Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds Chronicles, Book 4)
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(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Years ago, the magnificent dragon queen Tintaglia forged a bargain with the inhabitants of the treacherous Rain Wilds. In exchange for her protection against enemy invaders, the humans promised to protect an unhatched brood of dragons. But when the dragons emerged as weak and misshapen hatchlings unable to fend for themselves, dragonkind seemed doomed to extinction. When even Tintaglia deserted the crippled young dragons, the Rain Wilders abandoned the burden of caring for the destructive and ravenous creatures. They were banished to a dangerous and grueling journey in search of their ancient dragon homeland, the lost city of Kelsingra, accompanied by a band of young and inexperienced human keepers, also deemed damaged and disposable.

Against all odds they have found the fabled city, yet myriad challenges remain. Sintara, Mercor, Heeby, Relpda, and the rest of the dragons struggle to find their wings—and their independence. Their human escorts, too, must contend with unsettling upheaval: Thymara, Tats, Rapskal, Sedric, and the others are transforming into Elderlings—true dragon companions. As old rules give way to new alliances, secret fears, and adult desires, the keepers must redefine their lives as they attempt to reawaken Kelsingra to its former glory. But gaps in the dragons’ memories leave them all struggling to recover the magic that once animated the great city.

As the young Elderlings risk “memory walking” in the city’s hidden history, an outside threat is growing. The Duke of Chalced has dispatched his forces to the Rain Wilds with a compelling mission: slaughter the dragons in an attempt to stave off his own demise. The tide of history is about to turn on a life-and-death battle that will ultimately decide the dragons’ fate. If they win, the regal serpents will rule the world once more. And if they lose, they will vanish from the world forever.”

This is one of those novels about which I feel a little conflicted.  On one hand, this series is a trilogy that stretched out for an extra book due to the story “growing”, according to the author.  There are several points in this novel where that stretching is evident.  It’s not so much that you read the book and think “Oh, here’s the point where she added things in” as it is just an overall feeling that the plot is dragging.  I felt that there was less plot movement in this novel than in the others.

Also, I noticed that some of the events that would have been the most dramatic and fun to read are skimmed over or skipped altogether.  I can’t name them without giving away a lot of the plot, but I was frustrated near the end when a major development is given short shrift.  This contributes to the pacing issues that I was noticing, because page count seems to be given to things that don’t have much impact on the story as a whole.

On the other hand, I absolutely adore Hobb’s writing.  I’ve been a fan of her novels ever since I picked up Assassin’s Apprentice, the book that started this long-running tale, and I will run out and buy her books on the release date because I always enjoy them.  And this novel is no different—just because I saw some plot unevenness doesn’t mean that I disliked the book.  Far from it!  Hobb is an evocative writer, and readers of her stories are transported to the Rain Wilds or the city of Kelsingra, flying alongside dragons or roaming the treetop cities of the Rain Wilds traders.  For me, her world is a familiar friend, and I love revisiting it.

It’s hard to review a book that is the fourth and final book in a series, because much of my recommendation is based on the series as a whole.  Critiquing this book in a vacuum doesn’t work all that well, because I’m also judging how well the author wrapped up her plotlines and brought the entire story to a conclusion.  In this respect, Hobb does the job well.  By the end, we know the fate of the dragons as well as the fates of many of the characters, both good and bad.

I freely admit that I’m biased in favor of Hobb’s books.  This novel may have its slow sections, but I find myself looking forward to new forays into the world of the Six Duchies and the Rain Wild Traders regardless of how they’re presented to me.  I hope that you’re already a fan of Robin Hobb so that you can experience this latest journey with the mythical dragons.  Blood of Dragons offers beauty, mystery and drama in equal measure, with a healthy dose of the proud and arrogant dragons that this world is known for.

Also by this author: Assassin’s Apprentice, Dragon Haven, Fool’s Errand, Fool’s Fate, Golden Fool

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on May 6, 2013.

Series: Rain Wild Chronicles
ISBN: 9780062116857
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Page Count: 448
Publication Date: April 9, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through Edelweiss
Author Website
Read an excerpt