He will follow his father into the army; to the frontier and thence to an advantageous marriage. Over twenty years the army has pushed the frontiers of Gernia as far as the Barrier Mountains, home to the enigmatic Speck people, who retain the last vestiges of magic in a progressive world.
Exotic and misunderstood, they are believed to spread a sexual plague which has ravaged the frontier, decimating entire regiments. But his world view will also be challenged by his unconventional cousin Epiny. And on Dark Evening, when the carnival comes to Old Thares, it will bring with it the first Specks Nevare has ever seen…. Completely different from the world of the Farseers, I initially had a bit of trouble getting drawn in, but by chapter three I was sold.
From the moment Nevare follows Dewara, a Kidona plainsman in to the seemingly empty wilderness of the plains, the story starts taking definite shape. After his time with Dewara, Nevare is sent to the capital Old Thares to attend the military academy. The rest of the book is set here and at the academy Nevare forms relationships that will be important in the rest of the trilogy.
He also discovers what his time with Dewara truly did to him. Still, these serve their purpose and are used well. The climax of the book might not be sudden, but it is definitely quick. The ending resolves some of the plot points but leaves enough for as set up for the next book. The second novel in the Soldier Son trilogy was a lot darker than the first one. In Forest Mage , Nevare falls from grace and faces an astonishing amount of misfortune.
Those two stole every scene they were in. Lastly, the last chapter was brilliant. There are terrible books on here with much better average scores and it seems unfair that a decent book such as this has an inferior rating than some other crappy, exploitative books you know who you are.
But that's life, huh? A lot of the struggles of this book come about as a result of it's sole, first person narrator, Nevare. I think Hobb deserves praise for writing a character whose 'voice' is so in keeping with the culture he represents. A lot of fantasy writers have characters fighting, scheming and adventuring around medieval Europe-style feudal kingdoms who inexplicably have modern, western values and sensibilities. Hobb deserves credit for writing a character who throughout this novel always feels like an 'officer and a gentleman' in a British empire style colony.
However over pages this leads so some real difficulties for me, as a modern reader, to feel connected to him. Nevare is at times a cool character who gets involved in exciting adventures and has interesting facets to his personality. However at his core Nevare is dull. He has a really strong desire to follow the rules, obey his father and do his duty without ever really considering the morality of doing these things in a society with some very questionable values.
As a rule I prefer multiple POV's in books as they give a better understanding of a wider range of characters. As a result of Crossings first person narration secondary characters never develop as much as they could. Two characters that stood out for me however were Epiny and Nevare's father. Epiny is an independent, intelligent woman who is determined to not quietly acquiesce to the oppressive expected behaviour of women in this society.
However Epiny is not an idealised heroine for women's rights. She can be immature, annoying and insensitive. These failings made her struggles against the unfairness in society all the more engaging for me as she isn't just a 2-D martyr for justice. I especially enjoyed how she eventually resolved her conflict. Nevare's father is another intriguing character. He is a heroic soldier, a caring father and a just lord. He is also deeply racist, classist and sexist. He is a loving father and husband but he also controls the lives of his wife and daughters often acting as a morality police.
He believes in the 'white man's burden' of 'civilising' the 'natives' for their own good but is a reasonable and just ruler over the conquered peoples. He views common soldiers as a dissolute mass who need to be guided by their virtuous social betters but is a good officer who cares about his men.
Due to the evils of colonialism it's easy to view those involved as inhumanly arrogant and cruel. This moral ambiguity is what made Nevare's father a great character. He was a fundamentally good man who was ultimately controlled by the oppressive society he was born into. For the most part the plot was well-written and well-paced. However there were times when events seemed forced. Some spoilers Early on Nevare's father sends him to be trained by a bloodthirsty warrior with a grudge in the harsh desert plains.
This training seems a bit extreme for an officer in a British Empire style army with advanced firearms where most officers purchase commissions. Later on at the academy Nevare, as a 'New Noble', faces constant prejudice and hatred from the snotty 'Old Nobles'.
At times these sections play out like a college comedy as The losers are bullied by the snotty rich kids. However the social conflict always seemed forced to me. I could understand the classism if Nevare was a commoner or if his father was a commoner who had been promoted to a lordship but Nevare's grandfather was a lord.
His family have been nobility for hundreds of years and all of the bitter hatred aimed at him because of his class is based on the fact that his father was a soldier and a decorated officer at that? There are interesting politics behind the scenes that reveal that the class tension is more about political influence than any real social superiority but these are only occasionally mentioned and most of the conflict is only shown as the 'Old Nobles' being stuck up to the 'New Nobles' which quickly becomes REALLY annoying.
We also see that the new nobles are systematically persecuted at the academy, bullied by Old Noble students and disciplined and expelled over trumped up charges.
View all 12 comments. There are interesting politics behind the scenes that reveal that the class tension is more about political influence than any real social superiority but these are only occasionally mentioned and most of the conflict is only shown as the 'Old Nobles' being stuck up to the 'New Nobles' which quickly becomes REALLY annoying. You know who also got on my nerves? However, this is not a flaw ; it is probably deliberate in, or at least very appropriate to, how Hobb tells the story. If you avoid making the choice or put it off, letting circumstance and the outside world decide for you, out of fear of choosing the wrong one, is to stagnate and get mired deeper into unwanted situations. I love that Hobb is enthusiastic about her world—and that her world is worth being enthusiastic about—but sometimes I just put the book aside and took a break because the lengthy descriptions and exposition were getting on my nerves. And so he did.
Yet they do nothing about it. I could understand it if they were commoners who had no way of fighting a powerful institution but the reason for the unrest is that new nobles have too much influence. Their fathers have solid holdings that are expanding rapidly and many have close family in the city with powerful connection and yet they do absolutely nothing to fight back against the Old Nobles. It just seems as if Hobb is determined to write Nevare and everyone close to him as magnets for injustice. So all in all this is a pretty good book. It has some good ideas and an interesting setting but it is ultimately let down by some stilted characterisation and dodgy plot points.
I've started this review three or four times only to become disgusted with my effort, slam the laptop closed and storm away. There are several authors who do this to me, Hobb and GGK are two who for whatever reason make it difficult for me to explain why I enjoy their work so much. I'm reading Under Heaven right now and can see myself heading in the same direction with that review. It's all about the characters with Hobb, if you are looking for an action packed book you need to look elsewhere.
If you enjoy watching characters develop and you want to peer over their shoulders as their lives intertwine with each other as well as the society around them then you might want to give this a try. Granted this is the first book in the series so we are still waiting to see how or if these characters fully grow and change but already we can see Epiny change within this book. She tests the boundaries of the society in which she lives by upsetting almost every social norm. I started out thinking she was just an obnoxious twit looking to get a rise out of people for the fun of watching them squirm but there is much more to her than that shallow first impression.
Of course we have Nevare, the main character no one likes. Born as the second son soldier he can be extremely frustrating to read about as he irritates you with his almost mindless adherence to societal norms, to the point of wanting to flick his ear and scream "WAKE UP". I guess Hobb is using Nevare as an instrument very blunt at this point to examine the society in which he was raised, we don't necessarily have to love him at this point but we need to understand how he was raised and why he reacts the way he does. It's easy to get your audience to fall in love with a character who has all those fantastic traits, wisdom, courage, strength, compassion but how many people actually have all those traits and use them when needed?
Hobb sets up a world that has fairly strict guidelines in regards to family and class. She also looks at stereotyping and pokes a finger in the eye to those of us who tend to believe secondhand information without applying critical thinking. This is definitely a slow burn and there were some tedious moments in the first third of the book but by the end I was completely invested and couldn't put it down.
Robin Hobb is one of my favorite Fantasy authors. She not only provides detailed worlds and characters with wondrous magic, but characters that I can feel. She is one of the few authors that have actually made me cry. It's an activity that is extremely rare for me in real life, and I tend to avoid weepy books or movies because they just make me feel manipulated. But that was not the case with Hobb - the emotion she pulled out of me was much more real. All of this to say, I've loved each of the bo Robin Hobb is one of my favorite Fantasy authors. All of this to say, I've loved each of the books in the Farseer and Liveship Trader worlds that I've read so far, but the Soldier Son trilogy is completely different.
The tone, the feel of the world, the setup of the characters - it all feels foreign. It took me a while to warm up to it. This first book felt quite dry until near the end when I started to see some of the world's magic. And I definitely had less empathy for the characters, as if I was watching more from a distance than in Hobb's other series.
I'm saying all this to warn you not to go into this series expecting something 'like' Hobb's other books. If you don't go in with that expectation, I believe it stands on its own merit. I enjoyed each book of the trilogy more than the one before it, and once I got to the third book I was completely drawn into this world. It took me longer to get there, but once I did, I was impressed yet again. It went on my favorites shelf with the others. This is fare for fans but even we, should buddy-read for moral support. Far from being atrocious, SC is a commendable book that is quintessential Hobb, absent feeling.
Perhaps I should, in way of rationalizing, consider not how inferior but how much SC might have contributed to Hobb writing, arguably, her greatest trilogy. Yet, I, most of us, loved that book. So, if I put on the same mindset, why cannot I love SC also?
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SC breaks no heart, at least mine was intact, while its protagonist, Nevare Burvelle, kept his caged in honor and protocol. Nevare is the heart of SC , but he never breaks free. As sole POV, we are held hostage to his sheltered worldview and his rigid sense of duty, but those of us who long for tension, for exuberance, for liberation, for any feelings to burst of constraints, find it not in Nevare.
To call him dull is too harsh a judgement but he skirts close to it with an obsequious temperament that borders on irritation. If he jolts into making any uncharacteristic decisions at all, it is by extreme external motivations, which usually means being shoved so tight into a corner that no decorum is left to conform with.
Only then he tentatively pushes back and only after much ponderance, but certainly with more force towards the end. The early one-third of story is reminiscent of a colonial frontier with newly nobled lords settling on ancient soils won with bloodshed, lands long inhabited by the tribal Plainsmen whose population have been brutally dwindled. Driven deeper into isolation and even more decimated are the mysterious Specks, whose natural dwellings are deforested for colonization. With the wars over, other problems arise. Labor shortage results in the formation of penal colonies to build roads out in the wildest edge of conquered lands.
Friction is unceasing between decommissioned foot soldiers and their more privileged officers, as well as power struggles between old and new nobles. In both groups, the former regards the latter with condescension and veiled hostility. Enmity is markedly pronounced among the sons enrolled in the cavalla Academy, where told the rest of the story in unnecessary length.
Tales of bullying, hazing, discrimination, physical challenges, academic rigors, friendships, social ostracization and everything one might expect in an elite officer cadet and boys boarding school are ours to critique or relish, though the prolonged telling seems such a chore for me. Nevare, our dear boy, is a central figure in all that conflict. My main issue with a plot that ties Nevare to these oblique socio- and geopolitical conflicts, magic and torn loyalty is that it seems so That what happens to Nevare could have happened to any sons - first or last in the family line - designated to be in any roles - lord, soldier, healer, priest, artist - in accordance with their succession.
That it happens to seemingly the most boring kid in the whole wide Plains is just plain bad luck to him and to me. She even has the hero taking care of his tack, a major plus. Excellent world with an a defeated society that is expanding over new territory. I listened to it as an audio book with a good reader, but Hobb repeats herself enough that I wondered if the book was originally published as a serial.
My biggest complaint with the writing was the heavy handed foreshadowing coupled with the idiot hero, though. I often knew a lot of the story before it happened. Luckily, Hobb throws in enough twists that there was fresh material. I've heard this was the best of the trilogy. There's a lot of story left to be told. Nov 24, Kevin Xu rated it it was amazing Shelves: I loved the school in here, so much like modern boarding school to me, not fantasy at all because it has no magic. Dec 29, John rated it really liked it. Hobb draws here a fantasy world whose world is closer to the 18th or 19th century than to medieval times.
Gernia, which sees itself as the standard-bearer of civilization, a generation ago lost its naval superiority and, with it, all of its coastal provinces. In response, the old knighthood the Cavalla became an elite cavalry and rose to prominence in battles against the barbaric plainsmen with their tribal ways and primi Shaman's Crossing is the first book in Robin Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy.
In response, the old knighthood the Cavalla became an elite cavalry and rose to prominence in battles against the barbaric plainsmen with their tribal ways and primitive magic. Gernia, besides standing as the bulwark of technology against magic, is a rigidly structured society in which familial roles are proscribed, at least for nobles: Shaman's Crossing and the subsequent Soldier Son novels are the first-person accounts of Nevare Burvelle, the second son of a newly-elevated noble who was himself a second son but was raised to Lordship by the King in recognition of outstanding service and, we come to find, as a shrewd political move to shore up support for the monarchy.
This novel follows Nevare through his childhood and the better part of his first year at the prestigious King's Cavalla Academy. Now that the Plainsmen have been defeated and largely marginalized or co-opted into the Gernian way of life, a forest-dwelling people known as the Specks are the next impediment to the expansion of Gernian civilization.
In the background of the main plotline is the war between the Gernians and the Specks, though the Gernians don't quite know they're at war, because the Specks are fighting it with a plague they inflict upon the invaders. Nevare himself is drawn into the heart of the conflict, though I don't want to give away too much of the plot.
Nonetheless, it's interesting to see the conflict between the scientific, technological, hierarchical Gernians and the tribal, hunter-gatherer, magical Specks. Equally, it's interesting to see--over the course of this novel and the second one--Nevare's growing understanding of the way that his own culture conditions and blinds him: Again, I hesitate to say too much. Her world-building is particularly impressive as she finally moves to a new world in the Soldier Son Trilogy, and the plotting in each book is good, but it's the characters who stand at the heart of her writing.
She's an excellent writer in the prime of her career. Oct 23, Willa rated it it was amazing Shelves: Once again Robin Hobb impresses with her ability to create an amazingly real and detailed world and wonderfully complex and entertaining characters to inhabit it. You know you're dealing with a truly talented author when the story is full of hardships, pain and disillusionment and it is still a joy to read.
This is the first of a very promising trilogy and I look forward eagerly to the continuing story of Nevarre, the hero who thinks he knows exactly what his future holds for him until one day a Once again Robin Hobb impresses with her ability to create an amazingly real and detailed world and wonderfully complex and entertaining characters to inhabit it. This is the first of a very promising trilogy and I look forward eagerly to the continuing story of Nevarre, the hero who thinks he knows exactly what his future holds for him until one day an ancient magic grips him, changing everything, but revealing itself oh-so-slowly.
As always, Hobb's characters face many challenges to their beliefs along with difficult moral choices. There are environmental themes also, which I expect to come into more prominence as the series continues. Robin Hobb truly is a master storyteller! And, wow, reading some of the reviews posted here has just reminded me of how few people are intellectual readers anymore. Give most readers a carefully constructed tale of mostly mental hardships, internal struggles and personal conflicts and they're bored, the plot is too 'slow' or 'plodding', the book needs editing for length.
I for one enjoyed the cerebral quality found here and greatly look forward to the rest of Nevarre's journey. Jan 27, Loederkoningin rated it it was ok Shelves: I was probably one step away from installing and burning sandalwood incense on a Robin Hobb shrine because of her Liveship Traders and Farseer trilogies. Compared to those Shaman's Crossing turned out to be a huge disappointment. The main character never grabbed me like Fitz or the tons of characters from the Liveship Traders trilogy did. I couldn't help finding the story a bit uninspired and terribly slow. Still, I promised myself to pick up the follow ups.
After all, we're talking Hobb here. U I was probably one step away from installing and burning sandalwood incense on a Robin Hobb shrine because of her Liveship Traders and Farseer trilogies. Unfortunately, I never did. Sep 30, Althea Ann rated it liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Reviewing the whole Soldier Son trilogy in one review, since it's one ongoing story. I've read everything published under her name, with the exception of the two most recent 'Dragon' novels.
I've given every single one of those books 4 or 5 stars. I've also read about half of what she's published as Megan Lindholm, and loved most of that as well. Unfortunately, I feel that the Soldier Son trilogy is Reviewing the whole Soldier Son trilogy in one review, since it's one ongoing story. Unfortunately, I feel that the Soldier Son trilogy is her least successful work to date.
It's not terrible, but it didn't hold up to my high expectations. I think that part of this is that while her previous epics have shown the reader a rich tapestry of a world, with multiple important characters and settings, this story follows one person, Navare the Soldier Son for over pages. And, to be honest, he's rather a tiresome person. I don't demand that characters be likable, but I just didn't find him interesting. He's a bit of an annoying prig. I wished that some of the more minor characters in the book had been fleshed out more, and that we had a chance to see things from their point of view.
It just gets dropped The third book is largely concerned with the conflicts of Navare's suddenly-split-personality. It's him arguing with himself for hundreds of pages. I feel like it's partly because other characters weren't developed enough. The story also moves very slowly. I felt like Navare's journey could have been condensed into one book, one-third of the length, and it would have been improved. I love long books, but this story seemed to have two main themes: Now, these are two very valid and important themes, but part of the reason that I do really like long books is that they have room in them for lots and lots of different ideas and themes.
Not just two, repeated frequently. I also felt that these two themes weren't dealt with very satisfactorily: OK, it's bad and wrong to disrespect another culture, regard them as primitive when they aren't, and to destroy their native lands. It's also inevitable that, due to economic and other factors, peoples move, expand, and come into conflict with each other, bringing about cultural change. I also agree that is true. Cause an economic distraction somewhere else causing everyone to run off elsewhere.
Not terrible, but not really a full analysis of the problem, either. However, I had a bigger problem with the other issue. After a million or so pages of Navare being prejudiced against because of his magically-induced obesity, and having it pointed out ad infinitum that what one culture may consider reprehensible and disgusting, another culture may respect, etc, the story ends up with Navare again magically being restored to his former thin, handsome appearance. It really undercuts the whole message of the book. However, like I said before, it wasn't terrible.
Hobb is still an excellent writer, and I did like that each of the cultures in the book was portrayed as having both positive and negative qualities. It was interesting and thoughtful enough to get me through all three very long volumes.
It just wasn't as good as I'd expected. Oct 01, Paulina rated it did not like it. Oh how I wanted to love this book. Oh how disappointed I was! So this review will be the "Ode of Oh's". Oh how did this book get so popular? I was given this book by a family member with excellent reviews but I can't see why this person-who-shall-remain-unnamed liked it so much. I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the world and the excellent character building we literally watch Nevare grow but the "liking" stops there. Oh Nevare, why have you no balls? Nevare is a fucking coward, and the sad Oh how I wanted to love this book.
I cannot count the number of times he refers to his actions as cowardly and never makes a resolution to change! He has spent so much of his life being told what to do that he is incapable of listening to his own criticisms. He is too willing to listen to authority. He does it because the one god decrees it, he does it because his father tells him to, but is that what he wants? He learns a bit about women's rights by the end of the novel and goes as far as asking his betrothed whether she really wants to marry him or whether she's following her family's wishes, but he never turns that thinking onto himself.
Is she being forced into marriage and is he being forced into the cavalla? I don't think I'll ever know. Yea, Nature loses out in the end! Tolkien is turning in his grave. Tolkien was the guy who brought the trees to life to fight "the industry" A. Hobb was the woman who makes the lush and magical Tree-Woman the dragon slayed at the end of this book. So strange that Nevare's environmentally-friendly half is one who turns out the be the evil twin.
Oh why are we othering the Others? This part of the novel probably bothered me the most. Nevare goes to a fair and sees them caged, and there is a moment where he feels the tragedy of the situation but those thoughts are buried under the sexual attraction Nevare and his mates feel for the female Speck and the all-important Dust Dance performed.
We find later that it is during this dance they managed to infect the entire city with a plague contained in their magical "dust". So basically, the "Indians" were the ones to hand out the smallpox in this book? The people deemed "uncivilized" by the conquering nation were the bad guys?? All in all, I'm going to hand this book back to the person I borrowed it from with a fake smile plastered on my face and a polite, "Oh, it was very Other books in the series include Forest Mage and Renegade's Magic.
Shaman's Crossing is where we are introduced to our hero, Nevare Burvelle, second son of a second son, fated because of his birth order to become a soldier in his king's cavalla cavalry. Much of this novel deals with Nevare's childhood: Along the way, Nevare becomes entangled in a web that neither he nor the reader will fully understand until events unfold in Renegade's Magic. Nevare's early years on his family's estate draw you in from the start, introducing us to his father's war history with the Plainspeople and Nevare's own bond with one Plainsman in particular.
There was almost a low point where Nevare is at the academy, what with the mundane day-to-day life of a student and all, but Hobb keeps the reader interested with a myriad of sub-plots and a cast of real, believable characters who each have difficulties or challenges of their own. I found Shaman's Crossing to be an engaging read.
Hobb never disappoints with her writing, and while this story was a little off from her usual Fitz novels, I still found a lot to like in the beginnings of what becomes a much larger story for Nevare. Needless to say, it won't take me long to pick up the next book in the series.
Dec 17, Monica rated it liked it. Robin Hobb is a great writer, and I enjoyed reading the first half of this book. But then it starts to get depressing And through all three books it never stops. All of her books are a little sad, but this one was way over he top. Reading these books was pretty much the same as being emotionally beat up.
I read all three books because I kept waiting for things to get better I thought it was impossible to write a whole trilogy that depressing. This is the first of a trilogy set in a world rather like the American Old West complete with cavalry, but in a setup where the political system is a monarchy and lords, and the religion is based around a 'good god' and his holy writ.
This writ dictates that the eldest son of a man should follow his father's trade or - in the case of the nobility - become the heir to his father's lands and property, the second son should be the 'soldier son', the third the priest, the fourth the artist and presu This is the first of a trilogy set in a world rather like the American Old West complete with cavalry, but in a setup where the political system is a monarchy and lords, and the religion is based around a 'good god' and his holy writ. This writ dictates that the eldest son of a man should follow his father's trade or - in the case of the nobility - become the heir to his father's lands and property, the second son should be the 'soldier son', the third the priest, the fourth the artist and presumably other dictated roles for any further ones.
Girls figure low on the pecking order: The story is told in the first person by Nevare. Nevare is his father's second son, but the difference between his father and other 'New Nobles' and the 'Old Nobles' is that the New ones have been enobled by the King about 20 years ago as a reward for their achievements in the war against the Plainspeople.
As a soldier son, his father would have been expected to return home on retirement from the military and work for his brother the heir, but instead he was given a land grant on the river in part of the territory taken from the conquered Plainspeople. The Old Nobles view people like his father as upstarts and, worse, they resent the fact that they form a loyal cadre around the King when they, the Old Nobles, were on the verge of curtailing the King's authority and ruling through the council of lords.
This rivalry is a constant tension between the two groups of nobles, as is shown later when Nevare reaches the age of 18 and goes off to military Academy. Before that, the story begins when the boy is about eight years old. Various incidents during his childhood make it clear that there is enduring prejudice against the Plainspeople and anyone who fraternises with them, such as army Scouts. At the same time, enlightened landlords such as Nevare's father create settlements and teach the Plainspeople how to live settled lives, herd goats etc.
This is all given the gloss of bringing the benefits of civilisation to 'savages', but there is an underlying hint that it is self-serving hypocrisy by the victors. At the same time, Nevare's father respects his erstwhile foes and, when his soldier son is 15, engages one of them to teach him the survival skills that Plains warriors relied upon. The problem is the man has his own agenda, to do with defeating an enemy who drove his tribe from their settled existence in the mountains long ago, and his attempt to turn Nevare into a weapon against that enemy rebounds and results in the young man's division both spiritually and mentally.
Eventually, this becomes a serious issue and not just for him. Nevare as a character is rather conforming although he gradually learns to question things as he learns more about the issues affecting his society. From thinking that women were unquestioning placid creatures, he comes to realise they are people with characters of their own, mainly due to the antics of his sometimes childish and rebellious cousin Epiny. The personalities of the other cadets also have life lessons for him as he comes to realise he is not the born leader his father wants him to be: One tutor at the Academy sees potential in him, but only as a self sufficient scout who would not be able to lead men to glory as his father had done.
And he learns painfully at first hand how the rivalry between the two nobilities can skew his whole future, with the pro-Old Noble management at the Academy turning a blind eye to bullying and other tactics designed to have New Noble lads thrown out. A soldier son whose family could not afford to then buy him a commission would be forced to enlist in the normal infantry, and Nevare doubts his cold and controlling father would do so in his disappointment at Nevare's "failure".
Meanwhile he continually questions himself, berates himself for cowardice in not speaking up at certain times, and doubts the strange dreams - and visions of his psychic cousin Epiny - which point to his having been dangerously compromised when he was under the Plainsman's tuition. This is very different from other novels I've read that the author has published under the penname Robin Hobb.
I really enjoyed some of her Megan Lindholm novels, but have found the Hobb ones a bit uneven, especially the Farseer trilogy where everyone hung around doing nothing to stop the evil son of the king ruining everything. I actually enjoyed this book more than most of those, and more on a par with the Liveship Traders series. The story is very character driven: Nevare is an ordinary noble's son, raised from childhood with the knowledge that he must serve in the military and not bring disgrace to his family or his King, and to accept his father's choice of a bride for him which, in their strata of society, is done for political advancement or acquisition of land and property.
The operation of holy writ means that any reward granted to other children, including dowries and marriage portions, go to the lord himself to pass down to the heir, and if the children lack means of support they are forced to live at home and work for their father or, if he has died by then, their older brother. Nevare accepts this whole system and its baggage and it takes him a long time to begin questioning it, but that didn't trouble me as it was perfectly in keeping with how most young people absorb their opinions from their family and only gradually come to question them as they broaden their own life experience.
Two things held the book back from a 5-star rating. Firstly, the author has a irritating trait of constantly belabouring the same point. The same things are reiterated over and over. A simple example is towards the end where it is stated by different characters three times in as many pages that Nevare will travel to his brother's wedding in the spring, but more fundamental points such as the rivalry between the nobilities are gone over countless times when it is completely obvious from the unfair treatment dished out to the New Noble students. The second problem for me is that the novel is rather ambiguous about the defeated native people Plainspeople and the undefeated ones Specks who live in the mountains and, at some point in history, were responsible for at least some of the others having to leave for the plains.
The one Plains man who is shown in any detail treats Nevare in a thoroughly heartless manner; although he might be getting vicarious revenge on his former enemy, Nevare's father, his grooming of him is sinister and ultimately counterproductive since he doesn't tell him what he really needs to know. But the Specks, who are viewed from the "civilised" viewpoint Nevare has imbued as complete primitives who don't even wear clothes - and seem to be portrayed that way in the interludes when he dreams about them - are the real villains, especially when we discover near the end of the book what they have been doing for most of the story.
Given the despoilation of the natural world by Nevare's countrymen it does seem to be the men who are chopping down trees etc though by inference the women might be benefitting , as a reader I felt I should be empathising or at least sympathising with the Specks who are trying to stop them, and yet their tactics - and the gloating greed of the enemy who compromised Nevare when he was sent to fight her - were so horrible that this wasn't possible. So I've rated this as a 4-star read. Aug 04, T. This is not just a bit different for a Robin Hobb book, but different as a fantasy book too.
If it was a first attempt at a novel I would imagine that it would be hard to get it published, bucking the trend of what popular fantasy seems to be. Here Hobb throws out quite a lot of what seems to be 'normal' Instead of the standard medieval setting the blueprint of this new series is the expansion into the old west, particularly the cavalry and the subjugation of the indigenous peoples. Obviously it This is not just a bit different for a Robin Hobb book, but different as a fantasy book too.
Obviously it is not a direct transposition, but it can be seen clearly, and as such many of the tropes of the traditional fantasy are dropped, swords and armour, are replaced by uniform, guns and sabers. There is a strong feeling of technological advances, from heating in houses to running water there is a feeling of progression, and this is where the crux at the heart of the story comes into play. There is magic, a naturalistic shaman magic that is owned by the natives, and it is being eroded and destroyed by the incoming invaders, as they tear down forests for their own needs.
All set in a school giving a macrocosm of the outside world and seen through the eyes of a pupil, one who is desperate to prove that he is the perfect son, intent on being all he can despite the prejudice thrown in his direction. It also happens that the natives have had the chance to use him, to create in him the seeds of a weapon that might just tear the invading society down.
As always Hobb writes well, and as is often the case in a first book in a series it starts slow setting out it's stall, but finishes superbly. May 08, Elizabeth rated it really liked it. A young man grows up in a sheltered and privileged adolescence and then enters a military academy to begin his training as the soldier son of his father. Dark magic from the mysterious Speck tribe, political upheavals at home, a new plague sickness spreading in the borderlands, and good old-fashioned twattery combine to make it a difficult first year. I found it none of the A young man grows up in a sheltered and privileged adolescence and then enters a military academy to begin his training as the soldier son of his father.
I found it none of these things. Perhaps I have strange taste, perhaps it was the right book, right person, right time. It is kind of slow and gentle, things happen but they aren't the grandest of things, but I enjoy that in a novel. Part of me is anticipating reading the next books in the trilogy and part of me dreads it having adored Assassin's Apprentice and then been steadily less enamoured of the other two Farseer titles. Is everything going to go downhill and slowly end in despair?
I don't know but I intend to find out soon. Jul 13, Kylie rated it it was amazing. Review will be coming to my channel soon because this was great. Who ever thought I would like a military-focused fantasy.
Sep 18, Len Evans Jr rated it it was amazing. Well-developed world and great characters! Jun 02, James rated it it was amazing Shelves: The book revolves around Nevare Burvelle, a solider son, as all second sons of nobility are destined to be. His father is an honorable, inflexible man, not one to question hierarchy or social mores. He rears Nevare as a cadet as much as a son, entrusting his training to an old soldier and, later, an old enemy, to prep him for his duties.
The world they inhabit seems to parallel ours before the Industrial Revolution. The kingdom of Gernia has just concluded an expansionist campaign against the indigenous Plainspeople. They are now expanding further to the sea, building a great road for hoped-for profits, and coming into nascent conflict with the Specks, human-like creatures who live free in the forests as the Plainspeople once roamed the grasslands.
Hobb makes good use of the expansionist setting, using it to parallel Western imperialism without resorting to simplistic representations of any people. Gernia needed their land, and they were stronger. The same will be true for the Specks. Nevare forms his own impressions through a series of well-crafted encounters, which play an increasingly important role as the book progresses. There he comes into contact—and conflict—with his peers as they all struggle under the strain of military hierarchy and hazing.
To maintain the balance of power in the military, the old nobles and their allies at the Academy strive to expel the sons of new nobles. This conflict—and its wider ties to taxation, intrigue and power—is well-portrayed. The day-to-day indignities and failures carry proper weight, and Hobb does an excellent job of building tension without descending into melodrama. The book has some soft spots.
Nevare is simplistic in his impressions of the world around him; he has a host of rules, standards and hoary old sayings available for recitation. Shaman's Crossing [Mar 5, ] 7 22 Mar 23, Soldier's Son trilogy buddy read - starts November 15 16 24 Feb 21, Shaman's Crossing - buddy read 43 19 Jan 04, Shaman's Crossing 27 42 Jul 09, Shaman's Crossing, by Robin Hobb 3 9 Jul 10,