This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

22 November, 2011

REVIEW: THE INHERITANCE

Cover Art: Jackie Morris

THE INHERITANCE
BY
ROBIN HOBB
AND
MEGAN LINDHOLM

ISBN: 978-0-00-727377-5
Pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: 31 March 2011

On the cover:

In The Homecoming, Lady Carillion Carrock and a number of other Jamaillian nobles are sailing to the Cursed Shores. Their journey is not by choice: for plotting against the Satrap, their wealth has been confiscated and they have been exiled. Until now, Carillion has done nothing but lead a life of privilege. She believes they are bound for wondrous cities, cities where ancient kings and queens dusted their skin with gold and wore jewels above their eyes. But when she is marooned by the ship’s unscrupulous captain, she will soon discover the grim reality of what survival in the Rain Wilds entails.

The Silver Lady is a would-be writer, ekeing out a dull existence by working in a Sears store. The one day a man comes in: fortyish, pleasant-looking. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except he says his name is Merlin, and he’s about to change her life.

Rosemary got involved with the wrong man. Pell is lazy, good for nothing, a bully. Her best friend Hilia knew it and so did her tom cat, Marmalade. But love is blind: Rosemary had Pell’s baby, renovated the cottage his grandfather left in his will, turned its land to good use; and then he left her for another woman. Now he’s back, and something must be done…

   This book is split into two parts, at least in the table of contents, one for each author. And as the author(s) herself writes in the preface (, and after reading the book I agree with,) they are two distinctly different authors even though they are only one person. But it is kind of an interesting question if this is an anthology, because it has stories by two different authors, or a collection, since it is written by one person.
   As usual I will review each story by itself with a short summary at the end.

LINDHOLM

A TOUCH OF LAVENDER

   It's very hard to say anything about this story without spoiling it, and I want any other reader to come to it fresh, like I did. So this will be rather short on details.
   The setting is our planet, but with the difference that humans co-exist with alien exiles, this is also a large part of the premise of the story. Lindholm has really nailed the setting, it feels very believable, and also original.
   As for the story, I'm not exactly revealing anything when I say that I really liked it. It is well worth reading, even if you don't consider yourself a Science Fiction fan.

   This is actually the first story I have ever read by Lindholm, (I write these reviews after each story, so I have only read this one from the book as I write this,) and I find myself wondering what took me so long. It's a great way to start a collection, and has me excited for the rest of the book.

SILVER LADY AND THE FORTYISH MAN

   A love story that (may) have some magic thrown into the mix. For me this story didn't really stand out in any way. It is by no means bad, in fact it does what it does very well, but it was just not for me. But although I didn't connect with it, I am sure there are many others who will like it a lot.

CUT

   Set in the future, this story is about the alterations we do to our bodies and the bodies of our children. It walks a very fine line between being preachy or not, and Lindholm resists the temptation to make anything too black and white.
   I think this would have worked better for me as a longer story. The central idea is good, and the society in which it is set deserves a closer(/longer) look in my opinion.

THE FIFTH SQUASHED CAT

   This is one of those stories that I can't really decide if I like or not. It has a central theme that is about magic, and it is well written. But yet I always come out of reading this type of story a bit unfulfilled and wondering if there is really any point to it at all. It is not something I connected with. I am sure others will feel satisfied by the theme and the philosophy, and connect with it more than I did. But I come away with feeling that I want there to be more story in a story.
   That being said, the theme here is not dissimilar to Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man, and I would probably have liked it better if I had read this on its own and not so close after that story.

STRAYS

   A story of social realism with a magical twist, and cats as a central part of it. 
   I found this a very thoughtful story. Some of its themes are very important ones, and Lindholm handles them with the respect they deserve. It is a very good story. And if you love cats it is a must.

FINIS

   This is a vampire story. But it is not the type of story that you would normally associate with vampires. The originality of it makes it stand out from the pack (,or is that swarm or maybe brood?) That being said, the ending is not really surprising, you can see it coming very early in the story. But that does not really matter in this case. The journey to the ending is both enjoying and very interesting, and a well written one.

DRUM MACHINE

   The last story from Lindholm is a Science Fiction story that is set in a society that have some differences to the one we live in that makes for an unpleasantly possible future scenario.
   I liked this story a lot. Both the characters and the story are engaging, and Lindholm manages to tell a lot about its setting in a few pages. 

HOBB

HOMECOMING

   This story was first published in the anthology Legends II, edited by Robert Silverberg, in 2004. In order of publication it follows The Liveship Traders trilogy, and although in the internal chronology of Hobb's world it tells of the beginning of the Rain Wilds settlement, I'd urge any reader to first read The Liveship Traders trilogy before this story. If you start with this, some of the events in that trilogy will be spoiled for you.

   Since I love The Liveship Traders trilogy I found this tale absolutely wonderful, and I think this could very well be Hobb's best work. The narrative is framed as a diary, and this works very well. The woman writing it comes of as a sympatetic and well rounded character, and her voice is very well suited to the story.
   Despite knowing, or at least strongly suspecting, where the story is going to end up, Hobb manages to make it suspenseful. There is a doubt throughout as to the faith of the expedition this story tells of that makes it a real page-turner. 
   This is a story every fan of Hobb should read, and especially thosethat enjoyed The Liveship Traders trilogy. And I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes Fantasy, it is a great Novella.

THE INHERITANCE

   Set in the world of The Liveship Traders trilogy, this is an excellent little story of a woman coming into her Bingtown inheritance. As with Homecoming it is best read after The Liveship Traders trilogy. But it will also serve as a great introduction to Hobb for those who are funfamiliar with her work, as it stands on its own as a story.

CAT'S MEAT

   This story is set in Buck in the Six Duchies. And those who have read Hobb's two trilogies about FitzChivalry will recognise both names and elements from those. But this is set on the opposite ened of the social scale from the royalty of those two trilogies.
   The story is a very powerful one, and Hobb really manages to make the reader feel for the characters in this story. If you don't feel sympathy for the characters here you must have a heart of stone. It really is a story that deserves to be wider read than the obvious appeal it will have to the fans of Hobb's Six Duchies stories.

SUMMARY

   This is a great introduction to the two authors. I'm sure many, like me, who are fans of Hobb have not read Lindholm, and this is a good place to start. I may not have connected with all the stories, and especially the Lindholm part took some being used to after reading a lot of Hobb's work previously. But I really enjoyed Lindholm's style too, and have already purchased a couple of her books on the strength of this collection/anthology.
   For Hobb fans it is an essential purchase. The novella Homecoming in itself justified the purchase to me, and there is a lot of other great stories here.


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