Fitz, the Fool, and Ann Rule

I like big books and I cannot lie
This short story hater can’t deny
That when a book comes in
At 500+ pages
My heartbeat starts to fly

This week marked the release of Fool’s Quest, the second book in Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy. In preparation I re-read Fool’s Assassin, the first book, and I wasn’t just info gathering knowing that Hobb will jump right in without making the reader slog through clunky backstory. I was deliciously swept away by the story, the characters, and the complexity of the magical systems she’s developed for the story. Book 2 takes the magic even deeper, and promises some answers to questions raised in the previous trilogies–and even ties in the weaker Rain Wild Chronicles to boot. As with any longform work of epic fantasy, you really do have to start at the beginning, which makes it hard to review at this point.

I was on vacation when I finished book 1, and had some time left before I could get home and dive into book 2, so as a palate cleanser I picked Ann Rule’s best book, Small Sacrifices. Rule recently died, leaving behind a legacy of journalistic excellence in the field of true crime that I don’t think will ever be surpassed. She never relied on gore and shock, like many lesser works, but understood that we all want complex characters and the suspense of not knowing if/how things will work out. Not all of her books were great, but she wrote enough great ones that the praise is completely justified. As a mom, I found Sacrifices hard to read (I did not have kids when I read it the first two times), but no less fascinating and heartbreaking–as well as heroic.

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