Nevare Burvelle has survived major combat and is making a quick recovery from a disease plaguing his fellows in the King's army. He also believes he is free from the Speck magic that held him under its sway. Now traveling home to rendezvous with his fiancée, Nevare suffers haunting visions and soon realizes that malicious magic still resides within him - and is intent on destroying everything he holds dear.
©2006 Robin Hobb; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
I really wanted to like this series. The setting is awesome. There is a wonderful political landscape, a fairly original system for magic, and interesting peoples. The problem is that the individual characters are mind numbingly dull and painfully lacking in intelligence.
The main character of the novel is so amazingly un-dynamic that you wonder if he has any memory for the past events of the books. Three-fourths of the the way through the second book, we have watched him go through a vast number of experiences and been forced to tediously read his moaning and self-reflections on them, and then he repeats the same verbal responses, preforms the same actions, and gets the same results. We are told by other characters that he is smart and fit to go out on his own to explore and be a "Scout," but all the evidence we witness makes me wonder how anyone could reach that conclusion. Honestly, the book would be much improved if it randomly ended with, "And he fell in a hole and died. The End."
The other major issue is Hobb's inability to get to the point. I can't decide if Hobb wants us to see Burvelle as an idiot, or if she thinks the readers are so stupid as to need the same point to be retold to us 10 different ways. I guess it's one way to fill up space.
I journeyed with Nevare Burvelle because I wanted to see more of the world he inhabits, but seeing his world through his eyes while listening to his inner monologue is far to painful to continue into another book.
All of that said, the narration gives this tedious work some life. I'll be looking for other books read by Keating.
There is not really much character development. Interesting world, but the main character is a boring guy who has a lot of potential, but in the end, he just does whatever the dominant personality wants, which changes, I think that is supposed to be the conflict, but really he is just doing whatever his cousin, father, whoever tells him he should do. If you look at the overall pattern of the book, it is a little discouraging. Basically the father keeps putting him in care of people who do not have his best interests at heart, the main character gets into trouble because of this and he gets blamed for his father being a neglectful parent putting his son in dangerous situations, and the main character just accepts the blame. For example, in the beginning, his father puts him in the care of a phoney retired captain who doesn't really have any interest in taking care of him and the father cannot see through the pretense and the main character gets into trouble and the father blames the main character even though really it is the father's fault for putting his kid in an unsafe situation. The main character never rebels. He doesn't even doubt ever that it was his father in the wrong or even get mad that his father gets upset with him. As the book goes on, the stakes get higher, and the main character just schlepps along doing what he is supposed to do, even though he is a solider, he is really just a milquetoast.
I kept listening and kept an open mind, thinking that the character would successfully navigate a conflict in his own way maybe in the next book in the series but he did not.
That said, I did listen to it twice. It is a sheer delight to listen to John Keating! I was surprised that he came up with new "voices" for the characters, did not really reuse voices from other series that he has narrated.
The narrator did a great job differentiating between characters with his use of pitch, accent, and even speech impediment! The story itself was wonderfully written. Unless I have missed a recent release, I own all Robin Hobb titles that Audbible has to offer. I feel that this series of books did the best job of being a series (e.g., one story that took three books to tell), and yet also retained each book as a distinct step along the character's progress (e.g., each book had a natural breaking point and didn't leave me feeling unfulfilled because of too many loose threads).
Another rousing series by epic fantasy writer, Robin Hobb. And when I say epic, I mean epic. She crafts a fully-integrated world, with not one, but two fully-realized peoples, cultures, histories, magics, and mythologies, and touches briefly enough on a third to give readers a glimpse into the swirling depths of the mind of a creative genius. She takes the reader/listener on a terrific and, occasionally, terrifying journey, and the intensity of it will take your breath away. Occasionally a bit of a slow read, it nevertheless is a rich piece of storytelling. The narration is beautifully done, with a few exceptions - places where the voices are inconsistent with the emotions described, etc. Nevertheless, John Keating does a magnificent job with giving each character a distinct voice, his own voice melodic in the telling of this fantastic tale.
Just as a caution: Read/listen to these books in order. It is a trilogy, and while it is, in theory, possible to read and understand them as separate entities, you would lose the massive arching story and many of the subplots and foreshadowings that are present right from the first page through the last (yes, quite literally. Mz. Hobb is, in fact, a genius when it comes to wrapping stories back around to their beginnings). Shaman's Crossing/Forest Mage/Renegade Magic, for those curious. Happy reading!
Robin Hobb is a talented writer. She comes up with interesting ideas and she can write.
But she seems to get in a rut in this series.
She writes the main character well enough that you care about him. But then, over and over again, he is misunderstood and accused of awful behavior and crimes. He moves from one place to another and then the same scene develops. Over and over again.
Yes, its purposeful and has a point, but it makes for a somewhat unpleasant read. Tedious.
The first book in this series is amazing. Then it all goes down hill. The other two books are just about how fat people are huge and disgusting but it's not really their fault. Every book I have by Robin Hobb has been horrible except this one. But like I said the series goes to crap in books two and three. STAY AWAY!!!
im almost done with this book..and going to stop listing. The author, for some reason haves no concept of action. It's a good story, but is missing the hero i'd expect in a epic Fantacy book.
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