It’s about time for another Halfway Through Book Review where I give you my opinions with minimal chances of spoiling the ending. The follow-up should happen in the days to comes. That is if I deem the book worthy of finishing.
This time I’m tackling Robin Hobb‘s second book in her Rain Wilds Chronicles, Dragon Haven. I’ve mentioned before here that I’m somewhat of a fan of Hobb. She has written plenty of trilogies, and I own almost all of them. With that in mind, I still try to be objective in my reviews.
In this installment, we find the cast of characters right where we left them in the last book. A group of physically stunted dragons, along with their keepers, are heading up the toxic Rain Wild’s river to a city once renowned for its dragons and Elderlings. Because the dragons were deformed since hatching, they are unable to fly or provide for themselves.
The first book covered their hatching and trickery to get the townspeople to move them to a new location. I also recall the book ending right at the inciting moment, something that generally happens in the first chapter or two in most books. I’ve since come to find that the original book became so long, that it was split in two and published separately, this being the second part.
As I’ve said, this picks up right where it left off. And in the course of just half the book, little to nothing has happened. Only one big event happens just before the midway point. The rest is strictly character development.
Hobb’s style of fantasy writing has changed since I’ve first started reading her works. I’ve come to understand epic fantasy as action-packed and filled with extensive journeying. Hobb is breaking away from that. There is still action. And a journey is taking place, but the pacing compared to other epic fantasies I’ve been reading, can be mind-numbingly slow. I also find that she’s repeating herself repeatedly (see what I did there?). Although it might make sense that a particular subject or conversation would happen to multiple people, as a reader, it becomes boring. I kept finding myself saying, “I know this already. Keep it moving.”
That being said, this slower pace allows the characters to become more real and less stock. They act like people would act, even when we don’t want them to. The stupidity of some (one in particular) drives me completely mad, just like the stupidity I find in real life. Hobb draws out critical moments, creating a tension so taught that by the time it plays out, the outcome is overwhelmingly satisfying. None of these characters are stock. In most epic fantasies, you have the wizard, thief, elf, or some other common fantasy trope. Not here. Though there is magic, though there are dragons, and though there is intrigue and backstabbing, there is nothing– I repeat –nothing, common about this story.
So I’ll continue this tale to its end. When I finish, I’ll give you my final thoughts and whether or not it was worth completing. Till then, read something good. And share.