Review: The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince / Author: Robin Hobb / Publisher: Harper Voyager / Release Date: Out Now
Novellas can be tricky things; not quite as snappy as a short story, not long enough to tell the sort of in-depth and detailed tale you get in a novel. The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince is a novella set in Robin Hobb’s Farseer series. Specifically, it's one tale split into two parts which provide backstory and insight into Hobb’s rich world. This is the tale of Felicity, a handmaiden to Princess Caution. She is witness to an incredible scandal, one that could have dire consequences not only for the realm, but also for the future of everything.
The tale is deeply rooted in the Realm of Elderlings series, detailing the origins of the prejudice that makes up much of the conflict within the core books. Fans of the novels won’t be that surprised here; this is very much a fleshing out of stuff that readers already know or have already surmised. Hobb’s key style is to generate a narrative in which you build an empathy for the main characters. Because this is a novella, this means that there is less time to develop an understanding of what’s going through Felicity’s head, and just as you’re getting into it, the pace changes and the story almost starts again. Despite these flaws, Hobb’s writing never fails to delight throughout, and though the work is simply too short, it is a treat.
This is not a book for those who don’t know who Robin Hobb is. Those who love her work should consider adding it to their Christmas wish list.