Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: Dragon Haven

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb is the sequel to The Dragon Keepers. It picks up pretty much exactly where the story left off, which is great since I read them back to back. I imagine it would be a little trickier if you waited a while in between (say, if you were waiting for the second half to be released), so Hobb throws in occasional paragraphs filling in the reader on what happened previously. Unfortunately for me, I already knew all that, so it was mildly annoying, but overall quite understandable that such details were included.

I liked this book more than the previous one, mostly because we already got all the set up and expository buildup out of the way. The characters were established, and so we got to focus on my favorite part of the book: the plot. Yay!

I did not like one of the decisions a viewpoint character makes 2/3 of the way through, but at the same time I wasn't sure how it would have worked otherwise... the perfect moment as far as opportunity goes for the scene to happen was before another character came back to the ship (which is what happened in the book), but the motivation would have been better if it had been postponed til after that character came back, so there was a bit of a dilemma there. I thought it was somewhat out of character to do it the way it ended up happening and thus I was a little annoyed. (I'm sorry if that's really vague. But if I said anything more specific, it would be very spoilery.) Aside from that though, I was pretty satisfied with how the story all unfolded.

I have to say I did call one of the final plot surprises but I was okay with that. I don't often figure out plot twists so it's kind of fun when I do. Or maybe I only pick up on the really obvious ones...

I still wonder if this story could have conceivably fit into one book. I feel like the main reason it didn't is because it had two major viewpoint characters and at least three minor ones, and all of them had complex back stories and subplots they were entangled in. Coming at it from an editor's perspective (which I'm not one, so I may be completely off base), I have to wonder whether any of that could have been cut or pruned without the story suffering. I don't know. I'm biased, because now that I've read it with it all in, I can't imagine the story without. It definitely makes for a complex story, and the characters never lose sight of their main focus, so I don't think such complexity is a bad thing, I just wonder. (Mostly because Nathan is looking at editing a manuscript that has a really long first draft, and faces some of the same issues... what can you cut without harming the strength of the story?)

Anyway, I'm glad I read it, and I'm eager for the next one to come out. If I'd known the storyline wasn't done yet, I might have waited before picking up the trilogy (or maybe it's a planned quartet now). Oh well. I think the next one comes out relatively soon.

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