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Shaman's Crossing: Book One of The Soldier…

Shaman's Crossing: Book One of The Soldier Son Trilogy (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Robin Hobb

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2,520522,403 (3.4)63
Title:Shaman's Crossing: Book One of The Soldier Son Trilogy
Authors:Robin Hobb
Info:Eos (2006), Mass Market Paperback, 624 pages
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Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb (2005)

Recently added byjulieshedd, AltheaAnn, private library, chessakat, Ehhhhh, screendoor, GanneC, MagisterMirage



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Showing 1-5 of 50 (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 one 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 |
OMG SO BORING! I abandoned this after 150 pages or so. I simply have to accept that although I love some types of fantasy, I cannot stand epic fantasy (I also really disliked Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea series, but love her other stuff). Too slow. Not enough action of any kind, in any way. Blah. ( )
  chessakat | Feb 5, 2016 |
...Hobb's books have always attracted me because of the characterisation, but in this book it fails her to an extent. I did enjoy the novel a lot. I even think it is a little underappreciated. The themes Hobb addresses and her uses of a very non standard fantasy setting make it a noteworthy book. But almost six hundred pages of first person narrative with a main character who keeps thinking in circles, keeps denying change and keeps rationalising his society's sexism, prejudices and arrogance is a bit too much of a good thing. I liked the book well enough but I do see why it will never be a fan favourite.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | Jun 28, 2015 |
3.5 stars & I may round down to 3 after the next 2 books. The magic system was wonderful & Hobb does take proper care of horses. She even has the hero taking care of his tack, a major plus. Excellent world with an a defeated society that is expanding over new territory. Very realistic & well done.

I listened to it as an audio book with a good reader, but Hobb repeats herself enough that I wondered if the book was originally published as a serial. I don't think it was & she repeated herself even within sections until it drove me mad at times.

My biggest complaint with the writing was the heavy handed foreshadowing coupled with the idiot hero, though. Yes, he's sheltered & in his late teens, but his denseness was just too much & led to a lot of the problems I had with the writing. I often knew a lot of the story before it happened. Luckily, Hobb throws in enough twists that there was fresh material.

I've heard this was the best of the trilogy. I hope not. I'm going to try the second book & have my fingers crossed. If the repetition is less due to the world & it's problems being setup, it should be enjoyable. There's a lot of story left to be told.
( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Not what I expected from Hobb at all. An ambitious story that departs from fantasy traditions in so many ways. Instead of a quasi-feudal backdrop, we are set in a world that intertwines aspects from Victorian Europe with those of the opening of the American west and the fading traditions of nobility gone sour among knights errant. This all underpins a story that weaves together such political powder kegs as native rights, women's suffrage and the clash of old vs new money. While there are quiet references to magic, there is little actually evident in the world. The only events of note that rely on it happen in a mystical dream realm that neither we nor the characters themselves are entirely sure is real.

But I think that in her ambition to invent such a new and fertile world she forgot to include something crucial: a story. Things happen and conflict abounds but none of it engaged me particularly. I empathized with the hero well enough, but Hobb appears to have spent all her energy on aspects of his situation that didn't interest me and then glossed over the parts that I found potentially gripping.

Maybe it was the dreamworld stuff. I'm not a big fan of dreamscape magic. Or maybe it was the sometimes subtly discordant notes of male culture, duty, honor and, well, "guy culture" stuff that just didn't quite ring completely true to me. Writing about groups of young men training for the military and forced to cooperate while actually competing with each other is pretty ambitious psychological territory for a woman writer to tackle, no different than if I was to try to write about the she-politics at a debutante ball, and ballsy enough to do so from the perspective of a female character in the thick of the maneuvering.

Whatever the reason, this had more promise than was actually delivered. ( )
  Jefficus | Apr 25, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Hobbprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrano, ErvinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Caffeine and Sugar

my companions through many a
long night of writing

To Caffeine and Sugar, my companions through many a long night of writing.

The author would like to acknowledge and thank David Killingsworth for providning information and insight on several weighty matters. It was greatly appreciated.
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I remember well the first time I saw the magic of the Plainspeople.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060758287, Mass Market Paperback)

Nevare Burvelle was destined from birth to be a soldier. The second son of a newly anointed nobleman, he must endure the rigors of military training at the elite King's Cavella Academy—and survive the hatred, cruelty, and derision of his aristocratic classmates—before joining the King of Gernia's brutal campaign of territorial expansion. The life chosen for him will be fraught with hardship, for he must ultimately face a forest-dwelling folk who will not submit easily to a king's tyranny. And they possess an ancient magic their would-be conquerors have long discounted—a powerful sorcery that threatens to claim Nevare Burvelle's soul and devastate his world once the Dark Evening brings the carnival to Old Thares.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:29 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Serving his king during a time of realm expansion, nobleman's son Nevare Burvelle finds his promising career compromised by unexpected prejudice at the King's Cavalry Academy and the discovery that he is being rendered a pawn by the magical plains folk.… (more)

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