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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best book of the trilogy!
I was really curious about this final volume of The Soldier Son trilogy. With both Shaman's Crossing and Forest Mage garnering so many mixed reviews, I was eager to see how Hobb would bring this series to a close with Renegade's Magic.

First of all, I think we should commend the author for showing enough artistic integrity and writing something different...
Published on 30 Jun 2007 by Patrick St-Denis

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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shouldn't have been a trilogy
And so, the Soldier Son Trilogy finally draws to a close.

Was it worth reading? Yes and no. I read this book simply because I'd read the previous two, and had to know what happened next. Unfortunately, Nevare is - if it's possible - bent on feeling even more sorry for himself than before in this final volume. Without giving too much away, a good chunk of this...
Published on 13 Sep 2007 by DLD Woods


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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shouldn't have been a trilogy, 13 Sep 2007
By 
DLD Woods (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
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And so, the Soldier Son Trilogy finally draws to a close.

Was it worth reading? Yes and no. I read this book simply because I'd read the previous two, and had to know what happened next. Unfortunately, Nevare is - if it's possible - bent on feeling even more sorry for himself than before in this final volume. Without giving too much away, a good chunk of this book really is just him thinking 'woe is me' as he watches the events of the world unfold around him.

Luckily, the book redeems itself at the end - not because of the ending itself (indeed, I was a little incredulous. Again, I can't explain this properly without giving out spoilers, but the thought that ran through my head was "... that's IT? THAT'S all they had to do? Why on earth did it take three books to accomplish this?"), but because the quality of the writing picks up. The story moves forward. Things HAPPEN.

There are, in fact, two endings to this book. The first is annoyingly simple, and then the second one is... convenient.

In short, this is a story that's been stretched over too many books, and elongated pointlessly. Two books would've done it, and been more engaging for the brevity.

Should you buy this book? If you've read the other two, you may as well. If you're new to Robin Hobb, however, this is NOT the series to start with. Go back and read Ship of Magic (the Liveship Traders series, my personal favourite), or maybe Assassin's Apprentice (the Farseer Trilogy) to see Hobb at her best.

"Not bad, but not great" is my verdict for this book. I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hobbs Choice, 18 Sep 2007
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The concluding part to Robin Hobbs Soldier Boy Trilogy. Unfortuantely its starts off a little slow and unlike her other work, the protagonist is a character that has little for the reader to sink their teeth into in order to empathise to his cause. That said however her work is still at a level above a number of other authors and had it been them that had written this trilogy we all would have been impressed. Yet having other characters from previous trilogies that we all came to know and love, who we could see grow not only emotionally but also physically did leave me wondering why that key element was missing from this series.

That said, however, the other thing I need to add is that the novel does pick up pace as the tale continues towards its conclusion, building to the trademark crescendo that has kept the fans clamoring for more. The fact that Robin isn't just sticking to the safety of an already established world and is always seeking to add new elements to her bag of tricks has to be applauded. Alongside that we all also get to see different cultures crossing paths that is reminiscent of a John Ford film bringing to light not only the negative aspects that we have come to expect but also the nobility of spirit that has always fascinated those who seek a different viewpoint. This is perhaps Robin's greatest talent, the ability to blend a believable world with characters to lead us on our exploratory adventures.

As such she has succeeded and whilst this trilogy may be one more for the fans rather than a new reader (I'd recommend her Assassin Trilogy personally as the best place to start) it still delivers what it says on the packet and as such will allow people to try new avenues.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing pageturner, 3 Dec 2007
By 
Anine (Trondheim, Norway) - See all my reviews
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This entire trilogy is one big paradox, because the books are pageturners, and yet, well.. not very good!

Alright, Hobb is incredibly talented, but I feel like this trilogy is just unfinished. There are huge chunks of the text that could easily have been edited out (especially in book 2 and even more so with this book), the ending is just plain ridiculous, and there is so, I repeat, SO much unused potential!

Where the other trilogies manage to draw you in and really does give you the feeling that there is an entire universe behind what you are reading, this trilogy manages to skip around anything that could be of any real interest. We have a great kingdom with what seems to be an interesting culture.

So what happens in the book? The protagonist travels as far away as it is at all possible to get without actually going outside the book's cover map, and we don't get to see what else goes on in this world. I just get a feeling that Hobb has written a story about the wrong guy, surely she hasn't used the full potential of what she has created? The world that should have been the center of the action becomes a mere beackdrop, while the protagonist goes about his business in the forest..

Anyone who has read the Robin Hobb books from the Realm of the Elderlings will have to find this trilogy quite disappointing. As the others have mentioned, if you are new to Robin Hobb, you should definitely read "Assasin's apprentice" (and the rest of the farseer trilogy, which gets better with each book.)
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best book of the trilogy!, 30 Jun 2007
By 
Patrick St-Denis "editor of Pat's Fantasy Hot... (Laval, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was really curious about this final volume of The Soldier Son trilogy. With both Shaman's Crossing and Forest Mage garnering so many mixed reviews, I was eager to see how Hobb would bring this series to a close with Renegade's Magic.

First of all, I think we should commend the author for showing enough artistic integrity and writing something different. Unlike writers such as R. A. Salvatore and Terry Brooks, who rarely take a chance to come up with something truly creative outside of their established niche, Robin Hobb elected not to cheat herself and her fans by writing another Fitz novel just for the sake of her popularity. Although I much preferred The Farseer and The Tawny Man trilogies, with The Liveship Traders not far behind, I found most of the concepts Hobb set out to explore in this latest series to be quite interesting. The Soldier Son might not be Robin Hobb at the top of her game, but the series is nevertheless better than 80% of what's out there.

Renegade's Magic is easily the best and most enjoyable volume of The Soldier Son trilogy. One of the main reasons why is that, unlike its two predecessors, this book doesn't suffer from a sluggish pace. The narrative flows extremely well, providing a fluid rhythm throughout the novel.

Of the three volumes, I found the worldbuilding in Renegade's Magic to be the most fascinating. We finally learn a lot more about the Specks. How their magic works is explained in greater details, as are their history, their traditions, etc.

As always, the characterizations are superior. The deeply involved humanity behind it all, Hobb's hallmark, is imbued throughout Renegade's Magic. Three-dimensional characters populate this book, and they all remain true to themselves. This aspect of her characterization is probably what I love the most about Robin Hobb. Her cast always include men and women who feel like "real" people with genuine personalities, good or bad or in between.

Once more, the rich prose characterizing all of her novels adds a little something extra to the reading experience.

Stiff-necked Nevare was a character that was not always easy to like. Unfairly, he will always stand in Fitz's shadow. And yet, this character has gone a long way and has grown on me. Hence, I found it much easier to follow his first person narrative in Renegade's Magic.

I feel that Hobb excels at playing with readers' emotions. Again, blame the author's subtle human touch found in basically every character. Some of the scenes can be very touching, and I feel that this is one of the book's strengths.

Hobb ties up a lot of loose ends from both Shaman's Crossing and Forest Mage, with almost everything coming full circle. In a way, this just might be Hobb's most self-contained series. Many things make more sense now, giving me a new appreciation for the first two volumes.

The Soldier Son may not be Robin Hobb's best series to date. It's certainly not as accessible as her previous works. Still, it's ambitious, different, and more spiritual. I'm convinced that Renegade's Magic will permit readers to appreciate this trilogy on another level.

Check out my blog: [...]
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Final part of The Soldier Son trilogy fails to live up to previous majesty..., 13 July 2007
By 
S. P. Moses (Epsom, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I approached this book with a sense of duty, rather than enthusiasm. Having read the first two parts of the trilogy I needed to know what happened next, but neither "Shaman's Crossing" nor "Forest Mage" had gripped me as completely as Robin Hobb's earlier work. If you are a new reader I suggest you seek out Assassin's Apprentice and the books that follow it, because there you will find Hobb at her best. It might be that I was such a fan of these books that I was initially resistant to this series. All Hobb's books see her major characters suffer, but Nevare Burvelle is more miserable than most, making him less attractive company than previous characters.

A common problem I have with fantasy novels is that there is too much filler material. Sadly I felt that was a problem here - though to her credit Hobb does deal in trilogies with a definite end, rather unending series a la Robert Jordan. This sequence isn't 'high fantasy' though, featuring characters that have guns and gunpowder. If you are engaged by detailed descriptions of imaginary foodstuff then you'll love "Renegade's Magic". As I'm not even interested in books about real food I found myself thinking, "OK, these characters have to eat a lot to gain their magic power, I get that, can we get on with the story now?"

The characters are engaging. Though Hobb has written herself into a corner using a strict first person narrative, for much of the book Nevare is far into the wilderness, so a slightly weak plot device is used to keep in touch with his loved ones.

There are enough revelations to make this book worthwhile. The ending is exciting, with a couple of twists. Indeed, if more of this book had been like the final 100 pages I would recommend it unreservedly. As it is I think that Robin Hobb is one of the best modern fantasy writers around. Sadly "Renegade's Magic" is a story stretched too thin to convince me that this book deserves a place among her finest work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What was she thinking...., 19 May 2014
Okay, first things first: I loved the Fitz books and continue to reread them when I need a lift. I think she writes well and the dragon ship stories are fine, if not as good. I was in a hotel reading this book and a chap walked up and told me it was absolutely fantastic!

But now, not so good......

The first one of this series was okay if a little formulaic, you know the thing: favoured son goes to military school; has fierce father and rather dull beautiful fiancé, etc. falls out of favour and the troubles begin. From then on I lost the will to live. I managed to get through the second although much of it seemed to me indulgent rubbish and I determined not to buy the final book several years ago. Sadly I was in a charity book shop and there it was, so I bought it: at least that made me feel good!

By half way through you begin to wonder what on earth is the point of it all. The characters variously change as the plot requires them to and have little or no consistency She variously gives her hero the ability to talk to his internal demons and influence what happens next. Of course the next time the hero needs to be able to communicate he is struck dumb to keep the plot ticking along. Simply awful plot development and facile constructs to keep things moving in a sort of improbable way. The story drones on and on to the point where I had to start speed reading to get through it. Finally at the end there is a moment where Ms Hobb clearly decided she was either going to do herself in if it didn't finish in five pages or so and you get the denouement that made my teeth clench.

I am clearly in a minority from a critical perspective on this one and possibly I am turning into a grumpy old man. She has the ability and, when she can be bothered, she writes lovely stuff with excellent plot lines. My advice - sadly - is not to bother with any of these and reread the Apprentice books. Sorry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I think the declining scores over the 3 books says it all., 20 April 2010
By 
A. Cresswell "Bubblefish777" (london, UK) - See all my reviews
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So this is the last in this Trilogy and I have to say sadly ... thank goodness. You know a book is bad when you start skim reading it so you can tell yourself you read it but it's so bad you are loathe to spend time reading it properly. I've said in review of Book One and Two that the pace is poor and too much time is given over to irrelevant detail .... Well this continues in Book Three but with a new twist. She continually recaps Book One and Two. Why? Why? WHY? No-one picks up book 3 of a trilogy and starts reading do they ? If they do it's rare but most people would buy book one and go from there. So it is incredibly annoying to find the pace slows even more (I hadn't thought it possible) while we re-cap time and again on events that have happened. The final nail in the coffin for me and this book was when we finally had an opportunity ***SPOILER COMING*** to have a big battle scene and have some heart quickening fast paced action between the Specks and the Humans, it's all brushed over in a cursory fashion and done and dusted in a few pages !!! I felt like yelling. Here we have 3 books all around 600+ pages and every time we have something interesting going on, it's given half a dozen pages at best but if we have a moment when Soldier's Boy goes to bed .... Well goodness me the description of him falling asleep last as long. This was the final straw for me. I won't be buying any more of her books. I personally think she was spot on with Assassins Apprentice but her efforts since have been appalling. Shame on her editor for letting this talent drift.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Happy ending, 14 Mar 2009
Give Hobb her due : she had a plan, and she stuck to it in spite of critics and scoffers. This plan was epic in scope : to show the clash of civilisations, plain dwellers vs forest dwellers, newcomers vs. older settlers, animism vs polytheism vs monotheism and so forth, while at the same time spanning centuries of history, from a state resembling pre-colombian America and the subsequent encroachment of European settlers moving westward ruthlessly, to one that echoes today's Amazon being gashed through and through by new roads. Thanks to Nevare, all these threads will be reconciled in the end as he learns to integrate his schizophrenic self and becomes a citizen of a new world, aware of the goodness and magic of the worlds he has experienced and assimilated on the way.

The fact is that it does not wholly come alive ; and that one is left with a sense that allegory and good intentions are no match for careful, original plotting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow conclusion to a slow series, 4 Feb 2008
By 
David Roy (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
The conclusion to Robin Hobb's "Soldier Son" trilogy, Renegade's Magic, is much like the first two books in the series. This has to be one of the most slow-moving, in-depth character and fantasy-setting studies that I have ever read. I greatly enjoyed the first two books (Shaman's Crossing and Forest Mage), but as the pace remained glacial, my love for the series waned a bit. Once again, I love Hobb's characterization skills but it was almost a chore to get through this book. Not a good way to end a series, but still not bad.

Hobb has created a wonderfully detailed society in the Specks, and she spends a lot of time in Renegade's Magic exploring it as Navarre and Soldier's Boy try to come to terms with what's become of them. This book, as is the rest of the series, is told in first person by Navarre, but for much of the book Navarre is a disembodied presence in Soldier's Boy's body. Thus, we get many passages of Navarre being horrified by what Soldier's Boy is doing with his body, of Navarre trying to either take control of the body or of him trying to influence Soldier's Boy's thinking. Narratively, I'm sure there's a reason for it, but occasionally it becomes obvious that Hobb needed time to pass quickly so she has Soldier's Boy cause Navarre to disappear for a while. Since we see through Navarre's eyes, we don't see anything until he wakes up again.

I did greatly appreciate the depth that Hobb brings to Navarre and to Soldier's Boy as well, the latter of which is even more impressive given the fact that we only see him through Navarre's eyes. Yes, one could say that this entire series is a 2000+ page character study of Navarre, in addition to a fantasy examination of the struggles between nature and science/technology, but the character study is the most interesting part. Hobb's characterization skills come to the fore once again, and my interest in Navarre is what kept me going through some of the slower passages.

Sadly, the climax of the book brings the societal conflict to a close in an almost paint-by-numbers format. When Nevarre finally realizes what he has to do, he quickly goes about doing it and in the process uncovers some of the nuggets Hobb buried in the previous book in order to make the ending even more convenient. The tension between the two societies was delicious, as well as the struggle by the Specks to find some way to combat the building of the road. It's just too bad most of the book feels like Navarre and Soldier's Boy pounding their heads against the wall until suddenly everything becomes clear.

Renegade's Magic, and consequently the rest of the "Soldier's Son" series, isn't for everybody. Some will find the slow pace extremely annoying and will put the first book down long before getting into the story. If the thought of this kind of story repels you, I would think you would have to be a big Hobb fan in order to enjoy it. It even battered me down at times, with the books getting increasingly harder to get through. I still think they are worth the journey, though, and Renegade's Magic is a fitting conclusion to everything that came before. It's an interesting experiment, and while I'm not sure I want to read something like this again too soon, I don't feel my time has been wasted.

David Roy
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked the trilogy, 5 Aug 2007
By 
Ozzie "Lee" (Dumfries, Scotland) - See all my reviews
Ok. The farseer trilogy and its follow up the tawny man were superb. Some of the best books I've ever read and Robin Hobb continues in the first person that I think she does far better than anyone else.

What you've got to accept with the Soldiers son Trilogy is that the character is been driven against his will by the magic and so sometimes he comes out as a bit of "whing bag". Get past that and you can enjoy the books more. The Renegades magic is a really good ending to a really good trilogy. There are a few twists in the ending but what I liked about this final book was the whole battle with his other self and the magic. Robin Hobb then ties up all the loose ends in the final few chapters in an adept way albeit one or two parts are a little mushy. Highly recommended.
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