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  • Paul Jameson

A Tale of Two Books; One Good, One Bad

This week I read two books. Sort of.

The first was the small and skinny 'The Embassy of Cambodia' by Zadie Smith and the second the humungous hard back from the library, 'Fool's Assassin' by Robin Hobb.

So I shall start with the good.

I've never read Zadie Smith before and now I'm glad I have. This is a really good little short story. The simple writing and narrative really does belie the cruelty of a modern world that is so often hidden behind the mask and respectability provided by wealth and culture; something we all walk by, often unknowingly, every day. I loved the fact that the simplicity of everday things pulled me and the story along. Very clever. A great little story to read and cleanse the palate between novels.

Loved it, four out of five stars for me!

And now for the bad.

My first ever read of Robin Hobb and I hate doing this, but I got to page 100 and had to give up.

However, having read some reviews of the book by fans of Robin Hobb I don't feel quite so bad. It seems many were disappointed even though they knew the history of the character and were fans of previous work. This, though, was my first book by Robin Hobb and I can honestly say I've never been so bored; to the point of wanting to cry at the thought of having to read it.

That said, I have a rule to read at least a hundred pages; just in case...

The writing was fine, pretty, flowery and it took me nowhere; descriptive to the point of describing the description and forgetting all about me and a story. And names (so many at once), and I felt nothing for any of them.

Especially when Hearth stood by the hearth; at that point I might have screamed...

In pain.

I am not yet writing off Robin Hobb as an author. I will seek out earlier work to try and find the excitement she instilled in fans of those works who were equally disappointed. We are all allowed an off-day and as a novel (for me) this was a serious off-day.

Just the one out of five stars for me (as sleepy as morphine may be more apt).

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