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The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
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Book Name: Dragon Keeper
Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher(s): Harper Voyager
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book / eBook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: January 26, 2010

Exhausted and malnourished, a tangle of serpents fought the current of the Rain Wilds river and sought the cocooning grounds of distant memories. The world changed a great deal since a serpent needed to make this journey. Traveling was difficult and many serpents were lost, even more were not expected to survive. The dead became little more than additional memories and nourishment for those strong enough to continue.

When the journey was complete, the exhausted serpents wrapped themselves in a mixture of acidic river water, saliva, and toxins, to form their cases. After too little time in their cases, it was time for the creatures to emerge. Many Rain Wilders gathered to witness the event, including Thymara, a heavily marked Rain Wilder that was seen as an abomination since birth.

When the dragons emerged from their cases, concern washed over the onlookers. The great creatures were disfigured and clumsy. Too little time in their cases, too little food, and too much time in the sea as serpents had been too much for the dragons to overcome.

For years the deformed dragons relied on Rain Wilders to hunt and care for them. Living in the muddy banks of the river, sleeping in their own waste, had broken the spirits of the dragons. Game was reduced to nothing as a result of over-hunting to feed the hungry beasts. The dragons were quickly becoming a burden on the already struggling community.

A distant memory of a great Elderling city came to the dragons as a dream. Compelled to die as dragons, not as filthy lizards, the creatures hatched a plan to travel up the river to an old city known as Kelsigra. To make the trek, each dragon would require a keeper to feed and care for them throughout the long, hard, journey.

Robin Hobb - Dragon Keeper - 1
Much like Robin Hobb’s previous work, the characters and their growth in Dragon Keeper are an absolute pleasure to read. With each turn of the page I was presented with more insight into the inner workings of all involved in the tale of the Rain Wilds Chronicles.

While the story flows rather well, Hobb becomes rather long-winded at times. A character may be in the middle of a scene when something triggers a memory. That memory is then explained for pages upon pages. While not a problem in and of itself, there are times when it feels as though this bogs the story down rather than propels it forward. This eye for detail goes a long way in filling in the back-story of a given character, but more than once told us little more than what we already know from previous chapters.

The flow of the story is interesting but appears to be more about laying the groundwork for another tale rather than identifying a large-scale problem and seeking out the solution. We know that the dragons wish to leave their current prison of muck and travel to a great Elderling city of the past, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation of what will happen if, and or when, they arrive at their final destination.

If you have read the Liveship Traders trilogy (Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, and Ship of Destiny) you will recognize some familiar faces. There is Althea, Brashen, and The Paragon making a cameo appearance, of sorts. Malta and Seldon play a more significant role but do not take up much room in the overall story.

While the Rain Wilds Chronicle stands on its own, reading it before any of the other books set in this world (Farseer trilogy, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man), will bring forth some spoilers. My suggestion would be to read this book after you have read the others, unless of course you do not mind a bit of storyline being told out of order, in the grand scheme of things.

Don’t want to read the review…? Then watch the video below!
 

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7 Comments

  1. Avatar Overlord says:

    Absolutely Awesome Review – loved the video… shame about the buzzing but next time it’ll be perfect I am sure 😉

    • Avatar Walt says:

      Marc,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the video. It seems as though I have the problem corrected and it was just some dirt in the connection. If I hadn’t of talked for 19 minutes and felt my throat getting scratchy, I would have re-recorded the review.

      Next time I’ll play it safe and check the audio/video before getting started.

  2. Interesting review, thanks. I’ve enjoyed most of Hobb’s work very much indeed. I’ve been less keen when the stories wander down to the Rain Wilds corner of the map, but this one may well be worth a look.

  3. Avatar Gothic Panda says:

    Nice review. I’ve only read one book by Robin Hobb–The Assassin’s Apprentice, but this does encourage me to dig up some of his other books to read, including this one.

    • Avatar Walt says:

      I’m glad you liked the review. Assassin’s Apprentice was the novel that kicked off my Robin Hobb reading spree. I the only series I haven’t read is Soldier’s Son, but it is on my list (I was able to get 2 of the 3 books in trade).

  4. […] like Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven is driven by its characters. The direction of the story is rather simple, move […]

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