Saturday, 23 September 2006

Book Review: Forest Mage (Robin Hobb)

You know it's a weekend when I write book reviews. though I haven't done that for ages. Oh well, lalala.

Anyway, just finished Robin Hobb's Forest Mage. Mixed feelings about it. Read on...

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Title: Forest Mage (Book 2 of the Soldier Son trilogy)
Author: Robin Hobb

Synopsis:

SPOILERS IN SYNOPSIS
DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ SHAMAN'S CROSSING



The prestigious King's Cavalla of Gernia has been ravaged by the Speck plague. The deadly disease has decimated the ranks of both cadets and instructors, and the few survivors remain weak and frail. Many have been forced to relinquish their military ambitions and will return to their families to face lives of dependency and disappointment.

As the academy infirmary empties, cadet Nevare Burvelle also prepares to journey home. But far from being a broken man, Nevare has made an astonishingly robust recovery from the Speck plague. Yet back in the shelter of his family, Nevare finds his nights still haunted by visions of his Speck self betraying everything he holds dear in his waking life, and his days tormented by a rare side effect of the Speck plague. He also finds himself caught between the sensual, enchanting realm of the Specks and his own ancestry, the world he has always known.




What I Liked:
  • Much darker than the first.
  • I still like the way she unfolds the story bit by bit, letting you see more and more of the story with each page
  • The overall story is beginning to make a lot more sense now
  • Introduces a whole new element to the story
  • Makes you think about the way us 'civilised people' keep trying to convert indegenious people to our 'better ways'
  • The way it ends, the third book is going to be VERY interesting

What I Didn't Like:
  • Much more depressing than the first as well.
  • Hobb sometimes tends to over-describe things... very frustrating when you just wanna know what happens next
  • I still don't feel the same affinity I had for Nevare the same way I did for FitzChivalry
  • Does she REALLY need to make her characters suffer so much all the time?

Summary:

Somehow, I'm just not feeling as pumped up about the Soldier Son trilogy as I was about the Liveship Traders or the Tawny Man saga. I'm still wondering whether or not I like this series.

Dont' get me wrong, as far as fantasy series' go, this is still way better than some of the garbage out there. And Hobb's writing is still as engaging as ever.

However, as much as I like the way she writes, the story for this one is just not grabbing me as well as the first three series' did. Maybe it's because the lead character, Nevare is just no Fitz; maybe the story just isn't as deep or as complex as the others. Maybe I should just stop comparing this with the other books. Maybe I can enjoy it better that way.

Anyway, I said before that Hobb's books usually DO take their time to get into the real gist of the story. It's happening in this book as well, with the first book being an extended prolugue more than anything, and this second one merely bridging the gap between the first's somewhat shallow-seeming 'introduction period, and the third's hopefully more substantial handling of the overall plot. If the ending here is anything to go by, I'm hoping that the third book wil redeem the series.

It probably won't elevate it to FitzChivalry standards, but heck, it's still better than that Wheel of Time shit....

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