Saturday, August 11, 2007

Renegade's Magic: Book Three of the Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb

624 pages
Voyager (July 2, 2007 UK)

Robin Hobb concludes her newest trilogy with Renegade's Magic, book three of her Soldier Son Trilogy. Can Hobb top or equal any one of her previous three trilogies that are considered by most fantasy readers as one of todays best fantasy stories?

Nevare Burvelle's role in Renegade's Magic is a voice in the back of the head of Soldier's Boy, the living part that is in control of the body that was once military fit Nevare. Now as a magically fat 'Great One', Nevare loses all control of his being and sits as a passenger with little to no say in what his body does. Soldier's Boy is set on destroying Nevare's military post of Gettys in order to stop the building and construction of the Kings Road that will eventually tear down the ancestor trees in which dead Great Ones souls now reside in. Nevare is dead set on letting his family and friends of Gettys live while Soldier's Boy will not relent and is determined to destroy at whatever means necessary the lives of every person alive in the small military front. These consciences battle for control of the physical body of Nevare Burvelle and ultimately the fate of the country of Ghernia.

First off, one must comment on Robin Hobbs writing ability, and for her style of writing throughout the first three quarters of Renegade's Magic. She somehow writes in first person of Nevare with zero control of his physical body. What this translates to is that Hobb was writing a whole lot like 'Soldier's Boy regained a good deal of his weight...The height I had inherited from my father benefited him there...'. She basically tells the story of a voice that is disconnected from its body, and someone else with an entirely different focus has control of it. I imagine it was very difficult to write this with such precision and without losing focus of the story.

Now for the story itself. The story is very original and near brilliant, its just very slow paced. The magic system is very original and different, a direction I would say that few would dare to take. The story of the Great Ones and their ancestor trees is borderline too close to Orson Scott Cards 'Speaker for the Dead' Sci Fi masterpiece. There are no dragons, no explosions, no breathtaking romances, and no dramatic fight scenes (aside from one that lasts very little time). Altogether, the story lacks fireworks and bangs, bells and whistles, but Hobb's books always have. The action, as always for her, is backseat to the character interaction.

Once again, being a Robin Hobb book, this one is no different from her others, its main attraction is its characters. Absurdly real thoughts and feelings are displayed in Nevare, his decisions are ones that you and I would make in a real world situation. His love is real, and likewise, his hatred is real. Robin Hobb's knack for writing about frighteningly real characters is equally as prevalent in this book as it is in any of her writings. Nevare is easily this years most believable character.

In conclusion, book three is far better than one and two, but that being said, Renegade's Magic is still not the best of books, and still further, its far from what Hobb has done in the past. Sadly, I doubt she will ever top her Assassin, Liveship, and Tawny Man trilogies. Whats strange is that right around page four hundred, this story takes a turn that almost brings me back to the edge of my seat page turning from her three previous trilogies. If there was more of this, this series would be much better. But aside from that, The Soldier Son Trilogy is very solid, very original, and a strong story of the inner battles of an easily realized character. Robin Hobbs latest isn't her best, but it still beats a great majority of what litters the Science Fiction/Fantasy shelves of your local bookstore. [book: 4/5, trilogy: 3.5/5]


shannon said...

ok first off, how the hell did your blog know my name? creepy.

so...i agree mostly with this. although i think i enjoyed the other two books more than you did, i definitely think the third was the strongest. i love the way she wrote nevare and soliders' boy as two different "people" but i still didnt feel nearly as connected to nevare as i did to fitz and everyone. but overall i think it was a good series.

nice review honey!

Lynn said...

Good words.