This book is the sequel to Dragon Keeper. The books are virtually one story, so read that one first (and before you read this review!)
The dragons and their keepers continue their slow and perilous journey up the Rain Wilds river. As they journey closer to the land they hope is fabled Kelsingra, the secrets that the small society has kept from each other are finally coming clear. Thymara is astonished to discover that her fellow marked Rain Wilders are blatantly defying the rules of their society back in Trehaug and for the first time realizes that she can be more than just a strange-looking girl who should have been killed at birth. She also grows closer to Alise, former Bingtown lady, who also has a few uncomfortable truths about her life to face on the journey.
Robin Hobb is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I really enjoyed Dragon Keeper but I was disappointed that it ended so abruptly – it was pretty clear to me that the two were truly meant to be one book. So I wasn’t surprised that this picked up exactly where the last left off; it followed through really well and successfully concluded this story and in turn the story of the dragons which had really begun in the Liveship Traders trilogy. This is perfectly understandable even if you haven’t read that trilogy, though; it’s just a matter of added depth and richness to Hobb’s world.
This is a book I was thrilled to sink my teeth into. I love living in Robin Hobb’s worlds and I could have happily spent way more than 500 pages immersed in this one. The characters are always so interesting and engaging and that’s especially so in this one. Their disputes really come to a head and all secrets from the first book are finally revealed and even developed further.
This book is really about the women; Thymara and Alise each find their freedom in different ways. They’re equally trapped by society before the embark on their journey; Thymara is so heavily marked that she’s forever an outcast, forbidden love, children, or a normal life and considered an abomination. Alise, on the other hand, is stifled by fitting in perfectly, by marrying a man she did not love and who did not love her but who was an excellent catch nonetheless. By traveling with the dragons, both women find themselves and embrace their freedom to be who they want to be, not who society says they should be.
Robin Hobb continues to produce writing that is genuinely amongst the best in epic fantasy today. Honestly, I wish I could read all of her books over again for the first time. Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven together make up a wonderful duology and one that I will happily recommend to all who enjoy fantasy.
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the Amazon Vine program.