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Forest Mage [Hardcover]

Robin Hobb
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 17 2006 Soldier Son Trilogy (Book 2)

The prestigious King's Cavalla of Gernia has been ravaged by the Speck plague. The deadly disease has decimated the ranks of both cadets and instructors, and the few survivors remain weak and frail. Many have been forced to relinquish their military ambitions and will return to their families to face lives of dependency and disappointment.

As the academy infirmary empties, cadet Nevare Burvelle also prepares to journey home. But far from being a broken man, Nevare has made an astonishingly robust recovery from the Speck plague. Furthermore, while in the grip of the plague, he defeated his Speck nemesis, freeing himself, he believes, from the Speck magic that infected him. As he begins the journey to his ancestral home of Widevale, he is in high spirits, expecting a jubilant homecoming, a tender reunion with his beautiful fiancée, Carsina, and a bright future as a commissioned officer.

Yet back in the shelter of his family, Nevare finds his nights still haunted by visions of his Speck self betraying everything he holds dear in his waking life, and his days tormented by a rare side effect of the Speck plague that shames his family—and repulses Carsina. Though he expected to slip back into his family fold effortlessly, Nevare finds himself instead caught between the sensual, enchanting realm of the Specks and his own ancestry, the world he has always known.

And then the magic in Nevare's blood—magic that he thought he had destroyed—roars to life, and he realizes that his most dangerous enemy, an enemy that seeks to destroy all he loves, might dwell within him. . . .


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Product Description

From Booklist

Continuing adventures begun in Shaman's Crossing (2005), Nevare Burvelle comes home to find that the plague from which he was magically healed has stricken his homeland and family. (First-person narration heightens the impact of his guilt and horror.) He returns to the forest to find a cure in ancient magic that is extraordinarily demanding to employ and can wreak more havoc than healing. The forest is drawn in delicate, vivid language reminiscent of Hobb's treatment of the rivers and ocean in the Liveship Traders trilogy. A fine example of how to avoid middle-book slump. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Gripping.” (London Times)

“At once harrowing, unexpected, and morally complex . . . I’m eager to see what happens next.” (Locus)

“Refreshing. . . . There’s a truthfulness to her creation that is lacking in some of the more slapdash fantasies.” (Locus)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put It Down... Jan. 21 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Soldier Son trilogy is the first Robin Hobb I've ever read. My 20 year old son recommended it to me. Interesting how opinions can vary so wildly. Meticulous creation of a world,(not for those with short attention spans) well-developed character, and the plot stays away from cliche; you can never predict what is going to happen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Continuation Dec 8 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The dark stuff that poor Nevare is put into in the second book drives despair right down into you. Hobb's writing is always so polished and fresh that everything comes alive around you as you read on through. This book is not for the faint of heart in the very best of ways. It's an incredible continuation of a bizarrely unique story that I would recommend for someone looking for a novel that has eloquent writing, incredible characters, and deeper topics that toss aside the cliches. Amazing work.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not her best May 16 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Soldiers Son books are dissappointing. They are boring and bizarre. If you want to read Robin Hobb at her best, then try the Liveship Traders series.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  142 reviews
67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars AKA - Diary of a Depressed Fat Man April 12 2008
By G. R. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
I consider the `Assassins ` series one of the top ten fantasy series I've ever read, and I've read a lot. Therefore it was with keen interest that I picked up the `Forest Mage', especially after reading the first book `Shaman's Crossing'.

This book should have been titled `Diary of a Depressed Fat Man'. Yes, I like complex character development - it's one of the reasons why the Assassins series was so good, but give me a break! I stayed up till 2:30am finishing this book, not because it was so captivating but because I couldn't believe it wouldn't somehow get better and justify the time I wasted reading it.

Let me save you the time:

He gets fat.
Everyone hates him.
He discovers that he has magic but doesn't know how to use it.
He is still fat.
43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars strong three but slower, not as rich as book one Oct. 29 2006
By B. Capossere - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There were a lot of complaints that the first book in this series was overly slow or even boring. While I agreed that book one was slow and at times dry, I thought it rewarded the patient reader and that the pace was mostly appropriate for the content and character. The same complaints about book one could also be leveled at Forest Mage, and here, unfortunately, I can't quite defend the book as strongly.
Like the first book, there isn't a lot of "action" here. One expecting large battles, political upheaval or machinations, encounters with monsters, or showy displays of magic will be best served not bothering, though if anyone is picking up Forest Mage after reading Shaman's Crossing they're already aware of all this. Mage picks up with Nevare returning home after having "recovered" from the Speck plague of book one. Unfortunately, he is still seemingly in thrall to the Speck magic and his recovery takes the form of a gross gaining of weight as the magic "swells" him, forcing his exile from first the military academy, then his own family. The first third or so of the book deals with his worsening relations at home (things with his father turn particularly horrific), which only are resolved by a new wave of plague that frees Nevare to move on toward the frontier where he hopes some desparate unit would take him on. He ends up a cemetary soldier in the last town at the far working end of the King's Road. There, at the boundary area between his own culture and that of the Specks (whose mountain forest the road must carve its path through), he must solve the problem of the Speck magic that grows in him and either choose sides between the two cultures or find some way of bridging the two.
As in book one, the analogue between our own historic treatment of the Native Americans is strong. As is the way Hobb refuses to let her main character play the "hero" consistently (or even usually). Life on the frontier is painted in sharp detail, as is the allure of the Speck forest. The possible love interest for Nevare is a strong character who slowly grows on the reader--one of the major plusses of the book is how Hobb allows that relationship the time to develop realistically. Finally, the tension between major plot points and themes picks up greatly towards the end and leaves the reader wanting more.
There are several weaknesses to the book, however. As mentioned, it reads more slowly and more dryly than book one. Nevare's struggle against the magic becomes overly repetitive, as does his struggle between the two sides of himself. The same is true with regard to his battle with his father and the various negative interactions he has due to his great girth. The book easily could have lost 200 or so pages and the reader feels each one of those extra pages at various points. It simply doesn't compel in too many places as Soldier's Son did.
In the end, Mage is not quite as rewarding as book one; one is not quite as sure that the slow pace and dry spells were worth the pay off, though by the end I think the reader will tip over into believing so. It's a closer call than I would have liked, however. Those who liked the first book a lot, as I did, will find their way to the end with moderate difficulty. Those who struggled to finish book one, however, may just concede this one halfway through. I'd recommend they continue on, skimming if need be, for it does leave us pointing toward a third book that I at least am very interested to read based on what's gone on so far. Those who barely finished Soldier's Son might be best deciding after the first 75 pages or so of this one if they can take the slow pace and if not read a summary somewhere. Recommended, though with fair warning due to its slow, dry pace.
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nevare never does anything Jan. 10 2008
By KringKring - Published on Amazon.com
If you enjoy books about characters who have a million and one problems, but never seek out solutions for them, CONGRATULATIONS! Forest Mage just might be the book for you! Imagine a man who is slowly being overtaken by a controlling magic he does not want . Is being impinged upon by an unwanted personality who makes him do evilly evil things! Any other writer might make their main character fight their own fate. BUT NOT ROBIN HOBB! And we love her for it! And don't worry, even if Nevare seems to be making an attempt to turn his life around, take a deep breath and relax. Because he won't. He'll have sex with a Speck instead and then complain about it later.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal, unforgiving, unputdownable July 16 2006
By John Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I enjoy Robin Hobb's work, but I dont know if I can truly say I enjoyed reading Forest Mage. It turns everything we saw in Shaman's Crossing on its head, and indeed, Shaman's Crossing becomes simply a prologue to Nevare's ongoing story.

The book itself is relentless and challenging, and I suppose that serves to give us some idea of the life Nevare finds himself facing. At the end of Shaman's Crossing we thought Nevare had triumphed over multiple adversaries - and he had, but won those battles only to lose the war.

We meet new characters, and old friends return - almost all changed for better or worse, save Epiny, who is the strange combination of selfless and selfish she always was.

Lastly, the magic of Nevare's world is really a character all of its own in this book, in a way rarely seen in fantasy fiction.

Forest Mage is an enthralling story, but one that is truly in the mold of "The Empire Strikes Back" - only bad things happen, and the protagonist's world is in ruins at its end.

I look forward to the final Soldier's Son volume, and hope to truly enjoy reading it.
58 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, Dark, and Captivating Sept. 20 2006
By Lady Atana - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Other reviewers have stated repeatedly that this novel was depressing. That is true, but Robin Hobb has never been an author with a light-hearted, upbeat tone to her books. She does however always deliver characters with great depth and feeling. While reading the novel, you become totally immersed in its world and extemely hestiant to leave it, no matter how dark and depressing it is. As always, the characters seem to be real people. Living, breathing, people with their own itineraries. None are neither all good or all evil, but moved by complicated needs and desires that make them so real. I have just finished reading this novel about 30 minutes ago, and feel as if someone important to me has died or disappeared. That is how deeply Robin Hobb's characters affect me.

***Warning, small spoilers in this review. I usually try to avoid these, but with this novel, I don't how else to comment on it.***

While the first novel showed up the maturing of the boy, Nevare, this novel shows the making of the man.

In the first portion of novel, Nevare begins to be stripped of everything in his world. His physical fitness, his education, his love, and his family. Disaster after disaster befall him. Although he attempt to make the best of it, and grows into a man, taking charge and better the area around him, he stil loses everything dear to him.

In the second, and longest portion of the novel, Nevare is broken down to the lowest of the low... weak-spirited, reviled, almost friendless, and constantly attempting conform to his destiny as decided on by his father. Even after his father has renounced him, he stuggles to gain his place in this society that he was "born" to have.

Nevare however is meant for other destinies, no matter how he may try to revolt against them. Over and over his defies this new destiny, only to destroy his current life, and everything around him. Guides and mentors are given to him by his destiny, simultaneously giving him insight and providing him an antagonist to fight against. Temptations are thrown at him from both sides. Nevare is cursed to be torn between two world, able to see the good and evil in both, and unable to give himself completely to either one.

The end of the novel is heartbreaking. Nevare is finally able to commit to one side, but the reader's heart aches for him and his fate.

***End of slight spoilers***

I eagerly await the final novel in the trilogy, hoping against hope, that Nevare is redeemed and is rewarded with all he desires (Just like I did with the Farseer trilogy). Unfortunately, I realize that Robin Hobb's trilogies do not usually end that way, and I doubt that the Solder's Son trilogy will be any different. As soon as the third novel is available for pre-order, I will buy it and check constantly on it status, much like I did for this novel.
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