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Shaman's Crossing: Book One of The Soldier Son Trilogy Mass Market Paperback – August 29, 2006

3.4 out of 5 stars 218 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Soldier Son Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nevare Burvelle is the second son of the New Lord Burvelle of the East. Destined and trained from birth to be a soldier, it's all he knows. His one dream is to do his duty and be a good soldier. In this captivating tale of a world where honor, obedience and a thoughtless adherence to rules have prevailed for generations, Hobb (The Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies) pits Nevare's beliefs against an unseen, unknown chaos that will transform his world. Nevare, through no fault of his own, becomes an agent of change and a pawn in the magical struggle of the Plainspeople against the hide-bound and selfishly destructive Gernians. Hobb excels at constructing worlds and people who are fully fleshed out. The pace is more leisurely than in previous books, but the build-up of suspense reverberates throughout the pages, pulling the reader relentlessly forward. Here is a master storyteller out to make a point and succeeding beautifully.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A big, splendid novel opens the Soldier Son trilogy. Nevare Burville has spent some time as a cavalry officer on the kingdom of Gernia's frontier, engaged in expanding it against the wild nomads of the plains. He has been successful as a soldier, he is happily engaged, and he is the scion of one of the new noble families. Unfortunately, now he has to complete his military education at the King's Cavalry Academy, which is dominated by scions of the old nobility, who have no use for upstarts like Nevare. Also, it appears that Nevare has been too long within range of the powerful magic of the shamans of the western tribes, and their influence has converted him into a sort of sorcerous Typhoid Mary--and he may not be the only one. The consequences for Nevare personally are grim, and for Gernia potentially grimmer, if a way to fight the "barbarian" magic isn't extracted from civilized knowledge. Oh yes, Hobb's characterization, especially anent the ethical dilemmas, and world building are again superb. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Soldier Son Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; 7/30/06 edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060758287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060758288
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Hobb's other books, but I avoided reading this book for a while due to the negative reviews I read here. But I finally decided to try it, and I just finished it last night, having stayed up four hours past my bedtime to do so.

The main criticisms that other reviewers have brought up so far have been that the book is slow and dull, that nothing really happens, that it's only a setup novel, and that the main character, Nevare, is uninteresting. I find none of these to be true. Actually, based on the negative reviews, while reading the book I kept expecting to get bored or bogged down. I didn't. In almost every chapter there's something happening, something changing, something moving forward. You'd have to be blind not to see it.

Other reviewers have remarked on Nevare's lack of uniqueness. I really do not understand this. Sure, there's the distinct absence of a stereotypical prophecy saying that he's destined to save the world, but there's no dearth of interesting things about Nevare. One reviewer said that "Nevare does not question his society, his role, his society's racism or destructive policies; he is as stuffy as most of his kind." Another noted that he is "shallow and accepts things as they come." I must disagree. I feel that there is tension in Nevare's personality stemming from his being disgusted with the state of affairs (e.g. the way Plainspeople are treated; the destruction of the forest), and not understanding why things are the way they are, yet being commanded by people he respects to accept those things.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a solid Robin Hobb fan and was thrilled when I found that she had a new trilogy out....and I read this book, cover to cover, with no skimming even when I hit the parts that did actually bore me - something I never thought Hobb could do - because her incredible descriptive abilities are almost mesmerizing and hold me glued to the page....even when a voice in my brain is screaming, "is she going to go through the bit about soldier's sons and noble's sons one more time?!" She must have gone over and over several issues pertinent to the story as though this were the second book in a trilogy and she needed to keep reminding you of this...that, or she thinks her readers are incapable of remembering the basic relationships on which her story is based (duh!)...it borders on insulting at times, Robin!

I think that the repetitiveness throughout the book is what causes a lot of the slowness and dryness and sense of boredom that prior reviewers complain of....there is simply no reason to keep repeating over...and over...and over....and over.....how the battle lord's sons and noble's soldier sons differ.

While this certainly isn't the most interesting of Hobb's worlds I've lived in......it is crafted as fully....and drew me in as completely....and that is what I look for in a book....to go somewhere different, have some different experiences and marvel at how someone can think up all that!
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Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Robin Hobb's books and have noticed that all of her series tend to start out with a whimper and end with a bang. I read "Assassin's Apprentice" back when it first came out and was unimpressed. It was only years later when I went back and was able to read the entire Farseer series in one sweep that I became a diehard Hobb fan.

"Shaman's Crossing" is a setup book. It revolves around a young man Nevare who as second son to a noble is destined by his culture to become a soldier. The first half of the book deals with his training at his father's estate and the latter half deals with his experiences at a prestigious millitary school for the children of nobles.

The book sets up all the protagonists and antagonists. One struggle will involve a struggle between the old nobles and new nobles(Nevare's father). Another story arc will be between Nevare's people and a race of sorcerous forest dwellers called dapples whose lands Nevare's people are invading.

Overall the excellence of this book will depend on the quality of the finished series. This is rather an excellent building book to a great series or the first book of a series that will drag on to an uninteresting conclusion.

The reason for the four stars and not five is that even in a book that is a building block to a larger story I like a little more contained story, but upon finishing this book I immediately wanted to read the next book of the series.
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Format: Hardcover
The thing I like about Robin Hobb is that she avoids the usual fantasy stereotypes. This book is no exception. I think I must be one of the few people who approached this book NOT looking for another Fitz. One of my biggest complaints (and many others will agree) with latter books by Eddings, Jordan etc, is that all the characters seem the same. I feel an author fails when they create a new series and you can easily place all the characters from the previous series, with new names.

Nevare is a fresh character. His world is a new setting. He's an ordinary person, which I feel in a Fantasy genre that has no shortage of lost kings, all powerful magicians, and beautiful princesses, is a very rare and interesting thing.

At first I found it a bit strange a premise for a story. At first look, it does seem like it would be dull. But I found the story of his days at home and his training at the academy engaging and interesting.

Expect this book to be different. Don't expect to find Fitz dressed up as a Soldier's Son. This isn't a story of kings and princesses and dragons. It's a lovely tale of a person's strengths and doubts.
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