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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.

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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: