one of the greatest joys in this book. By the end of the book Fitz has finally discovered what it means to have true friends. He also has realized that sometimes, it is best to let go of the past.

Previous reviews for the Farseer Trilogy:

Book Reviews

Book Review: Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

Royal Assassin is the second book in the Farseer Trilogy.

Read my review for Book One, Assassin’s Apprentice.

Again, it is the life that Robin Hobb give her characters that shines through. Fitz the bastard. Fitz the assassin. Fitz the fool. Fitz the boy-not-yet-man. It is a lonely life to hold so many identities. It is lonelier still to come of age without knowing who you are and the pain of doing so shows in every choice Fitz makes.

It is at times a frustrating read because you are left wondering why is he doing that?! And you ride along as Fitz has to face consequences of his own making. And still, you get frustrated because at times it feels like the answer is so close- and yet Fitz can’t see it. At the end of it though, this is a story about Fitz.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t any surprises for the readers. Robin Hobb has left some things for us to tease out and wonder how we could miss things. But what truly carries you through the book is her writing and how real the people of Buckkeep feel. They are each as fallible as the next and the decisions they make pay hefty consequences.

Especially when it comes to Fitz. You can tell he is angry when he comes back to Buckkeep. Angry at his perceived frailty. Angry at the situation orchestrated by Regal. Angry with the world as most young men often are.

He is also lonely and it is a lonely one that he created for himself. He can’t bring himself to trust anyone fully and he becomes ensnared in a web of his secrets. He asks for everyone again and again to trust him and yet… he can’t extend that trust back. Especially when others need it most from him. The result is he that becomes a victim to a tragedy of his own making.

I admit I am curious now about Book three. Will he see it that way? Or will he continue to be angry at the world and continue pushing people away? But how far can you push people before they are gone for good?

Admittedly, I don’t have much of a summary this time. I suppose I ended up with a lot to think about. That alone says enough about what you will feel after reading this book. Normally when it comes to coming of age books the main character ends up becoming more secure and finding themself. By the end of Royal Assassin, I find that Fitz is not quite there yet.

We’ll have to see what Book Three, Assassin’s Quest, brings.

Other reviews for the Farseer Trilogy:

Book Reviews Fantasy

Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Book One of the Farseer Trilogy.

Years ago I fell in love with The Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb. Recently, it occurred to me that I was doing myself a disservice by not reading the rest of her work. So I am turning back to the beginning and reading the Farseer Trilogy.

Assassin’s Apprentice is the first book in the trilogy and begins with Fitz being handed off to Verity’s household at 6 years old. Under the care of the stable hand Burrich, Fitz travels to Buckkeep, the seat of the Farseer family. While there Fitz grows from a stubborn and insolent child in a young boy in desperate need of guidance and friends. Eventually, he find himself under the tutelage of the court assassin and learns more about the heritage his blood allows- bastard or not.

I’ll keep the summary short because mostly I think it is a story the reader should enjoy for themselves. This story is a character study following a young boy who is struggling to find his place in a world that continuously reminds him he deserves none. I admit that sometimes I struggle with stories that begin when a main character is so young. And I struggled with the slower pace of this book at the beginning.

At the same time I appreciated it when I finished the book because it was only through understanding the loneliness of Fitz’s childhood that you understand his need to belong and find his place. Just like with The Liveship Traders, it is the way the characters are written where Hobb’s writing truly shines. They have a complexity that make them leap from the pages. When they misstep or make a stupid choice (and they do) you are frustrated but also understanding because those choices make sense based on who they are – maddening as it may be.

This book also took some patience since we only saw things from Fitz’s point of view. From being a child and then a young boy, it meant that there were plenty of questions that went unanswered. Like Chade, I want to know more about the Skill and how it is applied. What is happening on the Red Ships? I’m sure it will all be answered is time. Until then, I look forward to reading more about Fitz’s story in Book Two – Royal Assassin.

Other reviews for the Farseer Trilogy: