Backlist Burndown Review: Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb
Series: Rain Wild Chronicles #2
Also by this author: Fool's Assassin
Published by Harper Voyager on September 25th 2012
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Also in this series: Dragon Keeper
Return to the world of the Liveships Traders and journey along the Rain Wild River in the second instalment of high adventure from the author of the internationally acclaimed Farseer trilogy. The dragon keepers and the fledgling dragons are forging a passage up the treacherous Rain Wild River. They are in search of the mythical Elderling city of Kelsingra, and are accompanied by the liveship Tarman, its captain, Leftrin, and a group of hunters who must search the forests for game with which to keep the dragons fed. With them are Alise, who has escaped her cold marriage to the cruel libertine Hest Finbok in order to continue her study of dragons, and Hest's amanuensis, Bingtown dandy, Sedric. Rivalries and romances are already threatening to disrupt the band of explorers: but external forces may prove to be even more dangerous. Chalcedean merchants are keen to lay hands on dragon blood and organs to turn them to medicines and profit. Their traitor has infiltrated the expedition and will stop at nothing to obtain the coveted body parts. And then there are the Rain Wilds themselves: mysterious, unstable and ever perilous, its mighty river running with acid, its jungle impenetrable and its waterways uncharted. Will the expedition reach their destination unscathed? Does the city of Kelsingra even exist? Only one thing is certain: the journey will leave none of the dragons nor their human companions unchanged by the experience.
For me, Hobb writes the most addictive stories. Dragon Haven is the second book in her Rain Wilds Chronicles that is part of the larger Realm of the Elderlings story. For those not familiar, I highly, highly recommend reading all of her series in order. I’ve mentioned in other reviews the reason for my strong opinion on this is that I did not read them in published order because I did not realize how they connected. So, because of my unconventional reading order, I actually read all of the Rain Wilds books after reading all of her other published books to this point.
I continue to be intrigued with the Rain Wilds, but I will confess If I was absolutely forced to rank all of the books, this is my least favorite of the series. And within this series, this particular book I think may be my least favorite. But, I still found it impossible to put down, and my least favorite book by one of my favorite authors is still a book worth reading.
There was actually a lot to love in this book. While you may have had an idea of why Rain Wilders are marked and the history of Elderlings, Hobb reveals so much more in this book, and much of it is likely not what you expect. Dragons and Elderlings are explored and explained in much clearer detail really giving the reader a much clearer view and understanding of this wonderful world Hobb has created.
I think my largest problem with this book was my frustration with the level of Alise’s naivety. Like, I seriously cringed at how clueless she was at times as to her husband Sedric’s preferences. Conversations where it was clear she was the only one not in the know and how gullible she was definitely irked me. I felt like her character was supposed to be so intelligent and insightful. This aspect of her personality just left me wanting to shake her so she could “wake up” and see what was so blatantly right in front of her. But the good news is, she does start to catch on, and in the end, I felt no cause to cringe. It was just painful getting there. I think some of this is also a testament to Hobb’s characters and the readers connection to them. For me to care that much about a character learning the truth, to the point where I physically cringe, can actually be a testament to how into the book I am (or maybe I am stretching to lighten the negative comment because really, this is another fantastic series, and all of Hobb’s books are worth reading.)
Another positive with this book was seeing the developing relationship between the young traders that left on the expedition in Dragon Keeper, and the dragon’s to which they were assigned. Really the entire community, set out on their own without the existing laws and expectations in place, was a great way to explore ideas and relationships.
Overall, I continue to stand by my recommendation that everyone should at least give Hobb’s books a try. The are the most emotionally engaging and addictive books within the fantasy genre to me, and with some great world building as well! Highly recommend, like all her other books.
I have challenged and committed myself to reading at least one book from my backlist every month and posting the review on the last Friday of the month. I invite anyone interested to join me and link up their own Backlist Burndown reviews. I will offer the link at the bottom of my monthly Backlist Burndown reviews, and also will keep a running record of the reviews on my Dracarys! Backlist Burndown page available from my top menu.