Author: Robin Hobb –
Publisher: HarperCollins –
Genre: Fantasy –
Overall rating: 4/5 –
Writing: 4/5 –
Duration: 21:04 (Shaman’s Crossing), 24:48 (Forest Mage), 24:19 (Renegade’s Magic) (very long) –
Narrator: Jonathan Barlow –
Narrator/performance: 4/5 –
Impressions: 4/5 –
Performance errors: 2/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 4/5 –
Having read a lot of works by Robin Hobb, I am not sure how I feel about her characters “hearing voices”, even in a magical fantasy setting. However, this trilogy is indeed very readable. The story is coherent and just at the brink of becoming too long. The choices the Author made here are unconventional and rather surprising. At the beginning the story feels slightly post-apocalyptic or in the vicinity of a steampunk western. Then it makes a turn. There is school, family, society, culture, politics and travel. There is a lot of attention to detail, to clothes, architecture, cultural differences, personality traits, climates and ecosystems. There are several different sources of magics invented by the Author. And when one begins to fear that the story is yet another Avatar, the story twists again. There are even short elements of horror which I found hilarious (if so many genres, why not horror on top of everything?). It is impossible to capture all of the elements and settings the story contains.
I certainly liked the ending. The Author succeeded in hiding an additional plot layer in a way that I find quite innovative. I liked the interpretation by Jonathan Barlow. Still, the trilogy is rather demanding in terms of concentration and commitment. It is not an easy read and it may become quite gory at times. The violence is not dominant, fortunately for the sensitive readers. I also think that the Author overrates the extent to which the readers get attached to her characters – but that may be only my impression.
The covers are exceptionally good work, I love each and every one of them. They are not only made with one style, but are also standalone pieces which look good together. Such combination is rare to find in audiobooks.