The dragons, their keepers, Tarman, its crew and hunters, and the Bingtowners are continuing their journey to find Kelsingra, a dream city which its existence no one is sure of.
The keepers are not deluded to think that this is going to be an auspicious travel. They all tacitly know that the Rain Wilds Council has agreed to the voyage only to send a bunch of stunted dragons who can’t hunt along with the misfits of the Rain Wild away, hoping that the malformed weights would all never come back. While at smaller level also hoping to discover whatever artifacts of Elderling’s buried in Kelsingra, if by some miracle, the contingent manage to find the city. But not one soul knows or remembers where Kelsingra is. So pray to Sa, everyone is depending on Tarman to lead the way, deeper and deeper into the uncharted river, as far as the water lets it, solely relying on it’s draconic instinct.
Despite the acute uncertainty among them, the group finds their rhythm quite soon into their excursion. Even with scarcity in resource and food, and the dragons are in morose temper from all the wading instead of flying, the beasts and the humans still find it in them to bond. The keepers are quick to assume their jobs well, they tend to their dragons health and well-being, and they also groom their scales to shine. Now that the dragons scaling are lustrous and magnificent, and they each have at least one human to serve them, the hurt beasts start to get some of the dignity they have long lost back.
As the group floats farther and deeper into the unexplored, food gets easier to find. Fish most of the time, meat occasionally, but most importantly, whatever it is, it’s fresh and not rotten like the thing that the dragons ate back in Cassarick. With better food and care, the dragons start to change in the manner they thought they would never have. Kalo, the black and biggest dragon, is the first to show a sign of changing in his size. Slowly, he’s transforming closer to a normal dragon size. Meanwhile, some of the other dragons can feel a slight difference in their wings. They palpably feel more muscley and stronger, it’s almost like the deformed creatures would someday be able to fly again. And the one change that comes as the biggest surprise to them is that there’s dragons who even have poison filling up their long empty sacs.
And then, a deluge hits the troop. It comes very unexpectedly, scatters the group apart, sends them screaming for their lives. For a minute there, they’re all sure that this is it. They are going to die right then and there. But thank Sa, fate chants a different verse. Sooner rather than later, Tarman and Carson manage to gather almost all members back into the company.
But after the flood, things get significantly harder. The river is now overflown with water, depriving the dragons of their safe and dry banks to rest on. And the water is at unseen level of acid, taking away their keepers from the beasts, for a human can die in water that acidic. The already weary dragons get even more exhausted without proper rest, and their nails are also getting soft from the acids. The boats that the keepers used to store their hunting tools were lost in the flood. Some of the humans are injured, and some of them are still lost in the wild. The already patchy journey looks even gloomier in prospect now. Doubts swiftly escalate, questions quickly surface. Will they ever find Kelsingra, or if they’ve failed this mission, how would failure have looked like?
First, let me apologize for the worst excerpt in the history of bookblogging. You’ll think that there’s only the keepers and the dragons in the story from my summary. But I assure you, there’s much more than that. It’s just that I am not Robbin Hobb who can pack that many perspectives of a narrative while still maintaining the sturdiness and consistency of it. In short, Hobb obviously nailed it, and I didn’t. So there’s that.
Apart from that, what I love the most about Hobb’s books is that they’re always brimming with intriguing events. I love it whenever a story’s highlight is its strong and engrossing storyline. And this one is no exception. The plot is immensely rich and loaded.
Very much has changed in this book. At the end of the story, no one is the same person as who they were at the beginning. The Bingtowners have finally decided to accept their new lives and started to think what to make of it. While Thymara and Sintara have sorta learned how to respect each other under the banner of their stubbornness.
The focus in this book is the matter of new community. Greft tries to assume the empty leader seat so far, but it’s proven to be a not so easy thing to do. Some of the keepers have no real objection of it, but some others are really hard on denying him as a chief. But anyway, some shape of community has to be made at some point, because they’re too far away from where they started, physically and emotionally, literally and figuratively speaking. So they’ll eventually have to figure out how to establish a new fashion of settlement which will consist of dragons and humans from widely diverse backgrounds.
I felt like a very big chapter was closed while still fully realizing that we’d had two endings so far. The second piece of the chronicles answers most of the big questions hovering around the team, and permanent developments are not to be ignored. From here onward, any way back to where they all started only seems more and more distant. There’s physical changes happening both in the humans and the dragons, and this is one of the biggest and most irreversible developments that the story gives. In order for the mortal humans to be able to live around the magical dragons for how long a time period that they all don’t know yet, the changes that follow are only sensible. Plus! Sprinkled on are several sweet and interesting twists for you!
I know I said I rooted for the characters hard in the book one, but the fondness I’d felt toward them was nothing compared what I felt in this next series. And this is exactly why I think, the next book must have very much more still to offer.
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