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City of Dragons (The Rain Wild Chronicles, Book 3) Paperback – 7 Apr 2016
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‘In today’s crowded fantasy market Robin Hobb’s books are like diamonds in a sea of zircons’ George R. R. Martin
'Hobb is superb, spinning wonderful characters and plots from pure imagination' Conn Iggulden
'Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers… what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics' The Times
'Hobb is a remarkable storyteller' Guardian
'Robin Hobb writes achingly well' SFX
About the Author
Robin Hobb is one of the world’s finest writers of epic fiction.She was born in California in 1952 but raised in Alaska, where she learned how to raise a wolf cub, to skin a moose and to survive in the wilderness. When she married a fisherman who fished herring and the Kodiak salmon-run for half the year, these skills would stand her in good stead. She raised her family, ran a smallholding, delivered post to her remote community, all at the same time as writing stories and novels. She succeeded on all fronts, raising four children and becoming an internationally bestselling writer. She lives in Tacoma, Washington State.
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Rather than following a quest, as many of the other books in the series have, this book follows the daily lives of the characters from the previous two novels as they continue from the point these books brought them. It makes some interesting points about prejudice, society and childrearing, and the ensemble cast makes the drama feel more real and rounded than ever before.
The plot feels simple despite the array of threads that run through the book, and for the most part each is split into its own chapters, although there are some where the narratives are intertwined, which is a nice variation. I really love the asides between chapters that Hobb uses to expand the world in which her stories are set, and they provide a humorous and interesting companion to the main story.
While it felt a calmer story, I was really hooked by this book and can't believe how quickly I read it compared to some of Hobb's other books. I really enjoy spending time with these characters and hope that Hobb will find more stories to pen once this one is complete.
Normally she writes trilogies, but the final book in this one got somewhat large and ended up being split into two. Thus this is technically the first half of one book, although it isn't billed as such and does feel relaively self contained. But it's by no means the end of the story and thus there's lots unresolved come the end.
There's no exposition to bring new readers up to speed, so there's no point in reading this if you've not read the earlier books in the series. Start with Dragon Keeper (The Rain Wild Chronicles, Book 1).
A little knowledge of her other stories will also help as well - there is a familiar face from one of those in here - but it's not required.
This volume is divided into fifteen chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue, and runs for four hundred and twenty five pages.
It picks up from the ending of book two, with the expedition having reached it's destination.
Some early moments come from the viewpoint of Dragons, and show us the main threat to them. The Duke of Chalced. Who needs Dragons in order to prolong his life.
Whilst those on the expedition and their Dragons get ever closer, and go through great changes as a result, the mysteries of the city await to be uncovered. A trip back to the start of their journey brings fresh problems for one character. Others draw closer. And nobody will be able to keep what they've found hidden forever.
There's lots going on, and quite a few plot strands.
The lack of opening exposition does mean that if it's been a while since you read the second book this does take some time to really get into. As a result, it takes a while to get going, and only really clicks close to page eighty or so.
But once it does, it becomes as readable as what has come before.
If you read Robin Hobb's books, you will know how good her prose and characterisation can be. And this volume is no exception in delivering that.
It doesn't feel like half of a bigger book. It feels like a book in a series. Which does what those need to do. Move things along and set things up for the finale. This it does very well, and it does at just the right pace for a volume of this length, meaning it reads very nicely and the pages flow. Once you get into it.
The fact that it takes a while to get into does stop it from being five star material. But even so, it's a very good read in an entertaining series. And it made me want to know what will happen next. So it did it's job.
To find out what does, read Blood of Dragons (The Rain Wild Chronicles, Book 4)
It would be a shame, after the first two books, if this series turns into a bit of a damp squib of a story. Fingers crossed for the fourth book (when its price has been sensibly reduced!) although the reviews so far are not encouraging :-(.