Tag Archives: The Rain Wilds Chronicles

Dragon Keeper

It has been a minute since I read a Robin Hobb book in that one series with all the Elderlings. So I’m not sure if she is softening as she ages, or if I’m hardening as I age, or what. But the first volume of The Rain Wilds Chronicles was not what I expected.

Dragon Keeper returns us to the Bingtown and the Rain Wilds Traders, last seen surviving an invasion due to a timely alliance. Now, brief years later, they are chafing under the terms of that alliance, mainly because its principal member got a boyfriend and stopped hanging around. I’d say more about why that’s an added burden, but it would involve pretty big and unexpected spoilers, so I shan’t.

Our main characters are 1) an unexpectedly married scholar of dragons, 2) a not quite Liveship Trader who has engaged himself in a morally troubling endeavor, and 3) a Rain Wilds teen with no real future, until the option to become eponymous is thrust in front of her. Well, and there’s also a fourth main character who is not strictly human at all as such, although she is the subject of scholarly pursuits.

And here’s the thing I was talking about in the first place: it didn’t feel all that miserable to me? I mean, in the sense that the hallmark of these books to date is how unrelentingly dark they can get, with only occasional flashes of hope and/or success. Do all of the characters have pretty huge problems to overcome? Yes, for sure. But it’s weird that it kind of feels like they can, and maybe even will in some cases.

A couple more weird things, rattling around at the bottom of the barrel. One is, okay, yeah this is a four book series instead of a three book series. Even still, it felt like this was 85% setup, and then 15%… not payoff like you’d expect, but rather 15% the start of the next book, because she was told she could not just have a book that was all setup. Whoever told her that was wrong, because the end we got was weirdly forced and artificial, and the ending we’d have gotten with all setup would have made rather a lot of sense, payoff or no. And two is, at the back of this book, I learned that Robin Hobb also has the pen name Megan Lindholm, which is the same person as a Steven Brust co-author on a book I haven’t yet read but am now much more excited to pick up.

But not, y’know, next. Or indeed anytime soon.