The Realm of the Elderlings is the universe in which the majority of Robin Hobb‘s work takes place. So far it is comprised of the following sub-series:
- The Farseer Trilogy
First trilogy about Fitz, a royal bastard who grows up at a court threatened from within and without.
- The Liveship Traders Trilogy
A trilogy about the traders of Bingtown, to the south of the Six Duchies.
- The Tawny Man Trilogy
Second trilogy about Fitz, taking place fifteen years after The Farseer Trilogy.
- The Rain Wild Chronicles
A quartet picking up loose ends from The Liveship Traders Trilogy.
- The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy
Third trilogy about Fitz, largely set another twenty years after The Tawny Man Trilogy.
The various trilogies and stories follow different characters and are written in somewhat different styles, and could be read independently of one another. The three trilogies about Fitz form one group, with the other two series being more loosely linked to one another. Nonetheless, all five series form different parts of a single overarching narrative and characters from one series will reappear in others to make cameos or as supporting characters; and the books thus make the best sense when read in the order above. Though no one character appears in every book, the central characters of the series might be said to be Heterosexual Life-Partners FitzChivalry Farseer, a royal bastard trained to be an assassin, and the enigmatic Fool, a mystic prophet with an ambiguous agenda.
Although plenty happens over the course of the series, compared to many fantasy series the books are primarily character-driven and focus to a great extent on the concerns, motivations, feelings and conflicts of their main characters, with a common theme being the conflict between characters’ own desires and their duties to their King or their people, their friends, or their families (or sometimes all three). Characters frequently change over the course of the books. Whilst the series does have definite heroes and villains, characters are rarely either entirely noble nor irredeemably evil and just as the villains have backstories that go some way to explaining their motivations, the heroes too are often motivated by violence and vengeance (or for the Greater Good) into doing things that aren’t strictly heroic. The series has plenty of dark moments, but nonetheless on the whole does lean towards the idealistic side of the scale.
Order of The Realm of the Elderlings books
Here’s the list of all Realm of the Elderlings books, in both chronological order and publication order: