Dragon Keeper is Robin Hobb's eleventh book set in the Realms of the Elderlings, and the first in a new story arc set immediately after the events in...moreDragon Keeper is Robin Hobb's eleventh book set in the Realms of the Elderlings, and the first in a new story arc set immediately after the events in her Liveship Traders trilogy, but focusing on new characters.
After hundreds of years, the last serpents have finally made their migration up the rainwilds river, and with the help of the rainwilders, and the dragon tintaglia, they make their cocoons for the winter. But the new dragons that hatch out in summer are deformed, slow-witted, and unable to fend for themselves. The rainwilders are unwilling to continue to care for the dragons, and the dragons themselves yearn after ancestral memories of an old elderling city. So a mutual decision is soon reached that the dragons should be escorted upriver in search of the city, Kelsingra.
The novel mainly follows the three main characters, Thymara, Alise and Leftrin.
Thymara is a rainwilder who was born deformed, with scales and claws, (and would have been abandoned at birth if not for her father). Thymara feels a great kinship for the dragons, and is one of the few with an innate ability to understand their speech.
Alise, is the plain and studious daughter of a Bingtown Trader, pushed into marriage for the sake of financial security, by her somewhat unaffectionate parents. Her only love in life is the study of dragons and elderlings, and her great desire is to study the newly hatched dragons in person.
Leftrin, is captain of a liveship, a barge named Tarman. Who is the only ship cabable of pushing further up the shallow acidic rainwilds river.
The novel is interspersed by a series of communications between the birdkeepers (postal service) at Bingtown and Trehaug, which tells a cute little story but nothing momentous, but sort of serves to mark out the passage of time, as the novel passes through several years of time jumping to major events in each main character's time.
The liveship traders is my favourite of Robin Hobb's series, so I loved returning to the same world to hear the continuation of the dragons' story. And I am so eager for more details on the elderlings. But Robin Hobb is so determined to keep them mysterious, we recieve a few tantalising glimpses through Alise's study's and the dragon's remembrances, but nothing wholy new. Robin Hobb is such a tease, I guess I'm just going to have to keep reading the series to find out more.
I did love all the new characters. Thymara especially is fascinating, because she has so much in common with the new dragons because of her deformities, but I'm not sure she even sees things that way yet. She's born into such a harsh society that outcasts their deformed children, and kills the worst of them at birth. And yet she's so young and naive at first, she hasn't properly questioned this regime yet. I enjoyed seeing her conceptions of things change slightly as she talks with the older rain wilds outcasts.
Apart from the elderlings, I'm also curious about Leftrin's liveship Tarman, as he seems different to all other liveships, not just that he's a barge, but he doesn't seem to have a figurehead, just painted eyes on the front of the ship. And I'm so curious as to whether he will still prove to be alive and sentinent in the manner of the other live ships.
There was also a little 'cameo' appearance of my favourites from the liveship series, Althea and Brashen Trell, and their liveship Paragon, which I won't spoil by relating, but it was so good to see them again, like old friends!
I thought the novel progressed a little slowly, and I'm a little bit frustrated by it. but then I have a history of being frustrated with Robin Hobb's novels, no matter how much I love them. Often feeling like I'm struggling to pull more detail out of the story than Hobb is willing to write into it. But I did really like it, and I'm glad I've got the next one ready to read soon. I think this will prove to be another great series.(less)
Lady Alexia Maccon is reduced to moving back in with her family. And it's all Lord Maccon's fault. It...more**warning: contains spoilers for books 1 and 2**
Lady Alexia Maccon is reduced to moving back in with her family. And it's all Lord Maccon's fault. It being common knowledge that Supernaturals cannot sire children. Her being increasingly *ahem* delicate (view spoiler)[- pregnant - (hide spoiler)]. And him of course being an emotionally turbulent werewolf, prone to jumping to conclusions in anger.
Poor Alexia, alienated from her husband, being the scandalous talk of the town, ousted from the shadow council by Queen Victoria, and suffering from morning sickness. Has no one to turn to, and no one to explain how she possibly got into this impossible situation, seeing as her friend Lord Akeldama has upped and left town. So of course the only choice, is to take a trip to Italy and get answers from the Templars. Taking the lovely, genius, inventor Madame Lefoux and the faithful Floote the butler with her.
I hope you paid attention to the spoiler warnings if you haven't yet read the first two books, as its completely impossible to write a summary without mentioning the improbable possibility of Alexia's supernatural pregnancy. (I'd like you to try saying that 10 times really fast).
Firstly I have to admit, I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the last two. Mostly owing to the fact that Alexia and Lord Maccon are separated for the entire novel, and its their interactions that put the tasty topping on the book in my opinion.
Even though, Lord Maccon on his own is still entertaining, it's a dilemma not knowing whether to cry for him or laugh when he drown his sorrows in Professor Lyall's formaldehyde, poor guy, but he is to blame of course. And if he happens to lose Alexia to Madame Lefoux, it will be entirely his fault and I wouldn't blame Alexia in the least.
But Lord Maccon is nothing without Alexia, and once he gets that into his big hairy head, he may have a chance at being forgiven. I might forgive him I mean. Not telling if Alexia will. After all, she's got Pesto to keep her happy now. Pesto AND Madame Lefoux. Sometimes I really wish I were in Alexia's shoes.
I still think Miss Carriger is being a bit skimpy with the answers in this series. Even when the plot of the book resolves itself, too many things are still left mysterious. Yes I'm sure thats part of the pulling power of the series, but how long can one writer hold off for? I look forward to book 4 as soon as I can get hold of a copy!
See my other reviews of the Parasol Protectorate series: ← #2 Changeless | #4 (To-Read!)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)