Dragon Keeper: Volume One of the Rain Wilds Chronicles Mass Market Paperback – Sep 25 2012
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“In a novel as good as it is massive, the first of two Rain Wilds Chronicles...Hobb continues to occupy a perch at or near the top among contemporary fantasists. This book is imaginative, literate, and compassionate from first page to last.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Hobb does an admirable job of creating a complex and engaging medieval fantasy world …with originality and subtlety [she handles] such traditional fantasy elements as dragons and magical items…A nicely imagined fantasy setting that will engage readers and raise anticipation for the second installment. (Kirkus Reviews)
“Hobb’s meticulously realized fantasy tale is a welcome addition to contemporary dragon lore.” (Publishers Weekly)
From the Back Cover
Too much time has passed since the powerful dragon Tintaglia helped the people of the Trader cities stave off an invasion of their enemies. The Traders have forgotten their promises, weary of the labor and expense of tending earthbound dragons who were hatched weak and deformed. If neglected, the creatures will rampage—or die—so itis decreed that they must move farther upriver toward Kelsingra, the mythical homeland whose location is locked deep within the dragons’ uncertain ancestral memories.
Thymara, an unschooled forest girl, and Alise, wife of an unloving and wealthy Trader, are among the disparate group entrusted with escorting the dragons to their new home. And on an extraordinary odyssey with no promise of return, many lessons will be learned—as dragons and tenders alike experience hardships, betrayals...and joys beyond their wildest imaginings.See all Product Description
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The Farseer Trilogy (3 books) >> The Liveship Traders Trilogy (3 books) >> The Tawny Man Trilogy (3 books).
So on to the review, is the Dragon Keeper a good book? Well, at the risk of being harsh (something I loathe in a review) it's.....ok, but much less so than any of the above. It's hard to tell if the author overachieved earlier in her career or is underachieving now, but either way this return to her classic universe does not deliver the hoped for return to form.
Let's be clear, Dragon Keeper is not a bad book per say, but a sluggish pace, characters it's hard to identify with and a somewhat meandering story seriously undermine its positive aspects (the irritating, somewhat loathsome nature of the Dragons doesn't help much either).
The bottom line? If you enjoyed her earlier work then this will make for a few hours of reasonably entertaining reading, but unfortunately (and as much as I admire and respect the author) that's about all.
As always I was drawn into the story and characters quickly. The brief apperances of some of the characters we know and love really added to the tale. One thing is for sure, when the second installment is out, I will once again be ordering from across the seas. I am not sure when the next release date is but with the quality of Dragon Keeper I am sure there will be a lot more people anxiously awaiting its arrival.
But Robin Hobb examines a different idea: what if something hadn't gone quite right with the forming dragons? "Dragon Keeper: Volume One of the Rain Wilds" is a slow-moving, richly detailed book that builds on the past events of her last two trilogies, but introduces a rather different dilemma and radically different characters.
Five years ago, the dragon Tintaglia led a number of exhausted, half starved sea serpents to the Rain Wilds, and oversaw them going into their cocoons. But when they emerged, these new dragons were deformed and stunted in mind and body. Now Tintaglia has gone off with her new mate, leaving the hungry flightless dragons to be fed by the Rain Wilds people who are uncovering Cassarick -- and both dragons and humans are rapidly getting sick of this miserable arrangement.
So the dragons trick the humans into agreeing to take them to the ancient Elderling city of Kelsingra, along with several human keepers. Among those on the journey are the deformed locals including a girl named Thymara, and with an unhappily-married scholar named Alise. But can the strong personalities among the embittered dragons and their equally deformed keepers avoid clashes -- and who will make it up the river?
As dragoncentric books go, "Dragon Keeper" is pretty lacking in glamour. The dragons are stunted, petty, flea-bitten, muddy and fed on spoiled meat, and they live in a rainforesty region full of mud and acid rivers. Fun. The biggest problem is that "Dragon Keeper" goes SLOWLY -- it feels like somebody split one massive book in half, and that this is the first part before the plot really gets moving.Read more ›
One of the two main characters, Thymara, is very much an adolescent, which I feel is somewhat of a new area for Hobb. FitzChivalry, from the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies, passed through adolescence but it did not define him. Thymara is very much a confused teenager and though there is more to her, Dragon Keeper (and I assume Dragon Haven) is more of a coming-of-age story than Hobb's previous works. This has its good and bad points, but Thymara as an adolescent is, thankfully, a fairly compelling character.
Another facet of this novel and what I've read of the next are the homosexual relationships, which Hobb has toyed with in the past but never in this depth. I won't comment on whether I liked or disliked the addition, only that it's there.
A solid novel. Hobb remains one of my favorite fantasy authors.
Dragons have been brought back to the Rain Wilds, but not in the glorious form everyone had hoped. Malformed, stunted creatures emerged and suddenly everyone is twisted around trying to care for dragons that have little left to them beyond their pride. They're manipulative creatures but some of the monsters lie instead in the realm of humans.
If you're going to pick it up, make sure you read her earlier books first in order to really understand what's going on. And if you've already read them, then this is a great continuation of a rich, vibrant world of characters that are truly alive rather than characters pushed along through the pages. Hobb really knows how to write an amazing story, and I'd highly recommend this or any of her works!
Most recent customer reviews
Robin is such an excellent author - keeps you moving from page to page with anticipation for the next twist in the plot.Published 10 months ago by Carol Vaage
I would not recommend this series. At the beginning, I had high hopes. The setting is enchanting and the overarching plot intriguing. Read morePublished on Dec 16 2012 by Juandfr