Wednesday, 3 October 2012

City of Dragons by Robin Hobb | Coming Home

Reading Robin Hobb is like coming home. It's familiar, warming and things are the same, but different. City of Dragons, the third installment of The Rain Wilds Chronicles ties together this series with the previous trilogies The Farseer and The Liveship Traders.

The dragons and their keepers have finally reached Kelsingra, the mythical city of the Elderlings. But because most of the dragons cannot fly, they are stuck on the other side of the river. Only Heeby can so far fly to Kelsingra at will, and she is happy to bring her keeper Rapskal, as well as the "expert" on Elderlings, Alise.

Through their explorations of the city, readers of The Farseer will rediscover Kelsingra, and some of the mysteries Fitz never got to the bottom of will be shed light on. Will the city drown the keepers in memories? And what will happen to the city once Leftrin reaches Cassarick and the rest of the world learns about the existence of the mythical city? 

Malta, Reyn and Selden are also prominent characters in this book. They didn't play a big part in the first two books of the series, but here we finally meet them properly again and learn their fates after the events of The Liveship Traders. Malta is pregnant with what she hopes will be her and Reyn's first living child. Malta's younger brother Selden is in a very different predicament. Taken captive in Chalced as "the dragon man" he has to endure cruelties untold.

On top of this, the Chalcedeans are upping their hunt for dragons and dragon parts. Tintaglia learns a painful lesson in an unexpected encounter with arrows. And on his return to Cassarick, Leftrin learns that more people than expected are involved in the Chalcedean plot. The Chalcedeans are desperate, and will stop at nothing to get what they want. Once the idea strikes them that Elderling parts might serve the same purpose, things get very dangerous for our Elderling heroes.

I love being back in Robin Hobb's world, and I cannot get enough of this universe. I get to relive the initial awe of Kelsingra from The Farseer, but now the pieces are coming together. The two first books of this series was possibly a bit slow, but City of Dragons really picks up the pace and widens the scope of the story. We are no longer solely focusing on the slow trek upriver, we have reached the destination and get to see what else is happening in the world. I'm just bummed I now have to wait 6 months to read the final book, Blood of Dragons. Is it too much to ask, dear sweet Robin Hobb, that Fitz or the Fool/Amber make an appearance in the final book? All the other knots are being tied up, but I have to admit, every now and then I stop and wonder what Fitz is doing now. The end of Fool's Quest left room for a last adventure, but perhaps that is another novel (or trilogy)... *fingers crossed*

It should be clear by now that I really loved this book. Robin Hobb delivers reading experiences like no other. It's when I read her novels that I remember why I love fantasy fiction. I have to say, it seems that she's become more brutal in this book, and I like that. She's not at George R R Martin-level, but it's still nice.

Robin Hobb, please keep writing. You practically took my fantasy-virginity, and I will always love you for that and return to you again and again.