Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Dragons are very popular these days - with the release of the new animated movie, "How To Train Your Dragon," (which was very cute, by the way) the mythical flying creatures are in "vogue."

We all know the cutesy dragons from "Puff The Magic Dragon," "Pete's Dragon," and even H.R. Puffnstuff (which was supposed to be a dragon), but real images of dragons are legendary and slightly frightening creatures that appear in the myths and tales of many cultures. Fierce and independent, dragons could wreck havoc, or if they wished, could provide protection for those they trust.

In Robin Hobb’s thrilling new book, “Dragon Keeper,” the tables have turned and the dragons of the Rain Wilds River are in trouble and must depend on their human contacts to help with their very survival.

The last of their kind and the only hope for the future of dragons, 15 young, but malformed dragons have been hatched along the deadly acidic Rain Wilds River. Requiring more work than the humans who had championed their existence bargained for, the village elders determine the creatures must be moved. Deciding to take care of two problems at once, they recruit a group of young misfits, who have the mark of the river upon them – scales, claws, and other attributes that make their community uncomfortable - to accompany the dragons to the ancient Elderling city of Kelsingra – a journey almost guaranteed to fail.

Among those escorting the dragons are Thymara, a young teenage girl whose claws enable her to climb trees and who also can communicate with the dragons; her best friend Tats, a former slave; Alise Kincannon, the wife of a wealthy trader and a self-taught dragon expert, and her companion, the long-suffering Sedric. Following them on the journey is the Liveship Tarman, a ship made from the miraculous wizardwood that enables it to have dragon memories, captained by Leftrin and his crew. As they travel upriver, the keepers and the rest begin to learn more about the dragons and about themselves as well.

But it’s the dragons themselves who are the stars of this book. Although malformed from the arduous journey to the nesting grounds and from hatching earlier than they should have, all of the survivors are brave, and determined. Among them are Sintara, the feisty blue queen dragon; the golden Mercor, wise beyond his years; less than smart Heeby, a tiny red queen who is determined to fly; blue-black Kalo the largest and grumpiest of the dragons; and Dortean and Skrim, the orange twin dragons. They all have a variety of problems, from misshapen wings to shortened legs, but they each have the memories of their ancestors to guide to where their hearts desire – home to Kelsingra.

Robin Hobb creates a fascinating world with “Dragon Keeper.” Spinning an imaginative tale that is captivating and satisfying, she pulls her audience into the land of dragons and dreams. Painting her settings with such vivid descriptions, one almost feels that the lands along the Rain Wilds River might actually exist. Hobb’s characters are complex, but appealing, and as the stories of human and dragons interconnect, their relationships become central to this first book in a planned trilogy.

I’m not one who is usually gun-ho for fantasy novels, but after being urged to “just try it,” I found that “Dragon Keeper” grabbed my attention, and I couldn’t put it down. The second installment, “Dragon Haven,” is due out in May, and I’m already looking forward to learning more about the dragons, their keepers and their adventures.


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Sharon - this looks so good! So glad you enjoyed it ;)

ibdragon said...

First, you site looks so spring--eee! That is a good thing. 2nd I have enjoyed all of Robin Hobbs books and am going to look for this one immediately after posting here!

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

So glad you dropped by!

....Petty Witter said...

Dragons, Set to be the new 'vampire' - many thanks for what sounds like a very readable book to add to Niece #2's Dragon book collection.