Robin Hobb, Blood of Dragons (Harper, 2012)
Full disclosure: this book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.
For the first time, Robin Hobb has extended past the trilogy and given us a quartet. I admit, I was a little apprehensive—especially given the brevity of the third novel in the series (really, she could have easily combined the two)—but she pulled through, and Blood of Dragons, while not packing as much of a punch as concluding-trilogy volumes like Ship of Destiny or Fool’s Fate, brings the Rain Wilds Chronicles to a satisfying conclusion.
NOTE: the plot summary below necessarily contains spoilers for previous books in the series.
Plot: The dragons, and some of the keepers, have finally made their way to Kelsingra—at least, those who can fly. The rest remain in the makeshift village across the miles-wide river until they can fly. But it’s not just the dragons and their keepers, of course; some of the ship’s crew are still there, though most are on a supply run back to the jungle. (That’s a weird sentence, no matter how you present it.) Alise is still there, though after an offscreen confrontation with Rapskal—we only hear about it in retrospect—she has decided, or been forced, to rethink her position within the expedition. Still, despite all the Kelsingra drama, everything seems to be going along swimmingly—except that the Duke of Chalced, still desperate for dragon parts he believes can extend his life, is sending ever-greater numbers of mercenaries into the Rain Wilds—including the guy who’s been working with Hest, Alise’s husband (and who was previously working with Sedric), and who has decided that since Sedric has disappeared without a trace, Hest needs to head into the rain wilds himself to recover some dragon bits. We all know where that plot line is going, yes? But at the same time, a third thread emerges: Tintaglia, one of the major players in the Tawny Man trilogy, but whom we haven’t seen here since the first book, is gravely injured after a battle with some of those same Chalcedean mercenaries. Unable to find Selden, her singer (whom, you will remember, was captured by Chalcedeans in the first book, and his journey through Chalced, and through various hands, has been a tangential plotline throughout), Tintaglia heads for the Rain Wilds as well, looking for healing—which she, and the other dragons, believe can be found in Kelsingra, but the racial memories of neither the dragons nor the Elderlings offer any clues as to how or where—so the keepers must discover it on their own…
If you’re already invested in the series, you don’t need me to tell you you want to read this book. If you’re not yet, and you’ve read the other series leading up to it (which is everything except the Soldier Son trilogy—and I persist in my belief that the Soldier Son universe is just on the other side of the mountains at the western edge of the Mountain Kingdom), then what are you waiting for? If you’re new to Robin Hobb, welcome aboard—but you’re at the wrong end of things. Go pick yourself up a copy of Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book in the Farseer Trilogy, and work your way up (Farseer, Liveship, Tawny Main, Rain Wilds Chronicles). You’ll be glad you did. ****