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Dragon Haven
Robin Hobb
HarperCollins Eos, 528 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: 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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Dragon Haven Robin Hobb's latest work is the second volume of The Rain Wild Chronicles titled Dragon Haven. It picks up right where the first volume, The Dragon Keeper, left off. We find the crew of the Tarman escorting a group of dragons, along with their keepers and hunters, up the Rain Wild River in search of the lost city of Kelsingra. Along the way... well, nothing much happens. It's not exactly true, but it may as well be. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that if you are a reader who is looking for an action-packed adventure full of thrills, look elsewhere. However, if you're the type of reader who is looking for a novel that is deeply focused on the characters, their friendships, conflicts and love interests then you are really going to enjoy Dragon Haven.

Dragon Haven is very much a story that doesn't have to focus itself too much on plot twists or world-building (the world is already extremely well-defined if you are familiar with her previous works, namely The Liveship Traders and The Farseer Trilogy) but on character development. Whether this is a good thing or a bad depends on the reader. Anyone who is familiar with Hobb knows the woman writes great characters. It has always been Hobb's strong suit and nothing about Dragon Keeper has changed that. However, this novel plays out more like an episode of All My Children than an example of high fantasy. The relationships between Alise and Captain Leftrin, Sedric and Carson (yes, both males), Thymara and Tats along with the keepers and their dragons predominate the text, leaving little room for much else, including advancing the storyline. As the group travels up the Rain Wild River, a massive flood separates the party into smaller groups, giving these relationships a chance to flourish and develop. All of them are all extremely well written and quite touching, if that's the kind of thing you are into. Personally, I thought the novel needed a little more.

This was easily the most difficult review I have had to write since joining the staff at SFSite. To begin with, I am a big Robin Hobb fan and really enjoyed the first part of The Rain Wild Chronicles along with the rest of her work. Dragon Haven is a well-written novel that is filled with the sense of joy and wonder that one feels when falling in love. However, it isn't enough to allow me to recommend Dragon Haven. I feel this is easily Robin Hobb's weakest effort to date, but let's put that into proper perspective. Robin Hobb's weakest effort is still going to be better than most authors' tour de force. I shudder when I think about how many best-selling authors out there (I won't mention any names) sell novels in droves that aren't half as well written as The Dragon Keeper and here I am semi-bashing one of my favorite authors and pitying myself for living the life of a literary critic. Finally, without trying to stereotype too much, I think women are going to enjoy Dragon Haven a lot more than men will. It's not unusual for a male or female author to focus their work to members of the same sex. However, this is the first time I have ever thought this about Hobb's writing. I have a hunch that she based the character of Alise on herself and she is in love in real life. (This is just an educated guess based on my familiarity with her work. I could easily be wrong.) If for some reason you are reading this article and you are unfamiliar with Robin Hobb, I wouldn't hesitate in running to the bookstore and exploring her work. All of it is outstanding and worthy of exploring. I would start with The Farseer Trilogy and just keep reading them in order; Dragon Haven isn't a good place to start.

Copyright © 2010 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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