Thursday, August 28, 2008

Forest Mage

I first met Robin Hobb at the Tacoma's Writer's Convention in 2004. She sat at our table, and I was a total dolt. I hadn't read her yet, so was a bit tongue tied. I asked her about breaking into writing, and she suggested getting a few short stories published before trying to sell a novel. Good advice, taken badly:

"I don't like short stories." I told her. "I don't read them, I don't want to read them, I wish they would just go away. My ideas can't fit into a short story."

I am such an idiot. And now, when I'm not writing short stories, I'm often reading Robin Hobb.

Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2)Forest Mage by Robin Hobb

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This sequel to Shaman's Crossing was a bit of a let down. I don't mind when a book takes its own good time, but this was glacial.

Many authors will use narrative time to skip ahead, but Robin Hobb teased the reader with lines like "It was twenty days before..." and you think you are about to skip twenty days. But no. "On the first day..." "The second day..." and so on.

If you use Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey model, this book, and the first, find the protagonist stuck in the Refusal of the Call for two, thick, slow, books.

On the other hand, the details were great, the characters felt real, and the magic was new, different, and magical. And the book is about something. The tension between nature and civilization. Between two conflicting rules of conduct. Yes, even good and evil, and the big grey/green area in between.

If you have time, and you enjoyed the first book, I'd say keep going. If you want to see her at her best, try the Tawny Man trilogy, starting with Fool's Errand.

View all my reviews.

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