Robin Hobb was one of the guest authors at the first ever Spec Fiction convention I went to. I had never heard of her so I borrowed a book off a friend. It was fantasy, I had read a bit of fantasy but it hadn’t grabbed me. The book I borrowed didn’t grab me, it consumed me. One of the great joys of coming to a fantasy writer late is that you get to binge on full series, you don’t need to wait a year or three between books. And binge is exactly what I did.
The first series I read was the Farseer Trilogy, followed by the Live Ship Traders. They were both superb. Her world-building is colourful and logical, the characters are flawed but likable, and there is enough politics going on to keep it interesting, but not enough to get you confused. I loved disappearing into this world of no computers, no monthly pay packets and no crowded city commutes.
The only reason I didn’t finish (yet) the Tawny Man series is because a character I loved died, and each time I picked up the next book in the series I was reminded of that and started crying again. Yes, I cry sometimes just thinking about this character dying. I’ve never had a book do that to me so long after reading it before. I think I’m nearly ready to get over it, it’s been more than ten years now.
If you are looking for a true escape from the real world, then these are the books for you. They do have a little magic in them, but quite frankly if a fantasy book doesn’t have magic then it might as well be historical fiction as far as I’m concerned. Provided there are rules around the use of the magic, which Robin Hobb does apply, then I’m happy.