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Hanne, reading on Cloud 9

Avid book reader. Lover of fantasy, contemporary fiction, short stories and non-fiction. This blog is a work in progress - and it will likely always be that way.

Review: The Dragon Keeper

Dragon Keeper  - Robin Hobb

I don’t know how she keeps doing it; where she keeps finding the creativity and the imagination to flesh out yet another story, yet another set of characters that sound so real they could have been my companions on the tram today. None of those had any scales, but it was close. There was one man in particular that looked like he had washed his hair in acid river water. Not kidding!


This book continues on the story in Liveship Traders. (Ideally you read all trilogies before this one, but Liveships really is a prerequisite). The serpents have hatched but only deformed and stunted dragons have come out, incapable of taking care of themselves. The Rain Wild people want them gone, and the dragons themselves would like to be gone too, and so a new journey begins.


This clearly is a first book in a trilogy though; it doesn’t have any legs to stand on its own. And given that this is not a trilogy but a quadrilogy (is there a name for this?) I wonder why it was done that way. (I guess publication is as much a game as most other businesses, and not necessarily the lovely dovey world of art us readers would love it to be?)


Overall though, the book shows that the bigger story has a lot of promise. There’s a new set of characters: some of them I will be cheering for, others I already find utterly despicable. There’s a new journey with a promise of a better future. Knowing Mrs Hobb, she’ll probably put them all through hell first, but they might get there after all.

There’s one part of this story that hit me as a literary critique on society today, something I hadn’t noticed that much in any of her previous books. This idea to put any new-born that doesn’t fit the perfect-human-mold out with the garbage. We don’t do that exactly, but we do a battery of testing on fetuses before they are born to make sure they fit the mold. And what if they don’t? Do we take them away, cry about our bad luck and try again? Or do we do what Thymara’s father did and give her a chance? I loved the observation that Thymara made all the other Rain Wild people nervous, because they wonder whether it was possible for them to live normally after all.


On top of Thymara, we have a whole bunch of deformed dragons, of no interest to anyone, dragon or human. Let’s prove them all wrong, shall we? Let’s show them that the one-eyed can be king in the land of the two-eyed too!