To follow up on the material in the last post, some background and context for my proposed series of posts working through a rereading of Robin Hobb’s works seems in order. As noted before, I’ve long been an avid reader of Hobb’s works; I began reading them in the later 1990s, having had the Liveship Traders novels suggested to me by the owner/operator of a local bookseller, Books to Share in Kerrville, Texas. I plowed through the novels greedily, almost salivating as I waited for the last one to come into print, and I soon found myself picking up the earlier-authored Farseer novels, chewing through them with the same relish.
When later novels in the same milieu emerged, I again and again found myself buying them without counting the cost and losing myself for joyful hours among their many pages. It was the kind of reading that pushed me to become an English major when I had to give up on the goal of becoming a band director, the kind of reading that made grad school seem a good idea.
It was the kind of reading that I did not get to do as much as I would have liked in the intervening years. Even though I did my master’s thesis on Hobb’s works, becoming one of the earliest to make a formal, academic study of them, reading for academic work is not the same as reading for love of it. And though there are things that the focused, interrogative reading rewarded by academic humanistic study reveals that no other reading can, I missed reading for the love of the words.
I was not the best student when I was doing the initial reading–at least not of the world outside the classroom. I have since worked to keep a journal, but I did not do so then, not in any way the is currently helpful. My memory is not as good as it used to be. So I am not in a position to do as Luke Shelton did in his own work recalling Tolkien; I do not recall many of my first impressions of the books. (There are a few such things, admittedly: here, here, here, here, here, and here. I am more proud of some than of others.)
Consequently, I will not be giving first impressions, except incidentally as I may end up remembering them while I read. Instead, I will be reading the novels again, following the main narrative arc and going back after to pick up some of the incidental and subsidiary materials. I generally don’t do fandom studies; I don’t much engage fandom anymore, for reasons I’ve noted. I might welcome comments from those who do engage such materials; I would love for a discussion to be ongoing. But I can hope that the reflection on such things from years after my first readings will offer some insights that those initial readings would not have done, and I can hope that they will be of some value other than just to me.