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This is the third and final instalment of the "Soldier Son" series by the acclaimed fantasy writer Robin Hobb. This volume picks up the story after the main character, Nevare, finally gives in to the magic that has been trying to control his body and his actions since he was a young boy and accidentally gave a part of himself to Speck people magic. He engineers leaving his old life in a way that he thinks will allow others to forget him and live on without him without too much disruption - he uses his magic to stop time for the people he knows and to instil false memories in them of his death, so that they believe him to be truly gone.
He flees to the forest where he tries to master the magic and use it as he thinks it wants to be used, only he messes up - and this allows the Speck side of him (that was given to the magic as a boy) to take over his consciousness and thus he surrenders entirely to the magic and the Speck people, becoming a Great Man and trying to turn his magic against his human former comrades.
We get to meet the Speck people in much more detail in this book and really get to know them, and although most of the series so far has been from the point of view of the human settlers and their battles against the Specks, it is very easy to be sympathetic to the Specks and why they are bringing plague to the humans as you soon come to see that their entire way of life is in danger.
Nevare, however, is still torn between the two people and makes some very difficult and very unsteady choices as a result.
This book, along with the rest of the trilogy, is not up to Hobb's usual exceptional standard in my opinion. I did really enjoy it, and if it was by another author I would probably be raving about it, but Hobb sets herself such high standards that it's sometimes easier to be a little disappointed by what is actually an excellent read! I was not 100% sure that the first person style worked entirely, though, and it was a little slow in places, and the characters were not quite as "jumping off the page" real as in some of her works. However, I would still recommend it to all fantasy fiction fans as it is something a little different and still an excellent read.
This is the third and final book in the Soldier Son trilogy by fantasy writer Robin Hobb. Renegades Magic continues the story from the previous book, Forest Mage. This book was released in July 2007 and was another big hit for the author who had now got many fans who enjoy her books. It had been a year for fans to wait to see how the story concludes so they were eager to get there teeth into this one.
So we left are main character Nevare in some pretty serious trouble in the last book. He had been accused of some pretty nasty things in the town of Gettys and the people there had killed him, or at least thought they had.
When Nevare was a boy a powerful magic created by the Speck people claimed half his soul. Now that magic is claiming Nevare. He has resisted the magic all this time but can no longer cope with its powerful force. Soldier Boy Nevare must now addapt to his new way of life, his new people and his new surrondings. Everythings changes for Nevare and he must learn to come to terms with that means.
This is another excellent book. I didn't enjoy at much as the second book. There are to many sections in this one where the things happening are a little hard to understand. But that said it's still an excellent story.
There is plenty going on in this book, the changes that come over the main character Nevare are very well described and we feel like we can feel the emotions Nevare must be going through. It's like were right there living his life along with him.
Hobb's unique style of writing really holds up well in this book. She gets you deep into the story so you are emotionally involved with the main characters. It's good that there are not to many storylines, as this would over complicate things, in this respect keeps it quite simple so its easy to follow.
I really liked this book and thought it was an excellent end to the series. Although I would say out of the three Robin Hobb trilogies I have read I probably enjoyed this one the least, however I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this sort of book.
Robin Hobb is one of my favorite authors now, and any books she releases in future I will be very keen to get my hands on and have a read!
Nevare Burvelle is dead; beaten to death by members of his own regiment for unspeakable crimes they mistakenly believed he had committed. His best friend from the Old Thares Military Academy, Spink, saw it all and was unable to stop them and the one person Nevare truly came to love was very nearly raped untill she managed to escape. In the wake of these events, the frontier town of Gettys has become a very changed place- full of disgust and despair at what the soldiers almost did and full of fear and distrust for the civillian women now afraid to walk the steets alone. Whats more the feelings of unease that emerge from the Speck's forest at the end of the King's Road have grown ever stronger and it is all most people can do to keep their own minds.
Yet all is not yet lost for Nevare is not truly dead; afraid that the magic would take all that he loved in it's bid to force him to it's will, the former soldier son has instead destroyed all that remained of his former life and cut all ties to his past so that he can succumb to the magic willingly and of his own accord. Finally accepting that this is his destiny and that he can avoid it no longer, Nevare has given up the pretence and gone to do as he was bid from the very beginning- work with the Speck people against those he calls his own.
In a last bid to resolve things peacefully before he leaves Gettys for good, Nevare expells much of the magic he has stored in one last ditch attempt to prevent the King's Road from going forward and it is then, as he lays exhausted and at deaths door for real, that the Speck half of his spirit created by Lisana the "Tree Woman" takes over him completely. "Soldier's Boy" as Nevare knows him is now in control and possesses none of the conscience or well wishes for his old people that Nevare had. Suddenly Nevare knows, the tide of the war between his people and the Specks is about to change and possibly not for the better of either race....
This is perhaps the strongest of the three books with, at last, the reader finally getting a real insight into the Specks, or Dappled Folk as they are known, with a long look at their culture, their life and what exactly makes them tick. For the first time we, and indeed Nevare, are able to better understand them and come to see perhaps part of the reason why they hate the Gernian people quite so much. It is a real and detailed look at the way in which two opposing cultures, neither of which truly intend any harm, can come to blows over something they both strongly believe in. Nevare himself is a man split in two - torn between these two cultures by the very nature of his tortued soul and it is only when he comes to the realisation that both his soldier-self and his speck-self must finally come together that the true nature of the magic's will becomes apparent.
Once again, Hobb has weaved a beautiful and poetic tale every bit as equal to her previous Farseer trilogies. This is just as good if not better as anything she has written before and truly makes her stand above any other writer of current modern fantasy fiction!!
There is also plenty of scope for other novels based in the same world again just as she returned to the world of the Farseers with The Liveship Traders absent of Fitz; both Varnia and Landsing are heavily referenced in this trilogy but very little is seen of their way of life otherwise. It would be very nice to see a new series written in the same world but from a different perspective perhaps looking at repercussions left from the war between Landsing and Gernia. Certainly the reader is left hoping that this is not the last we see of this world so intrinsically linked in so many subtle ways with our own.
Hobb's is an addictive style of writing that captures both the imagination and the heart of the reader, ensnaring them in a web of creativity from whence they cannot escape untill the final page. Her characters are so believable and the situations they become caught up in so powerfully tragic and world-changing that you the reader cannot help but be swept up in the story each and every time you turn the page. One of my all-time favourite authors, the hard part now is going to be waiting for the next thing she writes...