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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laboured...but worth it.
Shaman's Crossing was the first Robin Hobb book I had read, so I was very much a latecomer to her writing. However, it hooked me in to the extent that I read The Farseers, Liveship and Tawny Man Trilogies and found them to be far superior titles.

That said, "Forest Mage" is a huge improvement and a very good book. From the sumptous cover and positive ending to...
Published on 29 July 2006 by Jumbo

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dismayed
As someone who really enjoyed the Farseer and Tawny man trilogies, I read Shaman's Crossing expecting the superior spinning of tales she is so justly known for, but was bitterly disappointed.

Now here I am buying the sequel with hope in my heart, unfortunately this warm glow of hope was crushed. I even had to force myself to finish this, something I've rarely...
Published on 18 Feb. 2008 by Tyler Readman


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laboured...but worth it., 29 July 2006
By 
Jumbo "Jumbo" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
Shaman's Crossing was the first Robin Hobb book I had read, so I was very much a latecomer to her writing. However, it hooked me in to the extent that I read The Farseers, Liveship and Tawny Man Trilogies and found them to be far superior titles.

That said, "Forest Mage" is a huge improvement and a very good book. From the sumptous cover and positive ending to Shaman's Crossing, the novel could trick you into thinking better things are just ahead for Nevare. Wrong.

Forest Mage is a book steeped in misery. As many have stated, the after-effects of the Speck magic unleashed into Nevare in Shaman's Crossing cause him to lose control of his outward appearance and be shunned by his own people. The first four or five chapters of this book can make for incredibly uncomfortable and upsetting reading. And it only gets more miserable from there.

Piece by piece, Hobb decides to remove what Nevare holds dear. A lot of Forest Mage takes place on the Gernian frontieer, which is miles away from the lawful school setting of the first book. The glorious vision of the King's Road and imperialist expansion in the first novel gives way to the reality - a barren wasteland subject to martial law, angry mobs, starving and dead children, where the military has no faith remaining and desertion and suicide are high.

As forlorn as Nevare often is, by the end of the book you really begin to fight for him. One of the main attractions towards his character comes with the realisation that neither the prejudiced, ignorant Gernians nor the completely alien Specks (the main "civilizations") are genuinely sympathetic entities worth fighting for. Yet Nevare, in his own way, doggedly persists to uphold what he believes is right.

Overall, Forest Mage is to be considered an extremely dark fantasy novel. Still, Hobb maintains her wonderful descriptive talent and fluidity of prose throughout. Never have I seen a character been put through so much in any genre of book I've read before. Only bad things happen in Forest Mage, and there is no light at the tunnel at the end.

Bring on Renegade Magic.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PLEASE remember that this isn't Farseer!, 24 Aug. 2006
By 
Jennifer Winn (nr Durham, uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
reading through the reviews i was a bit disheartened to hear so many people deploring the fact that Nevarre just isnt Fitz... well, he isnt, so of course he's going to be different!

the first book in this series, i admit, left me feeling a bit disappointed. Now i have finished this book, however, i am much reassured. because of the fact that this is quite a hefty trilogy, it's only right that the fist installment should set the scene.

i was dubious about starting this one, but as soon as i sat down with it i knew that Robin Hobb had done it again! without rehashing the plot (you can just read other reviews for that) let me assure you that Forest Mage pulls out all the stops and i wish it was already july 07! i cannot wait for the final installment, not least to find out what the hell he has to do for the magic!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oddly enjoyable and involving, 14 July 2006
Okay, let's face what will unfortunately always be a problem to haunt Hobb's books- Nevare is NOT FitzChivalry. Although this seems obvious it's always niggling at the back of my mind that I don't like Nevare anywhere near as much as Fitz or the Fool.

On the positive side, Forest Mage beats Shaman's Crossing hands down. Nevare's character has definately been progressed and he certainly has more personality. Forest Mage also has some wonderful descriptive moments- don't read dieting, it makes you crave food, the desciptions are so convincing!

This book however, did make me cringe. Nevare seems to constantly go back to pain and suffering when part of you just wants to scream at him to do something else. I also found the descriptions of his weight quite upsetting and how he feels imprisoned within his own flesh (although I think this was the point, it seems to just get unnecessary to do this to a character, but maybe I am soft on characters!). This book seems to take angst to a new level, as the character is emotionally tortured at what is happening, yet doesn't seem to see the way out of the pain and turns his back on it. I also got a few hundred pages into the book and wondered where the forest in the title was!

I think that there is a deep flaw in Nevare in that he simply becomes annoying because he is so dutiful and honest. I just felt like screaming at him to stand up for himself and maybe stop being so damn "good" all the time.

I know I've complained, but I think it's all mainly because of the comparisons I inevitably make to Assassin and Fool (I never found Liveships as entertaining either). It's a very good book in itself, and I would recommend it :o) I'm looking forward to Renegade Magic, although not as much as I would towards another FItz and Fool book!
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Robin!, 10 Sept. 2006
By 
Ms. Lyndsay E. Wallace "Miss W" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I've never really been into fantasy all that much but Robin Hobb came highly recommended so I thought "why not?". The Farseer books blew me away and since then I have read pretty much everything of hers I could get my hands on.

I've read a few reviews of her newest Soldier Son trilogy and have been disappointed by the inability people have to let go of the old and embrace the new. Yes Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool became the loves of my life whilst I was reading the books and I was quite frankly devastated when I read the final page of the last book in the series but I've kept my mind open and allowed Hobb to entice me with something different.

Shamen's Crossing is a slow mover (as was Assassin's Apprentice) but this is key to why Hobb's characters are so beautifully developed. The main character in this book is not immediately likeable but this is to show just how inhibited he is by the world his father has created for him. He does not understand what it means to love someone of his own accord, to choose a path for himself which is not predesigned. I think the reader feels alienated from him because we no longer live in a world where our decisions are made for us. I will never forget Fitz but his story is over (thankfully a happy ending) and Nevare's is only just beginning.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dismayed, 18 Feb. 2008
By 
Tyler Readman (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2): 2/3 (Paperback)
As someone who really enjoyed the Farseer and Tawny man trilogies, I read Shaman's Crossing expecting the superior spinning of tales she is so justly known for, but was bitterly disappointed.

Now here I am buying the sequel with hope in my heart, unfortunately this warm glow of hope was crushed. I even had to force myself to finish this, something I've rarely ever needed to do. All I felt was frustration and disgust towards the lead character, lets face it he made my fists itch and my stomach turn with all the self-righteous self-pity. If this was the desired intention of the author then all praise is due her.

Now for only the second time will I refuse to finish a series, especially at the price it will first published under. I sincerely hope that the books that follow from the well of her inspiration are of the previously HIGH standard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Mysterious and rewarding.. Robin Hobb's masterpiece, 6 July 2010
By 
Owain (Dyserth, Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2): 2/3 (Paperback)
Forest Mage is a brilliant, dark character portrayal that's managed to move me, captivate me and generally changed my outlook on the world around me.
It starts off exactly where Shaman's crossing finished. The academy is recovering from the plague and Nevare is sent to visit his brother Rosse's wedding. As fate goes though, things don't turn the way he'd like it to...
Robin Hobb's managed to create yet another world filled with complexity, originality and engaging characters. Forest Mage expands the brilliance of Shaman's Crossing to bring the characters to deeper, darker situations and pulls things off realistically and successfully.
She's humanized Nevare into a more believable person, reflecting emotions you'd expect him to go through perfectly. Nevare's thoughts are incredibly powerful, giving an extra dimension to the world around him.
I won't pretend to deny that the book is written in a slow pace. What I will say however is that this works to the book's advantage. This slower pace makes things seem more rewarding, and manages to help sustain a great sense of mysterious atmosphere throughout.
The book is dark. Not often do you get any uplifting moments in the tale. It has a constant sense of hopelessness which eventually manages to have its reasons to fit into the plot. If you can manage to sit through the constant cloud of despair in the book then you will be lavishly rewarded.
All in all, this is an incredibly personal and effective book. It made me question my morals and question the world around me. Not often to any books, films or TV shows manage to do this for me. The ending alone is worth the whole book. It actually brought me to tears, and shocked me at how unexpected it was.
If you enjoyed Shaman's Crossing, then have no doubts about this novel. Buy it now.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The magic was there at the end!, 24 July 2006
Like other reviewers, I struggled with Shaman's Crossing, but being an avid fan of Hobb's works I stuck with it and by the end felt that Nevare was a character whose story I wanted to follow. However, Forest Mage, proved a similar journey. There is no doubting Hobb's mastery of language; her ability to conjure up the sight and smell of the foods that Nevare devours is exquisite and her ability to create the sense of true relationships between the characters is also outstanding, but I felt that much of the bulk of this tome was devoted to drawing out a long and infuriatingly annoying tale of Nevare's journey. I wanted to kick him into action and understanding and found myself skimreading some pages to get to the next interesting bit, which I have never done before with Hobbs's books. Having said all that, the final chapters of the book were indeed heartwrenching and I am not ashamed to say that I cried volumes over the final pages - so perhaps it succeeded after all? Perhaps a pared down version would have been preferable? Overall a good read and as usual I await the final volume in eager anticipation of a return to Hobbs' gripping style of writing. Like other readers, I too miss Fitz and the Fool!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curiously manages to be both dull and yet still reasonably readable, 20 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2): 2/3 (Paperback)
Having listened to the first one as an audio book (from the library) and found it to be decidedly dull but somehow still pleasant enough listening, I am not totally sure why I chose to plough onwards with the second book. It continues very much in the same vein, never really stirring any emotions or rising above a very modest trot. In this regard it reminds me of some of the L. E. Modesitt Recluse books - a genteel read that doesn't tax the reader with anything as trying as involvement. Maybe it is down to my really not engaging with the lead character at all - he just isn't very likeable (a review I saw of the first book suggested he needed to get a backbone - pathetic would not be an altogether unfair assessment of his character). One can sympathise with his being trapped inside a body he finds vile and the other unpleasant things that happen as his life rather falls to pieces, but it is hard to care much what does happen to him.

Finally, that fish on the front: what on Earth is that about, shouldn't the cover bear some resemblance to something that goes on in the book?

Will I read the final one? perhaps; will I care if Navarre ends up as toast?...not so much.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars persevere, 30 Aug. 2007
By 
Laylarnie (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2): 2/3 (Paperback)
I think the real problem with this book is the pace....SOOO SLOW!!! I love Hobb's writing and really rate her ability to create worlds and realist human characters that are unlike the 2D heroes featured in most fantasy. The characters featured here are no exception and the family dispute upon Nevare's return literally had me in tears.
As a book it was slightly disappointing with a chronically slow pace and unbreakably depressive tone. What I found fascinating was the reaction I had to Nevare who I had always pictured as handsome. I refused to see him as described and kept hoping that he would once again return to the hansom hero of the first book.
I think that this is a very unique representation incorporated by Hobb. All characters in fantasy are beautiful or brainy or have a special talent. Most have experienced a loss and that is how magic is discovered. What I love about this book is how it twists all these preconceptions, telling the tale of an average character whom magic is forced upon and from which his life is destroyed. The cruel reaction to Nevare's physical state from the other characters is an accurate representation of real life.
If you can persevere with this, it contains fascinating social scrutiny, an accurate perception of human character and believable characters. As with the Live Ship Traders books, Hobb has maintained her power to develop realistic and passionate characters.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DON'T PANIC, it got better, 5 Jan. 2007
By 
DLD Woods (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When I read Shaman's Crossing (the first installment in this new trillogy), I had my doubts. Hobb laid all the grounding for a story that could turn out to be something wonderful, but the book itself lacked something.

With this installment, she's really brought things back up to standard, so please don't be discouraged by the first book. Nevare's internal struggle between his two selves does get a little overdone in places, but that's the only real complaint I have - this is the kind of book that keeps you up long into the night, reading on regardless of bleary eyes and work in the morning. A stonking good read, if you'll pardon the expression :p.
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Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2): 2/3
Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2): 2/3 by Robin Hobb (Paperback - 1 July 2008)
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