Monday, 27 October 2008

Review: The Soldier's Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb

An odd thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was out and about when I found myself with 10 minutes to spare. Why not pop in the bookshop and see what they had to offer. I found the final two books of the Soldier's Son trilogy - the first book had languished on my bookshelf under a self-imposed ban until I got the final two. With a widening grin I grabbed both of them and started the trilogy that night.

It should be said I've been a huge fan of Robin Hobb, I love her other trilogies and have waited for the final books to come out. It was worth it.
The writing style is immersive as always, and builds a believable world for the main protagonist, Nevare Burvelle, to run around in. The rich details of his life and the amazing twists and turns it takes are vividly rendered by Hobb's superb narrative. Writing from the first person perspective must be challenging at times, without the ability to jump to another place or time and fill in the back story, but Hobb does it well and as the character learns key events, his perception of what is happening fills the story for us.
Something I've always been opposed to in fantasy books has been guns and normally I avoid them when they come up with it. This book, however, includes them in a very natural way, combining the chivarly of the Knighthood with the tactics of long rifles and clutch pistols. The "Old" nobles and the "New" nobles show the changes in the society and the effect the new technology is having - but all told, it's the magic of the world and the Old Gods that have the true control. Hobb's weaving of these elements is superb and there were several long nights where I read until the wee hours, drawn so deeply into the tale that I forgot what time it was and only surrendered to sleep when my eyes stopped focusing. In my view that's the sign of a damn good book.
I was very pleased to note that the series wound everything up at the end. I was able to put the final book down with great satisfaction and knowledge that the story - or rather the bulk of the exciting stuff - was pretty well finished. There have been several other writers out there (Robert Jordan I'm looking at you) who leave things hanging at the end of a 600 page book and you wonder what is to happen next, will there be more or not? The Soldier's Son trilogy has none of that and wraps up wonderfully. I read for enjoyment and this series certainly provided that. Bravo Robin Hobb - I look forward to your next books with great anticipation.

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