3 out of 5
Before reading any further please be warned that there are spoilers in this review.
Blood of Dragons is the final volume in the Rain Wilds Chronicles by Robin Hobb. The story continues the adventures of the dragon keepers, their dragons and the people attempting to help them. Tintaglia is injured and forced to make her way back to the Rain Wilds. At the same time Kelsingra is slowly being discovered by the dragon keepers much to the delight of their dragons and this brings many changes to the little group. Leftrin returns to Kelsingra with some welcome and unwelcome guests. The city itself has provided the dragons with much of what they need to become bigger and stronger. Only one thing is missing, silver, a substance that is part of dragon’s blood and that they and their keepers need to reach their full potential. Selden is still held captive by the Duke of Chalced and being drained of his blood while being nursed by Chassim. Slowly all of the story lines are being pulled together.
Unfortunately there are problems with the way everything is tied up. First there is the dragon attack on Chalced. Starting out strong with the image of the dragons, beautiful in their anger, dragon riders perch on their backs spewing venom on the city below it reaches the climax of rescuing Selden and Chassim only to end. Suddenly the reader is getting a second hand account of the battle and the end of the Duke. It was a let down. After all of the build up of the dragon’s fury and the emphasis on their attacking only the castle and the Duke the reader is not given the satisfaction of the final confrontation. I was looking forward to the Duke coming face to face with a real, large, angry dragon. Second was the end of Hest. His attempts at winning the now completely independent Alise back rebuffed, it was fun to watch Davvie teach him a thing or two about Elderlings. While enjoying his attempts to control a dragon it was hard to find it believable that someone in his position goes missing and it is barely noticed. It is mentioned that everyone thinks he ran away into the wilderness, but really Hest in the wilderness? No one makes the connection to the dragons.
The best parts of the story concern the city itself. The most important mystery being just what is silver, the substance every dragon and dragon keeper dreams of. Memories of it slip and slid through the dragons and their keepers, no one has a complete memory of what it is and why it is important. The discovery of the well and Thymara’s courageous climb down into it are among the highlights of the book. It is wonderful to finally see her coming into her own as a woman and as an Elderling. Unlike Rapskal she is able to hold on to her own being while using the memory stones to enhance who she is. Rapskal’s use of the memory stones leads to a complete change in who he is. At first this seems a tragedy until his explanation to the riders heading to war, that his memories are a continuation of many Elderling lives, much like the dragon memories. Yes he is changed and Thymara does not like what he has changed into but the author has left open the question of is this what they are supposed to become.
In the end I felt a little cheated but it is still a very enjoyable read.