Thursday, August 4, 2016

A New Look at Dragons: A Brief Review of the Rain Wild Chronicles

The Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb are readable and exciting. The characters are flesh and blood, if a bit numerous, and the setting is artfully tangible. However, I only enjoyed the half of the plot that had to do with the dragons as the drama surrounding the characters' relationships is tedious.

Summary

Dragons have been driven to near extinction. A final group of them hatch deformed, and the agreement between them and the human settlements is becoming strained. Their only hope is to make the long trip up the river to an unknown location where their ancestral city of Kelsingra stands.

The city council agrees to send a group of people with them to care for the dragons during the trip. Among them are Alise, a scholar running from her husband, and Thymara, a young girl who is unable to participate in her society because she is heavily "marked by the wilds" (has scales and claws).

A New Look at Dragons

The plot line following the dragons' struggle to Kelsingra is great. Hobbs kicks around some fascinating ideas like ancestral memories for both dragons and humans and possible consequences and effects they might have. For example, the dragons know that they are deformed as no other dragons have ever been and it leaves them frustrated.

The pride they have in the superiority of their race is contrasted by their belief that they are not truly dragons because they are unable to fly or hunt for themselves. Pride and the desire to be a real dragon trap Sintara, the main dragon character, who refuses to spread her wings for a long time or attempt flight out of embarrassment.

Another idea Hobbs introduced was the mutual changes that dragons and humans cause in one another. The concept of dragons changing humans, both mentally and physically is an old one, but the reverse was tantalizing and subtly done.

Conclusion

If you can slog through the various romances with dubious thematic meaning, this series is great! It is a unique depiction of dragons that I found refreshing. You definitely will need the Cast of Characters printed in the beginning of each book, though! There are too many side characters with genderless names.

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