4 out of 5
Despite not reading any of Robin Hobb’s Farseer novels, I was able to enjoy this short novel set in the Six Duchies. The premiss of the story is that the history passed down about the events that take place in the book has been changed to look favorably upon the victor’s. The narrator, a servant heavily involved in the plot, has been charged with writing down what really happened and hiding it in a place where it will be found someday thereby insuring that the true story reaches future generations. This is a simple tale of indiscretion and lies and their effect on three generations of royalty. A tragedy from beginning to end, no one comes out a winner. Unfortunately it is difficult to develop any type of connection with the characters outside of the narrator as the story is told in the first person. None of the main characters comes across as very likeable making it difficult to care about what happens to them. There is no dialogue to help the reader connect. On the positive side it is an interesting look at the halls of power and how history is written to benefit those in power. The narrator’s experiences with her mother show a different side to service, of the desperation of holding on to one’s position and always planning for the next position. It is enjoyable to watch the narrator grow out from under her mother’s wing and develop into a better person.
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.
5 out of 5
When we last entered Robin Hobb’s wonderful Rain Wilds the dragon keepers and their charges had found the lost city of Kelsingra and this is where City of Dragons begins. The motley group of adventurers have settled in across the river from the city. The river is a major obstacle to visiting the city which they consider to be dead. Yet major surprises are in store for those willing to open themselves up to the city and it’s ghosts. Captain Leftrin has taken his liveship back to the Rain Wilds to collect what they are owed and bring back supplies, all while trying to keep the location of their find a secret. Several characters that were missing from the second novel are brought back. Hest is once more a major character as are the Elderings Reyn, Malta and Malta’s brother. As the fledgling dragons begin their attempts at flying, the original dragons, Tintaglia and Icefyre attempt to survive in the warmer south. While the Duke of Chaledon is using unthinkable methods to heal himself. By the end of the novel all paths are leading to major confrontations at Kelsingra.
The second novel had put me off a little bit, both character and story development were slow moving much like the river itself. This novel seems to move at a quicker pace with the addition of so many more storylines. It is wonderful to watch as Thymara and her dragon Sinatra come into their own as elderling and dragon. Despite being portrayed as sympathetic characters, Alise and Leftrin, are in for major confrontations with the dragon keepers as they make the adjustments to their roles as elderlings. This novel is such an excellent set up to the final novel, Blood of Dragons, that I am anxious for its release April 9, 2013.
4 out of 5
This is the second book in the Rain Wilds Chronicles and continues where Dragon Keeper left off. The series must be read in order. The motley crew of dragons, keepers, hunters and barge crew members are still heading up the Rain Wilds in search of the dragons elusive home. Several of the subplots are resolved with a number of secrets revealed. Characters, including the dragons, grow in ways the reader doesn’t expect. I really enjoy Hobb’s ability to create well rounded characters. No one is perfectly good. Those that are bad are not so much evil as selfish. While in the first book the dragons were slowly getting stronger, here their development takes off in leaps and bounds as does the development of the keepers. The trip is a story of growth through adversity. At first the little notes at the beginning of the chapters between two pigeon keepers seems a little gimmicky but it becomes an excellent way for the reader to learn what is going on in the world outside of the Rain Wilds. The ending is fulfilling while still leaving enough material for more in the series.
4 out of 5
The first book in The Rain Wild Chronicles brings us back to the world Robin Hobb first created in her Liveship Traders series. This time the reader is in for a completely different adventure. The traders have found out that the wood they have been using for their liveships actually comes from dragon cocoons. They have learned of the life cycle of dragons and managed to find a grouping of sea serpents that should cocoon and develop into dragons only the results are not spectacular. An odd collection of characters are rounded up to take the dragons back up the river in an attempt to find the original home of the dragons and the humans who lived with them. The story focus’s on Letrin, the captain of a live barge, Alise, the wealthy but unhappy dragon scholar, and Thymara, a rain forest child with physical attributes that should have resulted in her being left for dead as a child. Each of the actual dragon keepers, like Thymara, have such disabilities or are shunned for other reasons. Other members of the group are hunters or crew members. The story is told from various view points which works well for this type of group adventure. The reader needs to see events from all sides to understand what is happening. An important theme is the treatment of women. Alise, as a trader’s daughter signs a legal marriage document that sets out exactly what is expected of each partner. This contract ensures her certain rights and responsibilities. Thymara, on the other hand, is not allowed marriage or sex on the chance she may give birth to a child as deformed as she is. This becomes part of the story line as the group gets farther and farther from society. The book is well written and the characters develop naturally. The only problem I had was there are parts where it tends to drag a little but pushing through those parts is well worth it.