Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Leaning Pile of Books

This week I got two books as late birthday presents from my husband (one of them was not out before my birthday last month). He got me personalized copies of the two books in the Rain Wilds Chronicles by Robin Hobb from The Signed Page, which I was perfectly happy to wait for considering Robin Hobb is one of my favorite authors. Plus this is a followup to The Liveship Traders trilogy, quite possibly my favorite of the three I read (it took longer for me to get into than the others but once I did it was completely worth it).

The only problem is I want to start them now but there's no way I can finish them before it's time to head out for Book Expo America and I'm not traveling with big hardcover books OR precious signed books (although I may read the unsigned copy of the first book I already had in order to preserve the other one).

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

For years, the Trader cities valiantly battled their enemies, the Chalcedeans. But they could not have staved off invasion without the powerful dragon Tintaglia. In return, the Traders promised to help her serpents migrate up the Rain Wild River after a long exile at sea—to find a safe haven and, Tintaglia hopes, to restore her species. But too much time has passed, and the newly hatched dragons are damaged and weak, and many die. The few who survive cannot use their wings; earthbound, they are powerless to hunt and vulnerable to human predators willing to kill them for the fabled healing powers of dragon flesh.

But Tintaglia has vanished and the Traders are weary of the labor and expense of tending useless dragons. The Trader leadership fears that if it stops providing for the young dragons, the hungry and neglected creatures will rampage—or die along the river’s acidic muddy banks. To avert catastrophe, the dragons decree a move even farther up the treacherous river to Kelsingra, their ancient, mythical homeland whose mysterious location is locked deep within the dragons’ uncertain ancestral memories.

To ensure their safe passage, the Traders recruit a disparate group of young people to care for the damaged creatures and escort them to their new home. Among them is Thymara, an unschooled forest girl of sixteen, and Alise, a wealthy Trader’s wife trapped in a loveless marriage, who attaches herself to the expedition as a dragon expert. The two women share a deep kinship with the dragons: Thymara can instinctively communicate with them, and Alise, captivated by their beauty and majesty, has devoted her life to studying them.

Embarking on an arduous journey that holds no promise of return, the band of humans and dragons must make their way along the toxic and inhospitable Rain Wild River—an extraordinary odyssey that will teach them lessons about themselves and one another, as they experience hardships, betrayals, and joys beyond their wildest dreams.

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb

There is a shadow of a legend of a city, a fireside tale of a place where dragons and Elderlings once lived side by side in harmony and comfort. Kelsingra. To the final remnant of the dragon population and the human outcasts of the Rain Wild settlement, it seems a dream too good to be true. Does a haven exist for them? As they continue their trek up the uncharted Rain Wild River, fate and hardship will gnaw at their numbers and their determination. And the legends of the ancient beings called Elderlings will intrude into their adventure in a destiny beyond human control.


orannia said...

I don't think I ever read The LiveShip Trilogy. I think I tried too, and failed :( But reading the summaries of these books has me tempted all over again :) I'm guessing, Kristen, it's better to start at the beginning?

Memory said...

What an awesome birthday present!

Jamie Gibbs said...

I'd love to get personalised fantasy books for my birthday. Jealous!

I've still not read anything by Robin Hobb, but her stuff's on my to read list. Where would you recommend I start with her books?

Kristen said...

Orannia - It did take me a bit of time to really get into the first Liveship Traders book. I found that the slow parts in the beginning ended up being very worth it though.

I haven't read these two new ones yet, but I'd guess it's better to start at the beginning from the descriptions. Liveship Traders is actually related to two other trilogies by Hobb and I think it's ideal to read them starting with the very first book, Assassin's Apprentice. Liveship Traders could probably stand on its own (it's been a few years since I've read them now so I'm not sure just how much), but it would make more sense if the Assassin trilogy was read first. I also found the first Assassin book much easier to get into from the start than the first Liveship Traders book (although I did find the final Assassin book to be a bit slow-moving). They are a bit different, though - they're from a first person perspective and a lot of people cannot stand the narrator. Personally, I liked him but they do seem to be books where you either love or hate the main character (although my husband did enjoy these books in spite of sometimes thinking he was being too angsty).

Memory - I know, I just love personalized books by authors I love! :)

Jamie - They do make a great gift. Signed and/or personalized books are my favorites.

I haven't read the Soldier Son trilogy yet, but most people seem to prefer Hobb's other books. So I'd recommend starting at the very beginning of her 3 related trilogies with Assassin's Apprentice. A lot of people cannot stand the main character, though, so if you end up being one of those people, maybe just skip to the first Liveship Traders book, which has a wider variety of main characters.