The Tawny Man Trilogy (Realm of the Elderlings 7-9) by Robin Hobb - Book Review

Write on: Fri, 29 Nov 2019 by  in John's Reviews Read 2713

The Tawny Man Trilogy (Books 7-9 in the Realm of the Elderlings Series) by Robin Hobb is the direct sequel trilogy to her Farseer Trilogy and indirect sequel to her Liveship Traders Trilogy. It is told from the perspective of FitzChivalry Farseer (now known as Tom Badgerlock) as he recounts his history in the Six Duchies. After the events of Assassin’s Quest, Fitz has retired to a quiet life with his Wit-bonded wolf Nighteyes and his adopted son, Hap. Although Starling the bard visits on occasion, his connections to Buckkeep and the Farseers have been more of less severed as the majority of his friends and family believe he is dead.

All of this changes in Fool’s Errand when Fitz’s old friend the Fool shows up on his doorstep bringing with him a whole new adventure. Prince Dutiful, Witted son of Kettricken and Verity, has gone missing, and for time to be set in its best course, Fitz must bring him home. Featuring friends and enemies, new and old, Fool’s Errand elevates Fitz’s story and the entire series, adding new details and flavors of worldbuilding while building on the two previous trilogies.

The story continues in Golden Fool where the adventures from Fool’s Errand return to Buckkeep. Although Prince Dutiful has been rescued from the Witted renegades called the Piebalds, his standing is far from secure. In order to remain close to his nephew and distant from his daughter, Fitz takes up a secret position in his court, Skill Master. New enemies from the distant past rise from the shadows, putting their nefarious machinations into motion as Fitz and the Fool struggle with their relationship as White Prophet and Catalyst.

Fool’s Fate brings a stunning and mostly sweet ending to the trilogy as the events of Golden Fool ripple forward. Prince Dutiful, along with his Wit and Skill coteries, must travel to distant lands in order to slay a mythological dragon and secure the Six Duchies’ alliance with the Outislanders who plagued them during the Farseer Trilogy. Not only the Fool’s fate, but the very fate of the human race is on the line as two powers vie for control over the world’s destiny. Only Fitz can choose the direction, but his choice is far from predetermined. As always, his allegiances pull him in separate directions, but it is a choice only he can make.

When I determined to start reading more books written by women, I knew Robin Hobb had to be at the top of my list. What I wasn’t expecting was for Hobb to rival, and in so many ways surpass, my favorite fantasy authors. Her characters are so relatable, making decisions understandable and at times maddening, and yet you root for them the entire way. The suspense is palpable. So many things go awry for Fitz, the reader really doesn’t know if success is inevitable, and even if it is, the consequences of success are oftentimes as costly as failure. The worldbuilding is astounding. Although not strictly speaking necessary for Fitz’s story, it was such a pleasure to recognize details and characters from the Liveships Traders. It adds a level to the story I’ve hitherto not experienced in any other series. The magic systems are mysterious and aloof in a way that is absolutely necessary to the world and story. The prose is poignant and unlike Assassin’s Fate, which felt overwritten in places, there is nothing bloated here. And the ending, oh that ending, makes me hesitant to continue the series, at least Fitz’s story. It makes me glad that there’s a tetralogy between me and Fool’s Assassin (Book 1 of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy). I’m not ready to let go and say good-bye to FitzChivalry, and for the love of all that is decent and holy (or grim and dark) don’t even tell me how you feel about the ending. I don’t want to know.

In conclusion, the Tawny Man trilogy is a supreme work of fantasy fiction, a story unparalleled in my mind. It is a distinct pleasure to give all three books 5/5 stars. I cannot recommend the Realm of the Elderlings hard enough. Please, do yourself a favor and pick up Assassin’s Apprentice and get started. Fool’s Fate alone makes the nine book journey worth it, and I hope to say the same about the entire series when I’ve finished it.


John Scritchfield spends his days caring for his four children and his nights wearing costumes and pretending to hit people with blunt weaponry. There is very little money it. He holds an MFA in Acting, which he puts to use as the Creative Director for the Calvin Theatre Company at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he also teachesIn his free time, he enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, reading, writing, and spending time with his wife, children, and two cats (Jasnah and Vin). Oh, he's also the Booknest co-Admin.