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A non-review, which basically means I am conflicted up to my eyeballs, and I really don't know how to rate or review Fool's Quest due to a heart to head smack down. So, I'll ramble it out as a blog post, so I can understand as I explain it.
My heart says, this is Fitz and The Fool, this is Robin Hobb, you love it! YOU LOVE IT, LIKE YOU LOVE BACON, DAMN IT!
My head says, this was badly edited and put together, and if it were any other book, I would probably complain about it till the cows come home.
So, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to leave it un-rated, but I will try and explain the conflict, so that I don't look like I'm simply dismissing the book. It doesn't deserve that, it wasn't a horrible book; very far from it. It just simply shouldn't have been released, in the state it is in.
Hobb is one of those writers that doesn't just play your heart strings, she rips them out and drops them at your feet. She thoroughly immerses the reader in the way she presents her stories and characters, to the point you feel as though your heart is haemorrhaging at every turn; whether it's mournful or joyful moments! And Fool's Quest does that with gusto! From the beginning, there are so many gut punching moments, I had to put the book down a few times, because it made my insides hurt. These characters are almost family! I've spent ten years traversing their tales, anything that happens to them, feels like it's happening to family.
But then, I started to notice things that pulled me out of my Six Duchies reverie, and into my editing brain; a place I do not want to be visiting when I am reading a finished product! There were so many continuity errors I was flummoxed. There were redundant scene descriptions that were repeated almost word for word, as if they had been moved but not taken out from their original position (eg. the divided camp with the three legged pot). Then the constant repetition, which started out seeming like thoroughness, but ended up feeling like it didn't trust me to remember that the exact same conversation/thought played out a chapter before.
So, in turn, the impact of Hobb's words started to flounder, I felt annoyed instead of heart-broken at what was happening in the book, and my reverie was in a shambles. Even though I loved the book, I could not love the book as a published work. I mourned this fact with a friend, because I really hated that I felt that way about a book by The Hobb (as we like to call her..) There were many sad faced emojis.
Then a few days ago, it was found that the Random House (US) edition had left in a full paragraph at the end, that Hobb had actually deleted in the Harper (UK) edition, as it was erroneous to the rest of the text. Whoa! I had finished the book at that stage, so it didn't impact on my reading of it, but it has made me think...
I don't really blame anybody for any of it. Hobb admitted that the book was rushed due to a major overhaul, and was sending in changes right up to the last minute. I cannot attest to what that overhaul included, or why it happened, but I am assuming that some of that last minute rush can explain some of the repetition and continuity problems that occurred.
I don't blame the editor either, because making changes to a 700+ page manuscript, would've been really bloody hard to deal with last minute (though I did before Hobb explained what had occurred).
But maybe I do blame the publishers a teensy bit. Release dates are not set in stone. Fantasy readers know that. We pretty much EXPECT delays to happen. I am sure changing simultaneous release dates would be a harrowing prospect, especially when you are releasing it through competing houses in different territories (Random House and Harper Collins). But, in not pushing it back to fully accommodate Hobb's changes, they've released a book that when all the fanperson 5 starring dies down, probably won't hold up to scrutiny.
I actually feel sorry for Robin, she was mea culpa-ing her heart out the other day, and I wanted to find her and give her major hug time. It shouldn't happen, somebody should've been watching this book like a god damned hawk, knowing how adored Hobb is by the fantasy world, and in turn how big a seller it would be
So yeah, maybe I do blame the publishers for not getting together and saying 'You know what, we can hack giving you another month or two, we demand you take the time, and give your manuscript all the love you need to".. No asking, demanding. As soon as it was obvious. Rushing, should not have been an option.
So there you go. I got a bit ranty I guess. But crikey dingoes, you don't mess with Fitz & The Fool and expect me not get a bit flustered.. And there you see why I am conflicted, because my heart says "it's a 5 star book". My head says, "yeah, maybe if it had been cut down about 200 pages and actually put together properly".
Right now, I'm just going to put it aside, and hope that they take more care with book 3. It looks like it'll be the last, and it should get all the bloody love it deserves... Or WRATH! :)
Please note, all of these opinions are my own. I am not part of either publishing group, nor am I part of Robin Hobb's team. If my ideas are not correct, I'd be happy to change my opinions. I WANT to be able to in fact, as I respect all parties that are included in this post..