Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! And what’s a better special-day gift than the gift of fantasy? Today, we’re looking at a book of stories, new and old, by bestselling fantasy author Robin Hobb, written both under her own name and under the name Megan Lindholm.
I’d like to welcome guest reviewer, author Kathryn Scannell. Kathryn writes fantasy and erotic romance. She makes her living doing database management, programming, and general IT support for an environmental consulting firm. She has a BA in German, a BS in Computer Science, a minor in English, and a head full of facts about odd things. She lives in southern New Hampshire with her wife Beth and their seven cats.
Her first novel, Embracing the Dragon, was released by Torquere Books in April 2011. You can reach her by email, her website, and check out her blog.
Now, let’s look at The Inheritance and Other Stories–and read to the end for a chance to win a copy for yourself!
ABOUT THE BOOK: Long before she became an acclaimed New York Times bestselling author, Robin Hobb began her writing career to great acclaim under the name Megan Lindholm. Though they derive from the same imagination, Hobb and Lindholm are separate, diverse identities. “They may use the same battered keyboard, the one with the letters worn off the buttons. But they are not the same author, but rather two writers with different styles, issues and choices of tale,” Hobb/Lindholm explains. The Inheritance brings together the diverse imaginings of this award-winning writer for the first time, featuring classic and new short works under both names. The collection is comprised of three expansive stories from Robin Hobb, including the title story “The Inheritance,” never before available in the U.S., and a brand-new tale, “Cat’s Meat.” Contributions from Megan Lindholm include her Hugo and Nebula finalist story, “A Touch of Lavender,” and Nebula finalist “Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man.” In addition, there are several new Lindholm stories as well as some older stories brought back into print.
KATHRYN’S REVIEW: I’ve read and enjoyed novel-length works from both Lindholm and Hobb, but the author’s short fiction was new to me. I will confess that I didn’t take the assertion in the introduction that they were very different authors despite being the product of the same person seriously. I was surprised to find myself wrong.
All the stories in this collection are finely crafted. They grab your imagination, take you away, and leave images behind which stay with you well after you’ve finished the story. However that’s where the similarity ends.
I find that I have a strong preference for the Hobb stories over the Lindholm stories. The difference, quite simply, is that Hobb takes me places I want to go. The Lindholm stories are thought provoking, but I don’t find them very comfortable for the most part. If you’re in a mood to read serious stories that ask hard questions about our lives and society, I think you’ll enjoy the Lindholm stories which comprise the first half of the book. I don’t recommend reading them if you’re feeling depressed.
I enjoyed the three longer stories under the Hobb penname much more, so let me talk about them a bit.
“Homecoming” – this story chronicles the fate of a colonization expedition into the Rain Wilds, which will be familiar to readers of the Rain Wild Chronicles. It takes the form of diary entries, which give us glimpses into the mind and heart of the narrator. At first she’s a very unsympathetic character, a spoiled aristocrat who blames her husband for forcing her and her children into this unpleasant venture. However as the story proceeds and things go increasingly badly for the expedition, she grows and matures, taking responsibility for her life, developing common sense, and becoming a leader among the colonists. It was a real pleasure to watch that change happen.
“The Inheritance” – This story takes us back to the world of the Liveship traders. It skillfully uses traditional fairy tale elements- the good-hearted young woman who is left penniless by a greedy step-parent and step-sisters and the mysterious or magical advisor who helps her. She takes the road with only the clothes on her back, and a pendant belonging to her grandmother which has unexpected magical properties. With its guidance she reclaims a part of the inheritance her grandmother should have been able to leave her, although it’s form is not quite what you’d expect from a traditional fairy tale. Like “Homecoming”, this one has a strong note of hope in the ending.
“Catsmeat” – This is a creepy tale. Our heroine is a determined young woman, making her way after being left pregnant and penniless by a handsome local boy who threw her over to chase a rich man’s daughter. Again this borrows strongly from traditional fairy tales, but with a twist. The young woman is making her way successfully, with a bit of help from the child’s grandfather, when the young man returns to threaten that as well. Fortunately for her she has a helper, a cat of unusual intelligence. He sees clearly that the man is a problem that really needs to be removed from the picture, and sets about making it happen. Watching his efforts leaves me wondering, just a little, how wise it is to let my cat share my pillow at night…
Thanks, Kathryn! Now…want to win a copy of THE INHERITANCE AND OTHER STORIES? Just say the word! You know the routine. Four entries possible: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, +1 for Tweeting or Retweeting the contest. Go for it!