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Book Review

Book Cover

The Wilful Princess & the Piebald Prince (Hardback)


Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £14.99, US $35.00
ISBN: 978 0 00 749813 0
Publication Date: 24 October 2013

For anyone who creates a rich fantasy world, there are always tales left untold; stories alluded to in the body of the main text just waiting for their own telling and with Robin Hobb's rich realm this is also the case.

The Wilful Princess and The Piebald Prince (157 pages), written by Robin Hobb, dips back into her Farseer Trilogy to tell a couple of interlinked tales which illuminate the history of her fantasy world.

The tale is told in two parts by and from the perspective of Felicity, one time companion of the Queen-in-waiting, Princess Caution of Buckkeep, from her birth to the birth of her own bastard son.

Over a period of time Hodd’s expands on the lineage which appears in the main novels at once telling a good tale while simultaneously explaining some of the conflict which runs through the Farseer books.

This is a fairly short novella and, for fans of her books, an important tale to tell, but what if you pick this as your first book, does it stand up? The truth is that it works well as a standalone novella if you consider it as a dark fairy tale.

Obviously, you will get a lot more of the stories nuances if your familiar with the larger work, but Hobb’s does not require you to have that insider information. For a start the tale happens before the main body of work, even though it is referenced there.

The tale is not a happy one, but then I’m not sure that this is a requisite factor in fantasy books anymore, neither Tolkien’s The Children of Húrin nor Martins A Song of Fire and Ice end particularly well for their respective protagonists.

The book is illustrated by Jackie Morris, containing one coloured print and a number of non-colour illustrations. Presumably she also contributed the little illustrations which adorn the page numbers.

The book, although part of a greater whole is perfectly suitable to be read by non-fans. Whether you like the story being told from one person’s perspective will be a matter of taste. For fans of the larger series this will be a welcome addition to the series.


Charles Packer

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