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City of Dragons: Volume III: The Rain Wild Chronicles
Robin Hobb
HarperVoyager, 352 pages

Robin Hobb
Robin Hobb, aka Megan Lindholm, was born in California in 1952. At the age of about 9 she moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where she graduated from high school. Later, after a brief stint at the University of Denver where she majored in Mass Communications, she married and moved back up to Alaska, where she started writing under her maiden name. She started publishing her short stories about twenty years ago in small magazines. Shortlisted for the 1989 Nebula Awards in the categories of novella ("A Touch of Lavender" -- also a 1990 Hugo Award nominee) and novelette ("Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man"), she was also nominated for the Nebula for her short story "Cut." She lives in Tacoma, Washington.

Robin Hobb Website
ISFDB Bibliography: Robin Hobb
ISFDB Bibliography: Megan Lindholm
SF Site Review: Dragon Haven
SF Site Review: The Dragon Keeper
SF Site Review: Renegade's Magic
SF Site Review: Shaman's Crossing
SF Site Review: The Golden Fool
SF Site Review: Fool's Errand
SF Site Review: Mad Ship
SF Site Review: Ship of Magic
SF Site Review: The Farseer Trilogy
SF Site Review: The Farseer: Assassin's Quest
SF Site Review: The Farseer: Royal Assassin

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dominic Cilli

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City of Dragons Robin Hobb's latest work is the third volume in The Rain Wild Chronicles is entitled City of Dragons. If you read my review of Dragon Haven, you will know I felt her last book wasn't anywhere close to being her strongest effort. However with City of Dragons, Robin Hobb has seen a return to form. I think most of her fans will agree City of Dragons is her strongest effort in years and did well to remind me why Robin Hobb is among this genre's finest authors.

The story takes up with the crew of the liveship Tarman having reached its destination of the lost city of Kelsingra. After successfully navigating up the Rain Wild River, Captain Leftrin has delivered his cargo of dragons, keepers, and hunters and has embarked on his return voyage to Cassarick to collect on his contract and resupply for his return voyage to his beloved Alise and Kelsingra. Meanwhile, Thymara and the rest of the keepers are still struggling in their duties as dragon keepers to service and feed their dragons. The dragons are still far from being fully developed and the keepers are continuing their transformation into Elderlings. The entire expedition are all encamped across the Rain Wild River unable to reach their ultimate destination of Kelsingra because of the lack of any land-based approach or a proper place for the Tarman to moor. The only access to the city for Alise and the others is on the back of the tiny little dragon Heeby.

Although, I didn't find Dragon Haven to be an overly compelling novel, when I finished reading City of Dragons it became apparent to me that the extra time and care Hobb spent fleshing out those characters in the previous novel really pay off in City of Dragons. With the relationships and conflicts firmly in place, Hobb is able to move the plot forward effortlessly and each of the various plot threads remain tenderly wrought without suffering from the melodrama that plagued Dragon Haven. If you couple that with a richly detailed setting, a strong sense of continuity and fully formed characters, you have the recipe for a wonderful fantasy novel and that is exactly what City of Dragons is.

The only real problem I found with City of Dragons is that it seems to be more like half a book than a full novel. At 334, the page count is quite light and the novel's ending isn't neatly done therefore giving it that incomplete feeling. But to be fair, "book-splitting" seems to be becoming more and more common these days and seems to be affecting the entire fantasy genre, so I can't fault Hobb. I just chalk it up to capitalism. After all, why should the publishing house sell one 700 page book when they can sell two 350 page books? In that sense, City of Dragons needed a better place to end or needed about 400 more pages to finish. As it is, nearly nothing gets fully resolved and you'll probably be infuriated that you won't be able to simply continue the story. You and I will have to wait until Blood of Dragons comes out next year to satisfy our appetites and further deplete pocketbooks.

Copyright © 2012 Dominic Cilli

When asked to write a third-person tag line for his reviews, Dominic Cilli farmed the work out to an actual 3rd person, his friend Neal, who in turn turned it over to a second person who then asked his third cousin to help out and this person whom Dom doesn't even know then wrote in 8th person Omniscient mode "Dom's breadth of knowledge in literature runs the gamut and is certainly not bounded by the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. One thing I can say with certainty is that of all the people I don't know who've ever recommended books to read, Dom's recommendations are the best.


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