Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Interesting Words: Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

View this book on Amazon.comOne of the things I often do as I'm reading a novel or short story is keep track of words whose definitions I do not know or that I find interesting. Either way, these interesting words are ones I feel might be of use in my own writing. That, and it's good to expand one's vocabulary every once in a while.

These interesting words were found in Robin Hobb's Dragon Keeper.

aplomb: great coolness and composure under strain

chit: an official note giving information or showing a sum of money that is owed or has been paid

contralto: the lowest female singing voice

damask: a fabric of linen or cotton or silk or wool with a reversible pattern woven into it

deckhand: a member of a ship's crew who performs manual labor

dilettante: an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge

enervate: weaken mentally or morally

fid: A pin of hard wood, tapering to a point, used to open the strands of a rope in splicing

hoyden: a girl who behaves in a boyish manner

humidor: an airtight container for keeping cigars or tobacco moist.

pedagogy: the profession of a teacher

peignoir: a loose dressing gown for women

penurious: excessively unwilling to spend

physicking: a purging medicine; stimulates evacuation of the bowels

slurry: a suspension of insoluble particles (as plaster of paris or lime or clay etc.) usually in water

somnolence: a very sleepy state

stippling: produce a mottled effect

supine: lying face upward

windlass: lifting device consisting of a horizontal cylinder turned by a crank on which a cable or rope winds

[ Follow me on Twitter ]

The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb is the first volume in the Rain Wilds Chronicles, a two part series that takes place after events told in the Liveship Traders books. Dragon Keeper was (briefly) a free giveaway in Kindle format from Amazon. That's how I obtained my copy.

I've mostly had good luck with Hobb. I really enjoyed both the Farseer and Soldier Son trilogies, but had some issues with the first novel in the Liveship Traders series. Ultimately, I never finished that series, though after having read Dragon Keeper I might be willing to give it another try. That being said, while Dragon Keeper is in some ways a continuation of the ongoing saga told in the Liveship books, it is the start of an entirely new story. There are some familiar names and faces here, but they're merely mentioned or, in the case of Althea and Brashen, appear as secondary characters.

The overarching story of the Rain Wilds Chronicles is that of a host of dragons who emerge from their cocoons underdeveloped. While the dragons of Hobb's world inherit the memories of their ancestors, these dragons are physically handicapped: their wings are stunted, their legs too short, their bodies undernourished. Forced to rely on their human tenders and dwell in a place where they are increasingly unwelcome, they decide as a group to travel upriver to seek out an ancient Elderling city that they all remember from memories past. Though they know the journey will be fraught with danger, they decide it is better to die trying than to remain where they are.

Because the dragons made a bargain with the folk of the River Wilds, they do not venture out alone. With them go the dragon keepers, malcontents and misfits chosen by the city council because they, like the dragons, are no longer wanted. The principal character amongst them is Thymara, a sixteen year old who, though born "marked" by the Rain Wild, was spared death by exposure by her father. The other keepers are a varied ensemble, with some who have definite designs of their own that go far beyond merely assisting and tending their dragons.

Also, there is Alise, a woman obsessed with dragon lore. She has amassed the single, largest repository of dragon knowledge and is given the chance to add to it when the opportunity arises for her to visit the dragons. Little does she know that they are just planning their expedition, and so, as one might expect, she winds up joining them.

Rounding out the cast is Leftrin, a likeable riverboat captain, and Sedric, Alise's oldest friend who wants nothing but the best for Alise, but who has certain nefarious motivations of his own.

I liked Dragon Keeper. While the cast of characters somewhat resembled that of Ship of Magic, where I found the majority of those characters unlikeable, these possess much greater depth and, for me, were easier to enjoy. While the novel begins with multiple storylines, it's easy to see that soon they all will coalesce into the journey the dragons intend to undertake. As a reader, I never felt I was getting bogged down with too much back story or being sent off on tangents that were either dead-ends or had nothing to do with the main plot. Everything fits here and Hobb keeps things moving along smoothly. She tells just enough to give you the characters' back-stories but not so much you feel compelled to start skipping pages.

That being said, the only thing holding me back from purchasing the next book in the series, Dragon Haven, is the Kindle price. It's not available in paperback yet, and I've never been one for hardcovers. It'd be nice if publishers would give it up already and just sell the electronic versions at a reasonable price, but that's not to be. Not right now, anyway. The Kindle edition of Dragon Haven sells for $14.99. Fortunately, my reading pile is never small, and so I can wait for it to come down in price. Take that, Big 6 Publishers.

Meanwhile, though, The Dragon Keeper is well worth your time. I’d recommend you check it out.

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb: Free Kindle Edition

View this book on Amazon.comSee my follow-up post to see why Dragon Keeper is no longer offered for free.

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb is the first of three novels in the author's new Rain Wilds Chronicles and, at least for now, it's free for Kindle owners.

While this is a new series, it takes place in the same world as Hobb's Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies. It most closely follows the Liveship Traders series as both contain elements of the Rain Wilds. Of course, the Farseer Trilogy had dragons, and so does this new series, so perhaps it's best to say it builds on most of Hobb's previous work in this world. Wikipedia collectively calls all of these books The Realm of the Elderlings series.

Apparently this freebie idea was tried with great success when the Farseer Trilogy came to the Kindle last year. The first eBook in the series was released and sales for books two and three did very well. Guess you could call it a "3 for 2" deal.

While I loved the Farseer books, I wasn't terribly enamored with the Liveship Traders series. In fact, I barely made it through book one. But I enjoyed The Soldier Son Trilogy (even if some others did not), so I was actually looking forward to giving Hobb another shot.

This one is already sitting on my Kindle, waiting to be read.

Of course, the kicker here is you have to own a Kindle. Sorry traditional book readers.