The Inheritance: And Other Stories

The Inheritance: And Other Stories

by Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm

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“One of the most important writers in 21st-Century fantasy.”
Contra Costa Times

“Robin Hobb is one of our very best fantasy writers…always fresh, entertaining, and completely engrossing.”
New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson

The Inheritance & Other Stories is

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“One of the most important writers in 21st-Century fantasy.”
Contra Costa Times

“Robin Hobb is one of our very best fantasy writers…always fresh, entertaining, and completely engrossing.”
New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson

The Inheritance & Other Stories is a marvelous new collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling master storyteller Robin Hobb—including tales written under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm, by which the acclaimed fantasist first began her illustrious writing career. Included in this essential volume are Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated short masterworks, as well as brand new tales and the never before published in the U.S. title story—a unique compendium of wonders displaying the breathtaking skill, imagination, and remarkably varied styles of both alter egos.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This compelling collection includes contributions from two pseudonyms of Margaret Lindholm: bestseller Robin Hobb (Dragon Haven) and lesser-known but critically acclaimed Megan Lindholm. An introduction that explains how both pseudonyms came to be gives a fascinating glimpse into the author's mind. The title story's theme of deciding what to do with one's inheritance echoes throughout this poignant compilation. Lindholm's SF tale, "A Touch of Lavender," is a masterful mix of delicately crafted prose and subtle emotional stakes. The deceptively quiet "Cut" examines the violent choice one mother makes to protect her granddaughter from herself. Hobb's "Homecoming" describes in protracted detail the trials of the first settlers to the Rain Wilds. Lindholm's tales sometimes mask deeper themes or play with one significant moment, while Hobb's narrators are often naïve and her prose extravagant. Under any name, Margaret Lindholm's assured prose has an unerring ability to tug on the reader's heartstrings. (May)
“At once harrowing, unexpected, and morally complex. . . . I’m eager to see what happens next.”
Romance Reviews Today
“FOREST MAGE presents a darker and more complex hero in Nevare . . .Ms. Hobb has given a lot of thought to her world and characters. Dark as they are, they stand out like jewels on velvet.”
“[D]elicate, vivid language . . . [a] fine example of how to avoid a middle-book slump.”
“Fast action, deep emotional bonds and a great ending...[I] encourage you to check out Dragon Haven.”
“An engaging, entertaining introduction to both sides of the author’s work.”
Paul Goat Allen on THE INHERITANCE
“A priceless reading experience.”
Portland Book Review on THE INHERITANCE
“One author, two pseudonyms, and a wonderful collection of short stories…an exciting addition to the fantasy genre. Her stories are fresh and surprising as she weaves in subtle twists.”
Booklist (starred review) on THE INHERITANCE
“An engaging, entertaining introduction to both sides of the author’s work.”
Library Journal
This collection of seven short pieces written under the award-winning author's two pseudonyms highlights her progress from newcomer to veteran writer. In Lindholm's "A Touch of Lavender," a young boy relates the poignant tale of his life in a Seattle neighborhood shared with alien Skoags, whose touch induces druglike euphoria. Of the other Lindholm contributions, several are new tales, and others are older stories brought back into print. Three long tales by Hobb offer a further look at the world of Hobb's "Liveship Traders" trilogy ("Homecoming"; "The Inheritance") and the strange world of felines ("Cat Meat"). Taken as a whole, the two voices represented here provide a richly textured body of work from one of the genre's most accomplished writers. VERDICT Fans of both Lindholm (Harpy's Flight; Alien Earth) and Hobb ("The Tawny Man Trilogy"; "The Rain Wilds Chronicles") will appreciate the diversity of this one-woman showcase.
Kirkus Reviews

Author Margaret Lindholm Ogden, better known as Megan Lindholm and as Robin Hobb, contributes new and old work from both her pen names to a single anthology.

The stories by her earlier nom de plume, Lindholm, are all contemporary or near-future science fiction and fantasy, clearly set in our world or something a lot like it. The Hobb (Dragon Haven, 2010, etc.) stories are longer, set in the Realm of the Elderlings, the world where most of her bestselling fantasy epics take place. Lindholm/Hobb claims in her preface that while both pen names bear some core similarities, they explore different "issues." However, the stories then proceed to belie her assertion. All are beautifully written parables, expressing a clear message but managing not to be too offensively preachy about it. They speak of an intimate knowledge of living on the edge of poverty and desperation, confronting the threat of abuse, feeling pride in forging one's hard-won way in the world and making necessary sacrifices for both love and art. Of particular note are Lindholm's "A Touch of Lavender," about the relationship between a musical alien and a struggling family; "The Fifth Squashed Cat," which explores both the rewards and the painful costs of accepting a mundane over a magical existence; and Hobb's "Cat's Meat," in which a clever, ruthless cat (is there another kind?) helps a single mother defend her territory.

You don't have to be a fan of either of the author's identities to enjoy this collection—but you may become one.

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The Inheritance and Other Stories

By Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm

Harper Voyager

Copyright © 2011 Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061561641

Chapter One

A Touch of Lavender
The old question “Where do you get your story ideas from?” still has the
power to stump me. The easy, and truthful, answer is “Everywhere.” Any
writer will tell you that. An overheard conversation on the bus, a
newspaper headline read the wrong way, a simple “what if” question—any of
those things can be the germ that grows into a story.
But for me, at least, there is one other odd source. A stray first line.
I may be driving or mowing the lawn or trying to fall asleep at night,
and some odd sentence will suddenly intrude. I always recognize these
sentences for what they are: the first line of a story that I don’t yet know.
In the days before computers figured into writing, I would jot those
butterfly lines down on a piece of scrap paper and keep them in my
desk drawer, with other stray ideas. I knew they had to be captured
immediately or they would flutter off forever. The line “We grew up
like mice in a rotting sofa, my sister and I” came to me at a time when

I had just moved into a house that possessed just such an item of
furniture. It was a smelly old sofa, damp and featuring a green brocade
sort of upholstery. It came with the used-to-be-a-chicken-house house
that my husband and I purchased with my very first book advance
from Ace Books. My advance was $3,500 and the run-down house, on
almost four acres of choice swampland (oh, wait, we call those “wetlands”
nowadays and preserve them!) cost us the whopping sum of
$32,500. The payment of $325 a month represented a $50 saving over
what we had been paying in monthly rent! And we could keep chickens
for eggs. Such a deal!
From the attic, I could look up and see sky between the cedar
shingles that were the roof. A brooder full of chickens was parked in
the bathroom. (Buff Orpingtons for you chicken connoisseurs.) We
regarded those twenty-five half-fledged layers as a value-added feature
of the house, much better than a spare room. A spare room can’t lay
eggs! There were no interior doors in the house, and some of the
windows didn’t close all the way. We tore up the rotted carpet and lived
with bare ship-lap floors. There were no shelves in the noisy old refrigerator;
we cut plywood to fit and inserted it. The only heat came from
a woodstove. It was thus a mixed blessing that the yard was dominated
by an immense fallen cedar tree. My ax and I rendered it into
heat for the house for that first winter, one chop at a time.
A week after we bought it, at the end of March, Fred said good-bye
and went off to fish the Bering Sea, leaving me there with my faithful
portable Smith-Coronamatic, three children under ten years old, an
overweight pit bull, and a tough old cat. I would not see my husband
again until October. We were impossibly broke when he left, and I
knew that somehow I had to hold it together until after the end of
herring season when he would finally get paid. We borrowed money from
his sister to buy a can of paint because my daughter could not stand
the lavender walls left her by the previous tenant of her bedroom. The
bathroom chickens got older and began to lay eggs. It was mend-and-
make-do time. Smelly and mice infested or not, the couch and other
abandoned furnishings were what we had. I felt a bit bad for the mice
when I evicted them. They’d been cozy and safe there, despite the rundown
surroundings. Vacuumed, cleaned by hand, and with an old
bedspread tossed over it, the rotting sofa became the main seating in
the living room.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I suppose it occurred to me
that my children were now much like those mice had been. Tough as
things were, we now had a place to call our own. And, I hoped, my kids
had good folks who would see them through.
Did the lavender walls have anything to do with the story that
would be written, years later, and feature that opening line? Who
It’s all grist for the writing mill.
We grew up like mice nesting in a rotting sofa, my sister and
I. Even when I was only nine and she was an infant, I thought of
us that way. At night, when she’d be asleep in the curl of my belly
and I’d be half falling off the old sofa we used as a bed, I’d hear
the mice nibbling and moving inside the upholstery beneath us,
and sometimes the tiny squeakings of the newborn ones when the
mother came to nurse them. I’d curl tighter around Lisa and
pretend she was a little pink baby mouse instead of a little pink baby
girl, and that I was the father mouse, curled around her to protect
her. Sometimes it made the nights less chill.
I’d lived in the same basement apartment all my life. It was
always chill, even in summer. It was an awful place, dank and ratty,
but the upstairs apartments were worse, rank with urine and rot.
The building was an old town house, long ago converted to four
apartments upstairs and one in the basement. None of them were
great, but ours was the cheapest, because we had the furnace and
the water heater right next to us. When I was real small, three
or so, a water main beside the building broke, and water came
rising up in our apartment, maybe a foot deep. I woke up to my
stuff floating beside me, and the old couch sucking up water like
a sponge. I yelled for Mom. I heard the splash as she rolled out
of bed in the only bedroom and then her cussing as she waded
through the water to pick me up. Her current musician took the
whole thing as a big joke, until he saw his sax case floating. Then
he grabbed up his stuff and was out of there. I don’t remember
seeing him after that.
My mom and I spent that day sitting on the steps down to our
apartment, waiting for the city maintenance crew to fix the pipe,
waiting for the water to go down, and then waiting for our landlord.
He finally came and looked the place over and nodded, and said,
hell, it was probably for the best, he’d been meaning to put down
new tiles and spraysulate the walls anyway. “You go ahead and tear
out the old stuff,” he told my mom. “Stack it behind the house, and
I’ll have it hauled away. Let me know when you’re ready, and I’ll
send in a crew to fix the place up. Now about your rent . . .”
“I told you, I already mailed it,” Mom said coldly, looking past
his ear, and the landlord sighed and drove off.
So Mom and her friends peeled up the cracking linoleum and
tore the Sheetrock off the walls, leaving the bare concrete floor
with stripes of mastic showing and the two-by-four wall studs
standing bare against the gray block walls. That was as far as the
remodeling ever got. The landlord never hauled the stuff away, or
sent in a crew. He never spraysulated the walls, either. Even in the
summer the walls were cool and misty, and in winter it was like
the inside of a refrigerator.
My mom wasn’t so regular about paying the rent that she could
raise a fuss. Most of the folks in our building were like that: pay
when you can, and don’t stay home when you can’t, so the landlord
can’t nag at you. The apartments were lousy, but complaining
could get you kicked out. All the tenants knew that if the landlord
had wanted to, he could have gotten a government grant to convert
the place into Skoag units and really made a bundle. We were
right on the edge of a Skoag sector and demand for Skoag units
was increasing.
That was back when the Skoags were first arriving and there
wasn’t much housing for them. It all had to be agency approved,
too, to prevent any “interplanetary incidents.” Can’t have aliens
falling down the steps and breaking a flipper, even if they are
pariahs. These outcasts were the only link we had to their planet and
culture, and especially to their technology for space travel that
the whole world was so anxious to have. No one knew where they
came from or how they got to Earth. They just started wading out
of the seas one day, not all that different from a washed-up Cuban.
Just more wetback aliens, as the joke went. They were very open
about being exiles with no means of returning home. They arrived
gradually, in groups of three and four, but of the ships that brought
them there was never any sign, and the Skoags weren’t saying anything.
That didn’t stop any of the big government people from
hoping, though. Hoping that if we were real nice to them, they
might drop a hint or two about interstellar drives or something.
So the Skoags got the government-subsidized housing with showers
that worked and heat lamps and carpeted floors and spraysulated-
walls. The Federal Budget Control Bill said that funds could
be reapportioned, but the budget could not be increased, so folks
like my mom and I took a giant step downward in the housing
arena. But as a little kid, all I understood was that our place was
cold most of the time, and everyone in the neighborhood hated
It really bothered Mom. She wasn’t home that
much anyway. She’d bitch about it sometimes when she brought
a bunch of her friends home, to jam and smoke and eat. It was
always the same scene, party time, she’d come in with a bunch of
them, hyped on the music like she always was, stoned maybe, too.
They’d be carrying instruments and six-packs of beer, sometimes
a brown bag of cheap groceries, salami and cheese and crackers or
yogurt and rice cakes and tofu. They’d set the groceries and beer
out on the table and start doodling around with their instruments
while my mom would say stuff like, “Damn, look at this dump.
That damn landlord, he still hasn’t been around. Billy, didn’t the
landlord come by today? No? Shit, man, that jerk’s been promising
to fix this place for a year now. Damn.”
Everyone would tell her not to sweat it, hell, their places were
just as bad, all landlords were assholes anyway. Usually someone
would get onto the Skoag thing, how it was a fine thing the
government could take care of alien refugee trash but wouldn’t give its
own citizens a break on rent. If there’d been a lot of Skoags at the
café that night, Mom and her friends would get into how Skoags
thought they were such hot shit, synthesizing music from their
greasy hides. I remember one kid who really got worked up, telling
everyone that they’d come to Earth to steal our music. According
to him, the government knew it and didn’t care. He said there was
even a secret treaty that would give the Skoags free use of all
copyrighted music in the United States if they would give us blueprints
of their ships. No one paid much attention to him. Later that evening,
when he was really stoned, he came and sat on the floor by
my sofa and cried. He told me that he was a really great musician,
except that he couldn’t afford a good synthesizer to compose on,
while those damn Skoags could just puff out their skins and make
every sound anybody had ever heard. He leaned real close and told
me that the real danger was that the Skoags would make up all
the good music before he even got a chance to try. Which I knew
was dumb. While Skoags can play anything they’ve ever heard,
perfectly, no one had ever heard them play anything original. No
one had ever heard them play Skoag music, only ours. I started to
tell him that but he passed out on the floor by my sofa. Everyone
ignored him. They were into the food and the beer and the music.
All my mom’s parties were like that.
I’d usually curl up on one end of the sofa, face to the cushions
and try to sleep, sometimes with a couple necking at the other end
of the sofa and two or three musicians in the kitchen, endlessly
rehearsing the same few bars of a song I’d never heard before and
would never hear again. That’s what Mom was really into,
struggling musicians who were performing their own stuff in the little
“play for tips” places. She’d latch on to some guy and keep him with
her aid check. She’d watch over him like he was gold, go with him
every day, sit by him on the sidewalk while he played if he were a
street musician, or take a table near the band if he was working
cafés and clubs. They’d come home late and sleep late, and then
get up and go out again. Sometimes I’d come in from school and
find them sitting at the kitchen table, talking. It’s funny. The men
always looked the same, eyes like starved dogs, and it seems like
my mom would always be saying the same thing. “Don’t give up.
You’ve got a real talent. Someday you’ll make it, and you’ll look
back at them and laugh. You’ve really got it, Lennie (or Bobby or
Pete or Lance). I know it. I can feel it, I can hear it. You’re gonna
be big one day.”


Excerpted from The Inheritance and Other Stories by Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm Copyright © 2011 by Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm. Excerpted by permission of Harper Voyager. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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