Blood of Dragons

First of all, special thanks to Robin for sending me a copy of this book when we couldn't work things out with Harper Voyager. Much appreciated!

In my review of City of Dragons, I expressed concern regarding the fact that Hobb's publishers had once again seen fit to split her manuscript into two installments. Given that City of Dragons turned out to be a relatively short novel, it looked as though those publishers were milking Hobb's popularity by forcing her legions of fans to purchase two volumes instead of a single novel. Sadly, it turned out that I was right, what with Blood of Dragons being no doorstopper of a book. Hence, there were no reasons to actually split this manuscript in two. Oddly enough, HarperCollins also publishes Neal Stephenson, whose last two novels clocked at over 900 pages a piece in hardcover format.

Unfortunately, this proliferation of unnecessary installments took something away from both City of Dragons and Blood of Dragons. Taken together, they represent another quality read by Robin Hobb and a nice addition to the Rain Wilds canon. But as a two-volume work, they lose some of their appeal. Especially due to the time gap between the release of the two books. City of Dragons ended somewhat arbitrarily, with no resolution whatsoever. And then, being forced to wait for months to read Blood of Dragons sort of killed the momentum of the storylines and it was hard at first to get back into the tale.

Here's the blurb:

Years ago, the magnificent dragon queen Tintaglia forged a bargain with the inhabitants of the treacherous Rain Wilds. In exchange for her protection against enemy invaders, the humans promised to protect an unhatched brood of dragons. But when the dragons emerged as weak and misshapen hatchlings unable to fend for themselves, dragonkind seemed doomed to extinction. When even Tintaglia deserted the crippled young dragons, the Rain Wilders abandoned the burden of caring for the destructive and ravenous creatures. They were banished to a dangerous and grueling journey in search of their ancient dragon homeland, the lost city of Kelsingra, accompanied by a band of young and inexperienced human keepers, also deemed damaged and disposable.

Against all odds they have found the fabled city, yet myriad challenges remain. Sintara, Mercor, Heeby, Relpda, and the rest of the dragons struggle to find their wings—and their independence. Their human escorts, too, must contend with unsettling upheaval: Thymara, Tats, Rapskal, Sedric, and the others are transforming into Elderlings—true dragon companions. As old rules give way to new alliances, secret fears, and adult desires, the keepers must redefine their lives as they attempt to reawaken Kelsingra to its former glory. But gaps in the dragons' memories leave them all struggling to recover the magic that once animated the great city.

As the young Elderlings risk "memory walking" in the city's hidden history, an outside threat is growing. The Duke of Chalced has dispatched his forces to the Rain Wilds with a compelling mission: slaughter the dragons in an attempt to stave off his own demise. The tide of history is about to turn on a life-and-death battle that will ultimately decide the dragons' fate. If they win, the regal serpents will rule the world once more. And if they lose, they will vanish from the world forever.

Interestingly enough, as Blood of Dragons is essentially the second part of what was meant to be a stand-alone work, my review will more or less be identical to that of City of Dragons.

Once more, the worldbuilding was the most interesting facet of this book. We got even more insight into the lives of dragons, Elderlings and their secrets, as well as the Rain Wilds in general. Additional revelations about Kelsingra were fascinating, with each answer raising yet more questions about that distant past. Via Selden's plotline, we were offered quite a few glimpses of life at the court of Chalced, which was intriguing. The discovery of Silver seems to herald the true return of dragons to Hobb's universe, which bodes well for the future. The way Blood of Dragon is brought to a close leaves the door open for so much more. It will be quite interesting to see where Robin Hobb will take this story next.

As always, Hobb's characterization remains her strong suit. As was the case in the last few Rain Wilds books, the emancipation of women and society's acceptance of gay people continue to be themes that lie at the heart of the tale that is City of Dragons/Blood of Dragons. The same goes for the theme focusing on how individuals shunned by society strive to find their own place in the world. Tillamon's plotline, though extraneous, was a nice touch in that regard. What was at the beginning Thymara, Alise, and Sedric's tale is more spread out in terms of POVs this time around. In Chalced, it was interesting to watch the evolution of the relationship between the Duke, Selden, and Chassim. Again, Robin Hobb took this story in new and unforeseen directions.

The pace can be a bit uneven here and there, as various storylines must move forward so they can be brought together for the finale. Problem is, sometimes it feels as though too much focus is put on a particular plotline, to the detriment of another which at times can feel a bit rushed. Still, Hobb closes the show with a bang and leaves the door wide open for yet more adventures. With the dragons ready to take back their rightful place in the world, with the Elderlings in constant evolution, with the discovery of Kelsingra, and with the changing political landscape between Chalced, the Rain Wilds, and the Six Duchies, it appears that Robin Hobb still has plenty of tales to tell! Perhaps we'll even see Fitz again. . .

Here's to hoping that her publishers will stop taking advantage of the author's fans by splitting her future novels into unnecessary installments. . .

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

8 commentaires:

Unknown said...

Salut Pat,

I don't know if it's the same in the littérature industry but in the gaming one, if a Publisher don't give you earlier access to the material, even if you are a leader in your sphere, it smells really bad.


Narg said...

Fred, being a leader in your "sphere" doesn't entitle you to anything. The fact that Pat felt the need to call the publisher out imo "smells bad".

Patrick said...

Not really, guys. These last couple of years, most publishers have been trying to save on shipping costs.

Which means that many of them won't ship to Canada anymore. It began with UK publishers, with only one of the major players now shipping stuff regularly to me.

But since last year, a few American publishers also decided to cut back on shipping "internationally."

You have no idea how some authors, most of them relatively well-known, have to go through crap to have their editors/publicists send me their books. . .

Anonymous said...

"You have no idea how some authors, most of them relatively well-known, have to go through crap to have their editors/publicists send me their books."

This is a scary development. One day -God forbid!- you actually might have to buy the books yourself! What a scandalous idea.

Bryce L. said...

I read it as, Robin Hobb was awesome enough to send her book not as a publisher shaming.

Unknown said...

Good to know. As I see, publishers tend to send copies to the big media that won't even talk about them... Pretty much the same I saw few years back.

Sometimes, I hope that'll change and authors will be able to bypass publishers... I would rather give my money directly to the authors than budgetize some PR events.

Anonymous said...

If you want a real ripoff, take a look at David Wingrove's Chung Kuo epic. While there might be two new novels as a prequel and a rewrite of the last book, all the others are being re-released in two volumes when the originals barely filled 500-600 pages.

I'll bet JK Rowling's publishers are kicking themselves they didnt release the last Harry Potter book in two parts.Then again, JK seems to be a lady with integrity. - Ian

Unknown said...

Oh, I never heard of that one, Chung Kuo, I'll take a look, thanks!