Robin Hobb’s The Realm of the Elderlings

When I am not at work, my mind is in the Realm of the Elderlings. At least lately.

I’ve been inhaling Robin Hobb‘s books for the last two months now. So far, she has 12 books in her Realm of the Elderlings universe, namely:

The Farseer TrilogyAssassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin’s Quest

The Farseer Trilogy

Liveship Traders TrilogyShip of Magic, Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny

Liveship Traders Trilogy

The Tawny Man TrilogyFool’s Errand, Golden Fool, Fool’s Fate
The Tawny Man Trilogy

The Rain Wild ChroniclesDragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons

The Rain Wild Chronicles

It took me less than a week to finish Assassin’s Apprentice and Royal Assassin. I had to slow down when I got to Assassin’s Quest because the books were taking me away from the stuff I needed to do. Right now I’m midway through Fool’s Fate, but I skipped the Liveship books for now because I wanted to know what happened with FitzChivalry Farseer, the main character and narrator of the first and third trilogies.

The Realm of the Elderlings books are probably some of the best fantasy books I’ve read in years. They’re not high fantasy like The Lord of the Rings, and they’re not as sweeping as A Song of Ice and Fire. The RotE books read more like an historical drama with small touches of magic. But in these books, Robin Hobb gave us flawed and relatable heroes – hopelessly silly at times, utterly passionate about what they want, and thoroughly believable.

I particularly found the relationship between the two main characters in the first and third trilogies, FitzChivalry and the Fool, very endearing. They are the very definition of the word “bromance.” The two of them would argue and fight, but there is no question that one of them would give his life for the other if needed.

Here’s an excerpt from Fool’s Fate, which I believe is one of those that best described the dynamics between Fitz and the Fool. [Spoiler Alert]

He gave me a piteous look. I gave him a few moments to calm before I spoke quietly. “So. You are saying, if I see something killing you, I’m to let it happen? Even if I can prevent it?”

Suddenly he seemed confused. “I suppose so…”

“What if it’s the wrong thing? What if I see a bear killing you, and you’re supposed to die in an avalanche? And I do nothing, so you die in the wrong way, and it’s still all for nothing.”

He looked at me blankly for a moment. “But that… No. I think you’ll know. When the time comes, I think you’ll know what—”

“And if I don’t? If I make a mistake, what then?”

“I don’t…” He faltered to a halt.

I pounced. “Do you see how stupid this is? I cannot possibly stand by and watch you die, Fool. I know that and you know that. You’d be asking me to be profoundly different from who I am. You’d be making the change, not me. And didn’t you once tell me that precipitating the change was my task, not yours? So don’t ask it of me. If fate demands that you be dead, well, then I’ll probably be dead too. At that point, I doubt if it will matter much to either of us.” I stood abruptly. “And that’s the last that we’re saying about this. This is a discussion that I choose not to have. It’s late, and I’m tired. I’m going to bed.”

The change that came over his face shocked me. I saw naked relief in his eyes. I think then I understood just how much he truly feared what he felt he had to face. That he had not revealed it to anyone was as great a show of courage as I have ever known. As I lifted the tent flap, he spoke again. “Fitz. I’ve really missed you. Don’t go. Sleep here tonight. Please.”

So I did.

Have you encountered an endearing platonic relationship between two characters in any fiction book you’ve read? Who are they and why did you find them endearing?


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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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