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Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles, Vol. 1) Mass Market Paperback – September 25, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 404 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In a novel as good as it is massive, the first of two Rain Wilds Chronicles...Hobb continues to occupy a perch at or near the top among contemporary fantasists. This book is imaginative, literate, and compassionate from first page to last.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Hobb does an admirable job of creating a complex and engaging medieval fantasy world …with originality and subtlety [she handles] such traditional fantasy elements as dragons and magical items…A nicely imagined fantasy setting that will engage readers and raise anticipation for the second installment. (Kirkus Reviews)

“Hobb’s meticulously realized fantasy tale is a welcome addition to contemporary dragon lore.” (Publishers Weekly)

From the Back Cover

Too much time has passed since the powerful dragon Tintaglia helped the people of the Trader cities stave off an invasion of their enemies. The Traders have forgotten their promises, weary of the labor and expense of tending earthbound dragons who were hatched weak and deformed. If neglected, the creatures will rampage—or die—so itis decreed that they must move farther upriver toward Kelsingra, the mythical homeland whose location is locked deep within the dragons’ uncertain ancestral memories.

Thymara, an unschooled forest girl, and Alise, wife of an unloving and wealthy Trader, are among the disparate group entrusted with escorting the dragons to their new home. And on an extraordinary odyssey with no promise of return, many lessons will be learned—as dragons and tenders alike experience hardships, betrayals...and joys beyond their wildest imaginings.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061561657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061561658
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (404 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Usually when there are dragons reintroduced into a fantasy world, they end up being strong, smart, beautiful, and all the rest of it.

But Robin Hobb examines a different idea: what if something hadn't gone quite right with the forming dragons? "Dragon Keeper: Volume One of the Rain Wilds" is a slow-moving, richly detailed book that builds on the past events of her last two trilogies, but introduces a rather different dilemma and radically different characters.

Five years ago, the dragon Tintaglia led a number of exhausted, half starved sea serpents to the Rain Wilds, and oversaw them going into their cocoons. But when they emerged, these new dragons were deformed and stunted in mind and body. Now Tintaglia has gone off with her new mate, leaving the hungry flightless dragons to be fed by the Rain Wilds people who are uncovering Cassarick -- and both dragons and humans are rapidly getting sick of this miserable arrangement.

So the dragons trick the humans into agreeing to take them to the ancient Elderling city of Kelsingra, along with several human keepers. Among those on the journey are the deformed locals including a girl named Thymara, and with an unhappily-married scholar named Alise. But can the strong personalities among the embittered dragons and their equally deformed keepers avoid clashes -- and who will make it up the river?

As dragoncentric books go, "Dragon Keeper" is pretty lacking in glamour. The dragons are stunted, petty, flea-bitten, muddy and fed on spoiled meat, and they live in a rainforesty region full of mud and acid rivers. Fun. The biggest problem is that "Dragon Keeper" goes SLOWLY -- it feels like somebody split one massive book in half, and that this is the first part before the plot really gets moving.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've read several other books by Robin Hobbs, and I've found her work hit and miss for me. This one has me sort of on the fence. I DID like it. Quite a bit, actually. Her world building is unique, interesting, and fraught with all sorts of problems--acid rivers, ancient volcanic eruptions, humans who are being changed into pseudo reptiles over teh generations in the Rain Wilds. Oh, and there are dragons with fertility problems and their offspring, who were born damaged. (How could you not like dragons, right?) It's compelling stuff, and her characters are also well drafted and very human in their foibles, fancies and troubles. The author displays her ability to handle complex plots and character growth issues while telling a story well. It's a solid start to a series.

My problem with it is perhaps only my personal preference, but I didn't like any of the characters except for Captain Leftrin and Alise...and she began to grate on me, too, near the end. The portrayal of the characters whose eyes we see through is realistically done, and they are extremely believable, even though I didn't like them. We have Hest, Alise's jerk of a husband; the arrogant-to-extreme dragon Sintara; Alise the abused wife finally out from under her husband's thumb; Captain Leftrin, who isn't a saint but is a real guy's guy and nice to boot; Thymara the Rain Wilds girl; and Sedric, the 'friend' accompanying Alise who is so shallow, selfish and two-faced I barely could stand reading his viewpoint. But I had a difficult time reading much of them, they were mostly so unlikeable to me, no matter how well written the story was.

And my final difficulty had to do with the pace. This book is SLOW MOVING.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book has great character writing, novel and interesting fantasy concepts, and what might be half of a plot. It's the first half of a "duology" set in the same world as Robin Hobb's Liveship and Tawny Man novels (with enough independence that it's intelligible to new readers like myself, and enough cameos and references to entertain readers of her prior books). Unfortunately, it reads like it's merely half a story, not one story out of a pair.

The basic tale, as billed on the jacket, is that a (flock? herd?) of baby dragons have hatched near a human city, but due to environmental pollution and other factors they are all disabled in one way or another, and when they start to present a danger to the city, a small group of humans is enlisted to help the dragons relocate to a more remote location. The first problem is that in a 470 page book, the first substantive meeting between the dragons and either one of the two major female protagonists comes on page 292. This book isn't the story of a journey; it's the story that starts the journey. Presumably, everyone will get somewhere in the second volume. Call me old-fashioned, but I liked it more when fantasy series made sure that each volume had a plot arc all its own -- this book felt more like the publisher had arbitrarily split an 800-page novel in the middle to maximize sales, rather than like one single 400-page story conceived and written as half of a pair.

That might not be a critical flaw, though, if you're reading for something other than plot. I'd never read Robin Hobb's novels before now, but had always heard they were excellently written, with strong and interesting characters and novel concepts. On those points, this book does deliver.
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