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Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb
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Renegade's Magic (2007)

by Robin Hobb

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Soldier Son Trilogy (3)

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English (23)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Reviewing the whole Soldier Son trilogy in one review, since it's one ongoing story.
(Shaman's Crossing, Forest Mage, and Renegade's Magic)
I consider myself to be a fan of Robin Hobb. I've read everything published under her name, with the exception of the two most recent 'Dragon' novels. I've given every single on of those books 4 or 5 stars. I've also read about half of what she's published as Megan Lindholm, and loved most of that as well.
Unfortunately, I feel that the Soldier Son trilogy is her least successful work to date.
It's not terrible, but it didn't hold up to my high expectations.

I think that part of this is that while her previous epics have shown the reader a rich tapestry of a world, with multiple important characters and settings, this story follows one person, Navare (the Soldier Son) for over 2000 pages. And, to be honest, he's rather a tiresome person. I don't demand that characters be likable, but I just didn't find him interesting. He's a bit of an annoying prig. I wished that some of the more minor characters in the book had been fleshed out more, and that we had a chance to see things from their point of view. (Epiny! And her magic! It just gets dropped...) The third book is largely concerned with the conflicts of Navare's suddenly-split-personality. It's him arguing with himself for hundreds of pages. (Tiresome vs. annoying!) I feel like it's partly because other characters weren't developed enough.

The story also moves very slowly. I felt like Navare's journey could have been condensed into one book, one-third of the length, and it would have been improved. I love long books, but this story seemed to have two main themes: the problems of cultural imperialism, and the importance of not judging people based on their physical appearance. Now, these are two very valid and important themes, but part of the reason that I do really like long books is that they have room in them for lots and lots of different ideas and themes. Not just two, repeated frequently. I also felt that these two themes weren't dealt with very satisfactorily: OK, it's bad and wrong to disrespect another culture, regard them as primitive when they aren't, and to destroy their native lands. I'm with that. It's also inevitable that, due to economic and other factors, peoples move, expand, and come into conflict with each other, bringing about cultural change. I also agree that is true. So the solution? Cause an economic distraction somewhere else causing everyone to run off elsewhere. Eh, well, maybe. Not terrible, but not really a full analysis of the problem, either.
However, I had a bigger problem with the other issue. After a million or so pages of Navare being prejudiced against because of his magically-induced obesity, and having it pointed out ad infinitum that what one culture may consider reprehensible and disgusting, another culture may respect, etc, the story ends up with Navare (again magically) being restored to his former thin, handsome appearance. It really undercuts the whole message of the book.

However, like I said before, it wasn't terrible. Hobb is still an excellent writer, and I did like that each of the cultures in the book was portrayed as having both positive and negative qualities. It was interesting and thoughtful enough to get me through all three very long volumes. It just wasn't as good as I'd expected. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This was, in many ways, a highly imaginative, good story. Not excellent because of its flaws, but the world & the problem were certainly outstanding & that's why she got 3 stars from an otherwise 2 star, at best, job of writing. Modeled after the European expansion across North America, yet set in a fantasy world with very interesting magic. A man caught between the 2 worlds loves/hates them both & must make them come to an agreement. He's literally a man divided by this war, yet stuck in one body. The whole fat thing is perfect.

This was the final book in the trilogy & I'm glad it's over. It could have been an excellent stand alone if Hobb had the skills of Zelazny or Delaney. As it is, she seems to think her readers are complete idiots & needed every point mentioned & then repeated, often multiple times. That sort of thing doesn't bug me quite as much when reading as I can skim it. Listening to it is pure torture, though. At times, it read like a serialized story giving a synopsis of the back story just in case the reader hadn't read the earlier issue. Yes, it was that bad.

She finally told us why Nevare (sp? the hero.) is such an idiot, in case it wasn't obvious, but he remains one. This device was used to explain, in excruciating, repetitious detail, every move that was made. As it was, it wasn't done well enough to be convincing & it didn't help the ending any. It would have been a better book if it had ended about halfway through with his death. The whole balance thing wasn't worth the extra page count & always felt as if it was tacked on afterward.

Some of this fluff isn't all Hobb's fault. It can't be. A decent editor would have called her on it. Since they didn't & I hear they want series now, I wonder if Hobb wasn't pushed into expanding a good story too far. If so, I hope she resists in the future but from what I've seen, she seems partial to trilogies, so this is probably all I'll ever read of Hobb's work. I had hoped this was an early trilogy, but she'd been published for a decade when this came out so I won't subject myself to her writing again, especially not as an audio book. Reading a book aloud shows off the writing very well. Good writing becomes almost lyrical, but each mistake or bit of repetition is painfully obvious.

This was an audio book by Recorded Books, read by John Keating. He'll never be my favorite reader, but isn't bad. His British accent for regular narration isn't bad, but everyone except Nevare & his family spoke with a Scottish accent. There was no difference between a Speck & an outlander Gurnian. Kind of weird, but not too bad to listen to for me.
( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Younger son,fantasy,weight
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
Most of this book didn't impress me very much. I thought it could have been cut down a lot, and made more interesting just by that. I thought that the resolution to it all got so painfully obvious by about two hundred and fifty pages in that anything more was simply labouring the point.

But.

The last one hundred and fifty pages or so were brilliant. Things came together, and you could finally see how everything was meant to work out. Everything suddenly made a lot more sense, and characterisations -- I'm mostly referring to Nevare's father -- became much more satisfying to me. Points that I'd thought were a little irrelevant made a lot more sense and contributed to the story.

The end left me with a very positive view of the book, whereas in the middle I'd been getting quite tired of the dithering and the mistakes that kept being made. The same thing happened with [b:Forest Mage|45106|Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2)|Robin Hobb|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170273737s/45106.jpg|2469], actually. Robin Hobb has a knack with writing satisfying endings. I think the pacing in her more recent work needs tidying up, but the end of this trilogy makes me think something I'll find as good as Farseers might be along soon. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Hobbprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, JackieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060757647, Hardcover)

The final book in the brand new trilogy from the author of the Tawny Man and Farseer trilogies, following on from the bestselling Shaman’s Crossing and Forest Mage.The people of Getty's town remember the death of their cemetery soldier vividly. They remember believing him guilty of unspeakable crimes, condemning him, and then watching as other men of his unit beat him until he no longer drew breath.But Nevare Burvelle didn't die that day, though everyone believes they saw it happen. He was cornered by a power far more intractable than any angry mob.When he was a boy, the magic of the Specks – the dapple-skinned tribes of the frontier forests – claimed Nevare as a saviour; severing his soul in two, naming his stolen half Soldier's Boy and shaping him into a weapon to halt the Gernian expansion into their lands and save their beloved ancestor trees.Until now Nevare has defied the magic, unable to accept his traitorous fate. But the magic has won: it has extinguished his once golden future, devastated his family and has now turned his own people against him. Faced with endangering the only loved-ones he has left, Nevare has no choice but to surrender to its will and enter the forest.But surrendering to his Speck destiny is only the beginning of his trials. Before he submits completely, Nevare makes one desperate last attempt to deter the Gernians from the Barrier Mountains without causing them harm. But the magic accepts no compromise. Exhausted, Nevare can no longer suppress his traitorous Speck self, Soldiers Boy. Losing control, he becomes a prisoner in his own body; able only to watch helplessly as his other half takesSoldier's Boy is determined to stop the Gernian expansion at all cost, and unlike Nevare, he has no love, nor sympathy for his spirit-twin's world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:21 -0400)

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"Loyal, privileged, and brave, Nevare Burvelle proudly embraced his preordained role as soldier in the service of the King of Gernia - unaware of the strange turns his life would ultimately take. Exposed to a plague of enemy sorcery that felled many of his compatriots, he prevailed, but at a terrible cost to his soul, body, and heart. Now he stands wrongly accused of unspeakable crimes - including murder, the most heinous of them all." "Condemned by his brother soldiers and sentenced to death, Nevare has no option but to escape. Suddenly he is an outcast and a fugitive - a hostage to the Speck magic that shackles him to a savage alter ego who would destroy everything Nevare holds dear. With nowhere to turn - except, perhaps, to the Speck woman Lisana, the enemy whom he loves - he is mired in soul-rending despair. But from out of the darkness comes a bright spark of hope.""Perhaps, somehow, the hated magic that has long abused Nevare can be used by him instead. Could he not learn to wield this mighty weapon for his own purposes rather than be enslaved by it? But down what perilous road will this desperate new quest lead him? And what will be the outcome and the ultimate new incarnation of Nevare Burvelle?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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