10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Die, Nevare, die!,
This review is from: Renegade's Magic: Book Three of The Soldier Son Trilogy (Mass Market Paperback)
Seriously, something's wrong when you're rooting for the protagonist to drop gloriously dead throughout the series. Why oh why couldn't the whole thing have been about Epiny? I would've enjoyed that...
Renegade's Magic, book III in the Soldier Son Trilogy, unfortunately doesn't solve many of the problems of the first two installments (i.e. slow pacing and a useless main character). It doesn't, however, introduce any new issues either. Hobb is still an excellent writer. Her prose never fails to transport me into whatever world she's writing about, her dialogue is fantastic, and her characterization, always a strong suit for her, is just as immaculate as anyone experienced with her work would expect.
All of these things the book has going for it. But oh, Nevare, Nevare...
Hobb generally manages to include at least one good male character, from Captain Kennit in Liveship Traders to Fitz in the Assassin books. Okay, as time has gone on, her female characters generally tend to outshine them, but they've still remained at least readable...up until now. Nevare Burvelle is a bland, whiny, uncharismatic moron. He sighs, sobs, and whimpers his way through three novels, maddeningly unwilling to act on or even recognize what the reader sees to be obvious. He's everything that Fitz was threatening to become in Tawny Man, and while, this being Hobb, it's not actively bad...it's inescapably just boring.
Irritatingly, the reason for Nevare's faults is generally the same as the reason for Fitz's in Tawny Man...and, actually, it's even hinted at being the reason for a few of Kennit's in Liveship Traders. So...may I just take this opportunity to say...ENOUGH with the split souls already, Ms. Hobb. It was an interesting experiment the first time around, and I was actually very impressed by how you managed to eliminate certain characteristics from your protagonist. But I found it very hard to keep reading about a protagonist I not only didn't admire but actively disliked. There's only so far the godliness of the debut trilogy can keep us reading before we all just get fed up. If we MUST continue to see the soul-cut-in-half trope recur, can the hero of the next one at least end up getting the extroverted and action-oriented tendencies for once?
I think that's really it: it's rare that my opinion of a book is as simple as this, but it really is a simple divide this time.
I love the world, I love the supporting characters, I love the idea, and I adore Hobb's prose.
But I simply cannot find it in myself to like the protagonist. Call me shallow, but when I read a trilogy of books, I generally want at the very least a character I can endure, at best a character I admire in some way. Nevare is impossible to admire in almost any respect, intentionally constructed that way. And while I can admire the craft and artistry put into creating such a protagonist, while I can appreciate what Hobb has done with the elements of characterization, I still can't figure out WHY she had to do this not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. Arguably, Kennit doesn't deserve the same severity as the rest of them, so let's exclude him. Still...she's DONE THIS BEFORE. WHY do it again? I can't figure that out. Creating an unlikable lead is an interesting idea, but it's basically an ego project, done simply to show off her skill and cleverness more than to give the reader a good time.
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I just think that's a little backwards.