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Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
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Dragon Keeper (2010)

by Robin Hobb

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1,986735,078 (3.82)124
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Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Dragon Keeper is the first book in the Rain Wilds series, which is the fourth subseries in the larger Realms of the Elderlings series. It’s the first book that I hadn’t read previously, and I really enjoyed being in new territory within this world.

The story starts off a little slow with the author introducing her characters and letting the reader become a part of their lives before all the action starts. Not that this book ever gets really heavy on the action, but the tension does build and there is plenty of stuff going on. I enjoyed it from the beginning, but my interest grew as the story progressed. There is no ending or sense of closure whatsoever. There isn’t a huge cliffhanger, but nothing was resolved and there were several things that happened near the end that left me anxious to find out what would happen next. I was already planning to read the series back-to-back anyway, but I finished the book too late last night to start the next one, so I’m going to have to wait aaaallll the way until I get home from work today before I can continue the story!

The format is similar to that of the Liveship Traders in that it’s told from the third-person perspective with a variety of POVs. I think the characters in this series may be the least likeable of all the series so far. They’re certainly flawed. There was only one POV character that I liked without reservation (Thymara), although I did also like several of the secondary characters. My opinions and sympathies for the other POV characters fluctuated a lot as we learned more about them and as I saw them through different characters’ eyes including their own.

My edition had a character list at the beginning of the book, so I read that first thinking it would be immediately relevant. It actually represented several things that didn’t happen until quite a bit later, so I had some regret over reading it. Not all of the names stuck in my head after reading the list, but a few did and it spoiled some of the suspense I might have had otherwise about how certain things would turn out. It wasn’t anything major, but I think it would have been better placed at the end of the book and at the beginning of the second book to serve as a review. The characters were easy to keep straight without the list anyway.

I have several rambling and spoilerish comments for the spoiler tags…
I thought the story really picked up once the dragon keepers were identified and the expedition got underway. I enjoyed it from the beginning, but that was when I really got wrapped up in it.

Alise is a sympathetic character to some extent, but she was really frustrating to me. She was naïve and weak-willed. She did at least assert herself on occasion, but it was usually in the form of an emotional outburst rather than a logically-reasoned argument, and that put her at a disadvantage to some of her adversaries. I was so mad at her when she confronted Hest about his infidelity and told him what her “proof” was. First, she should have waited until she had more tangible proof, because she didn’t have anything that couldn’t be easily explained away. Second, she never should have told him what her proof was when she confronted him because that made it easy for him to shoot it down. And of course she proved her ignorance even before that by using a female pronoun. If she had been vague enough to leave him worrying about what she knew, he might have made mistakes or been more manipulatable.

I also couldn’t identify with Alise’s attitude that her only options in life were an unwanted marriage or being a burden on her family for the rest of her life. She did finally ask herself why she had believed that, many pages after I had already been asking it. I could see how her upbringing and her experience made it difficult for her to consider other options, and I’ve known people like her, but it’s an attitude that really goes against my grain.

Sedric… ugh. In the beginning I wanted to see him as a sympathetic character because at least he seemed to have some compassion for Alise, even if he was partly responsible for her problems and too much of a coward to tell her the truth. I disliked him more and more as the story progressed. Occasionally I would start to feel a little sympathy for him again, but then it would be ripped away shortly thereafter. I hated him by the end, when he wounded a sick dragon to get blood and scales to sell. I am curious though to see what the repercussions of his tasting the dragon blood will be, and which dragon’s thoughts he heard in his mind at the end there.

I’m curious if anything will come of the letters between the Keepers of the Birds in terms of the larger plot, or if those sections just serve as a way to keep the reader informed of the larger events back in Bingtown and Treehaug that we would otherwise be ignorant of with no POV characters there.
( )
1 vote YouKneeK | Dec 11, 2018 |
I got half way through the book and could not force myself to finish it. I tried, I really did. ( )
  SuziQBird | May 9, 2018 |
3.5 stars.

I remembered, when I first read this book a while ago, that I didn't especially like it. And while I still don't think this book is a masterpiece in Robin Hobb's standards, I did enjoy it. The characters were vibrant and colorful, and so different from each other; I really liked to see each of them from different perspectives. I feel like this was only the beginning, and as such was onteresting, rather informative and not very heavy on any kind of plot - but I'm greatly awaiting the continuation of this series. ( )
  UDT | May 1, 2018 |
It has been years since I read a dragon fantasy book & this one was good ... except it ended as an episode and now I have to find the next book to find out what happens next! I particularly got a chuckle from the little inter-chapter exchanges between the bird keepers. My first Robin Hobb, but not my last. ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
Dragon Keeper is the first in the Rain Wilds Chronicles by Robin Hobb and tenth in her greater Realm of the Elderlings series. While you can probably enjoy the story regardless, I recommend to have read the Liveship Traders prior to starting this book as this series is a direct follow up to those events and many things from those books are referenced with the idea that the reader is already in the know. So far there is no impact from the Farseer Trilogy at all and only one minor relation to the very end of the Tawny Man series which you can probably skip too and still understand the whole story no problem. Without further ado...

It has been many years since Tintaglia saved Bingtown and struck a deal with the Traders to protect the newly hatched dragons. Tintaglia has vanished and the Traders are having trouble with keeping up their end of the bargain. The new dragons were too old when they cocooned as serpents and born too early, hatching weak and deformed. Many did not survive their first year. Those who did are becoming a menace, hampering efforts to excavate a buried Elderling city and costing a fortune to upkeep. There is only one solution: the dragons must be relocated somewhere else. Anywhere else. A crew of keepers are hired to help herd the dragons upriver to the mythical city of Kelsingra. Legends say Kelsingra was the home of dragons and Elderlings in ages past. Does it still exist? Can dragons and keepers survive such a journey?

This book is all about setting the stage for remainder of the series. The first two thirds of the book are spent in character building and Robin Hobb is an expert at it. We are introduced to a large cast though the story is told primarily from four points of view. Alise Finbok is in a marriage of convenience with Trader Hest Finbok. Their relationship leaves a lot to be desired. She's a self proclaimed dragon expert and has dedicated herself to learning everything she can about the creatures. She negotiates a trip to visit the hatchlings to learn about dragons directly from the source. Sent with her as her secretary/guardian is Hest's right hand man, Sedrec Meldar. To say that Sedrec is unhappy about this arrangement is an understatement. While grudgingly accepting this horrible duty he decides to put the trip to good use and has a nefarious plan of his own to try and gather dragon parts as they're worth a fortune. Leftrin is captain of the oldest known liveship, Tarman. He and his crew are hired to assist with the dragon's relocation and will be loaded down with supplies for the keepers and hunters that have signed on for the journey. Sintara, also known as Skymaw, is one of the new dragons. She is frustrated by her and her kin's malformed bodies and taunted by ancestral memories of what a dragon is supposed to be. She is paired with Thymara as a keeper. Thymara is heavily touched by the Rain Wilds. Thymara grew up knowing she should not have existed, being born with claws instead of fingers and toes, and jumps at the chance to join the expedition to make her own way in the world. Great care is taken to flesh out everyone's perspectives, backgrounds, motivations and dark little secrets. In addition to the main points of view, there are around 16 dragons total, 14 keepers, the rest of Tarman's crew and a few hunters hired on to help provide food for the dragons on their trip. It seems like a lot but ended up not being that bad to keep up with.

Again, the feeling of setting the stage is greatly apparent. The pacing is very slow. Just as the plot really gets going, it ends on a small bombshell that I imagine will have great impact to the rest of the series. It was great learning more about the Rain Wilds, an area hinted at but not really encountered in depth before. My heart really went out to the dragons and their keepers. Both groups are the rejects of society. I hope this journey helps them to rise above their circumstances. But it's a Robin Hobb book so there will definitely be more hardships ahead. It's a good set up and an interesting read. On to book two! ( )
2 vote Narilka | Oct 28, 2017 |
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Robin Hobbprimary authorall editionscalculated
Morris, JackieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the memory of Spot and Smokey, Brownie-butt and Rainbow, Rag-bag and Sinbad. Fine pigeons, one and all.
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They had come so far, yet now that she was here, the years of journeying were already fading in her mind, giving way to the desperate needs of the present.
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Book description
After many years, dragons have hatched again outside the ancient city of Cassarick. But something is wrong with the creatures; each is inferior or weak in some way, and many die. Tending these stunted dragons has left the people of the surrounding area weary. The Traders Council, the city's leadership, fears that if the Rain Wilders stop providing for the young dragons, the hungry and neglected creatures will rampage and destroy Cassarick. To avert catastrophe, the council rules to relocate the young dragons to "a better location" up river, and residents are recruited to escort the valuable yet fearsome creatures on the arduous journey. Among them are Thymara, an unschooled Rain Wilds girl of sixteen, and Alise, a wealthy, educated, and deeply unsatisfied Bingtown Trader's wife.

Witnessed from the viewpoints of these two very different women, Dragon Keeper tells the story of this disparate band of humans and dragons as they make their way along the toxic and inhospitable Rain Wild River in search of their new home---the ancient, long-lost city of Kelsingra.

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Trader's wife Alise and young Thymara join the caravan traveling up the toxic and inhospitable Rain Wild River, with the aim of relocating weakened dragons from outside their home town of Cassarick to the long-lost city of Kelsingra.

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