Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
Read Sept 2 – Sept 29, 2018
Rain Wild Chronicles, Book 1
Realm of the Elderlings, Book 10
I buddy-read this book with Zezee! This is what feels like our millionth Robin Hobb buddy-read, and it was just as enjoyable as all it’s predecessors. 😀
I think that I would have enjoyed this book more if the previous Hobb books in the Realm of the Elderlings series weren’t The Tawny Man trilogy. I say this because to me, Tawny Man is her best works so far. I loved that series. So coming down off that and going into this one, I think my expectations were a bit too high, or I was still not over the previous one.
Overall, I did rather like this book. It was very enjoyable, and I feel like it’s a strong set-up to what could be a really, really good quartet. But, with my mindset still partially on The Fool and Fitz, my heart was still a bit distracted, so I feel like I couldn’t give as much affection to this one because Fitz and The Fool weren’t in it.
The characters that were in it though, were nice and gray and complicated, just how Hobb loves to write and them and I love to read them. Each one within the first book developed distinct personalities and motivations. Some of them I very much like, others I started with disliking and ended up liking and some I started with liking and ended up disliking.
Alise. Probably my favorite character in the series at this point. In the beginning of the book, she enters into a marriage contract with Hest, a prominent trader in Bingtown, which would allow her to pursue her study of dragons in earnest. Alise starts as a character that has never really been the center of attention but by the end of the novel, becomes more confident in herself and her skills and what attention she does receive from the other characters, she revels in. There’s a gray area with her in this though, but saying what it is would be a spoiler, I think. Overall, her character growth in this first book was good to read, and while she is my favorite character, she’s toying a very fine line in morals. It’ll be interesting to see which way she ultimately slides.
Hest. Easily my most hated character. Alise’s husband, he’s a bit of a jerk. I think his character arc was the most easily predictable for me. I was able to guess ahead of time why he acts the way he was acting, and to have to play out almost exactly as I predicted kinda let out some of the steam I had had going for this book. There was only a small detail about it that I had not predicted, but man, that detail is coloring other characters more complicated and makes interactions between others more hypocritical. AUGH I LOVE IT. I don’t like Hest, but as far as his part to play in the story, his actions are going to cause a lot of waves, man.
Sedric. This is the character I started with liking and ended up disliking. In the beginning, I saw him more as a pure and innocent and overall good influence in Alise’s life. But as the story progressed and we got to read from his point of view, we get to see that all is not well in Oz. He’s gray man, his moral compass is all over the place. He’s righteous in some areas and a hypocrite in others. He’s a very interesting one to read from for sure. I feel like his character arc has a lot of room for growth. I hope he becomes even more complicated.
Leftrin. This is the one that I started with disliking and ended up liking. Leftrin original struck me as a sly, manipulative individual, with his actions in the beginning of the book. And he might still be and is just good at hiding it, but seeing him interact with Alise and others, he’s warmed to me. He seems like he genuinely wants to be better, despite wanting to gain a profit along the way. I feel like this character is another one that could surprise me with his growth.
Thymara. I know this character got a lot of screen time, but she is one I’m still the least connected to. I like her overall, but I feel like I haven’t really gotten to read deep enough into her yet. I know her motivations, and I know her personality, but nothing has really struck me about her character yet, if that makes sense. I hope in the next book that she gets more POV time so I can read more from her and hopefully grow to like her as much as I like Alise.
Plot-wise, this book was rather slow. The reading wasn’t slow, I blew through it, but the speed at which things were happening was slow. This book, about half way through it, Zezee and I realized was just set up for the next books. Not saying that it was bad, but nothing really happened until towards the end of the book.
Most of the book was taken up by world-building and character development, both of which were really neat. I feel like Robin Hobb’s ability to build her world in the book with so much depth and distinction without it feeling like an info-dump is one of her best talents. At no point did I feel overwhelmed with trivia, nor did I get bored reading. Everything flowed really nicely and I found myself being able to open the book and read 100 or 200 pages in a single sitting. Her writing was compelling even though, as I said, I felt like nothing super major happened plot-wise. I think it was the anticipation of the next book that kept me going – with everything that was built up in this book, the next book sounds like it’s going to be even more wonderful.
So overall – I liked this book. The character development was good, the world-building was good. I just was hoping for a bit more plot, I guess. Plus, Fitz and the Fool – I want them back, man. MY HEART, IT YEARNS.