Saturday, 15 September 2007

Book Review: Renegade's Magic (Robin Hobb)

I'd finished this book last week, but due to certain circumstances (a bout with early bronchitis earlier in the week, for instance), I've only been able to get around to posting the book review today...

This morning I'd done a full post about another subject, but since I think I'll leave that for Monday...

Anyway, if you’ve not read the first two books of the Soldier Son trilogy, and are planning to do so; I suggest you go read some other blog and avoid this post altogether, as it is almost impossible for me to discuss the book without divulging even the most minor of spoilers.

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Title: Renagade's Magic (Book 3 of the Soldier Son trilogy)
Author: Robin Hobb



Synopsis (From Amazon.co.uk):

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

The people of Getty's town remember the death of their cemetery soldier vividly. They remember believing him guilty of unspeakable crimes, condemning him, and then watching as other men of his unit beat him until he no longer drew breath.

But Nevare Burvelle didn't die that day, though everyone believes they saw it happen. He was cornered by a power far more intractable than an angry mob.

When he was a boy, the magic of the Specks - the dapple-skinned tribes of the frontier forests - claimed Nevare Burvelle as a saviour; severing his soul in two, naming his stolen half Soldier's Boy and shaping him into a weapon to halt the Gernian expansion into their lands and save their beloved ancestor trees.

Until now Nevare has defied the magic, unable to accept his traitorous fate. But the magic has won: it has extinguished his once golden future, devastated his family and has now turned his own people against him. Faced with endangering the only loved-ones he has left, Nevare has no choice but to surrender to its will and enter the fore.


What I Liked:
  • Finally brings the long-drawn story to a close
  • Quite interesting the way she uses a first-person-stuck-in-another-person POV rather than a straight out first-person POV
  • It feels like a completely different book to the first two because the Speck self of Nevare is in control now, and most of the books focuses on the Speck side of the story.
  • The action bits are still great, and Hobb does a great job describing the pivotal scenes.
  • I like the way she makes the entire story come together in the end.

What I Didn't Like:
  • I still don't like Nevare much as a lead hero, even after three books
  • The whole trilogy really could have been way shorter than it turned out to be
  • Some parts a bit TOO slow.
  • The ending seemed a little TOO conveniently done, and a little anti-climatic.
  • THAT'S IT? That's the solution the magic had in mind all along?

Summary:
With this book, Hobb picks up where she left off in Forest Mage, with the disintegration of Nevare Burvell’s life as a Gernian and the beginning of his life a Speck native of the forest.

This is probably the most intriguing book in the entire trilogy, as the entire perspective is seen from the Gernian part of Nevare, as the dominant Speck-Nevare (known as Soldier’s Boy) takes over and begins to dictate proceedings.

It’s this clash of cultures that ultimately make this series intriguing, as the common sense and Western-superiority complex battles with the Speck’s native conscience. In a way, Hobb mirrors the real world stark reality of oppression of the natives, destruction of forests in the name of development, and the clash of cultures that do not take the effort to understand one another.

Granted, it doesn't really hit the heights of all her previous books, it's still damn good to read. Sure, it's a little slow at parts, and some parts were still a little far-fetched (as far-fetched as a fantasy book can be, that is), but overall, it was still absorbing enough for me to finish quite quickly, in between two other books that is.

Somehow, I doubt that Hobb will ever be able to reclaim the heights that she reached with the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man sagas, but Soldier Son does prove that she s not content to just rehash all her old books, and is at least making an effort to break away from the expectations for 'another Fitz story' in her plots and characters.

Now, I wonder what she has in store for us next....

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