Book Review: The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb

The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin HobbI have read several books by Robin Hobb, but I’ve never read a trilogy as utterly un-put-downable as this one. It begins with Shaman’s Crossing, following the story of Nevare Burvelle from the time when he is old enough to begin training for his destined career as a Cavalla Officer in the King’s army. From a young age Nevare begins to realise that the society in which he lives is riddled with conflict and inequality, where justice is often neglected in order to maintain the status quo. Nevare is a privileged Gernian, but he soon comes into contact with the Plainspeople and their mysterious magical abilities. Yet they have been subjugated by the might of the Gernian race, and even their magic cannot compete against the power of iron.   

Nevare’s father is not content with the usual military training that is given to most soldier sons, and insists on handing him over to the local tribe of Plainspeople for a test that will push him to extremes. Little does he know that something unexpected will happen to Nevare during this training, and it will lead him to make a decision that will impact the rest of his life and the survival of an entire race.

Eventually Nevare enrols in the Cavalla Academy to begin the formal part of his training, but he is haunted by strange dreams, shocked by the odd behaviour of his cousin, and horrified to discover the abysmal treatment of his fellow New Noble cadets. An encounter with the Speck People, a race of forest dwellers from far across the plains, sets things in motion that can never be undone, as a deadly plague rampages through the city…

In the second book, Forest Mage, we begin to see a strange transformation in Nevarre’s body, in response to the magic that has captured him, and it affects not just his prospects in the Cavella, but his relationships with family and friends too.

Rejection leads him to seek sanctuary in far away Gettys, at the end of the King’s Road, where he is shocked to discover the destruction caused by a stand-off between the Gernians and the Specks. But this is where the magic really begins to take over, and Nevare must make a choice between the two races, before it is too late.

This is a trilogy that confronts prejudice and turns it on its head. It really makes you think about your own preconceptions, and the importance of the natural environment. It is incredibly gripping, right up until the last few pages.

The Soldier Son Trilogy includes Shaman’s Crossing, Forest Mage and Renegade’s Magic by Robin Hobb.

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