City of Dragons by Robin Hobb
City of Dragons is as enthralling an instalment as any Robin Hobb has written. The gradual unfolding of the tale and the progressive uncovering of the legend of the Elderlings is to be read and savoured.
Kelsingra awaits for those brave enough to enter… The dragons and their keepers have discovered Kelsingra but so far only Heeby has succeeded in flying over the river to enter the fabled city. The other dragons, with their deformed wings and feeble muscles, are afraid to risk failure and humiliation. But wondrous things await in Kelsingra, a city built for dragons and their Elderling keepers. Alise, overwhelmed by the treasures she finds there, records her finds for posterity. Once the rest of the world knows about the riches the city contains, nothing will ever be the same again. Already, rumours of the city’s discovery have floated down the Rain Wild River and reached envious ears in Bingtown and beyond. Adventurers, pirates and fortune hunters are coming in droves to pillage what they can from the city. As is Hest Finbok, Alise’s husband… Meanwhile, Selden Vestrit finds himself a prisoner of the ailing Duke of Chalced, who believes him to be some sort of dragon-man whose flesh and blood may work miracle cures. Where is Tintaglia, the great sapphire-blue dragon, when all have such need of her? Has she really abandoned her beloved Selden and the fledgling dragons forever? Or will she too return to seek the wonders of Kelsingra?
City of Dragons deserves to be placed amongst Robin Hobb's finest individual fantasy novels, right up there with Assassin's Quest (from The Farseer Trilogy) and The Mad Ship (from The Liveship Traders). The secret to the book's appeal and quality lie in the author's ability to create a world with a fascinating lore and legend, a world that the reader finds believable and wants to find out more about. Despite there being eleven previous books set in this realm precious little is still known about the Elderlings, their cities and what cataclysmic event occurred to cause their extinction. But slowly things are becoming clearer and it is every bit as enthralling as you could wish for.
In a recent questions and answers session Robin Hobb spoke at length about the inspirations behind her Elderling stories, “I think Anne McCaffrey’s dragons were part of the hordes of dragons that gave me inspiration for various parts of my stories. Smaug is there, of course, and The Reluctant Dragon, and a host of unnamed maiden-devouring dragon hoarding dragons as well. One thing that I think Anne McCaffrey did very well is making certain that her dragons and the culture that evolved on Pern make sense, biologically and socially. So I may have taken that from her books; I wanted to be sure that my dragons in my tale, though fantasy, had logical roots. And that these huge predators made sense in their ecology and biology.”
And Hobb does indeed manage to make her dragons every bit as "real" as their human counterparts and this allows us to read in wonder as they reclaim their lost memories. I will be honest and admit that while the first book in the Rain Wild Chronicles, The Dragon Keeper, was a decent read I was far from blown away by it. But this is often the case with new trilogies and it takes time to grow accustomed to new locations, new characters and often much groundwork needs to be laid down before the story can begin to grow in the telling. The series has been a real slow burner but those who have reached this stage are now in for a treat and will be richly rewarded for their patience. The chapters in this book that deal with the rediscovering of the delights - and the uncovering of the mysteries - of Kelsingra are simply magnificent.
And it should also be mentioned that Robin Hobb has introduced something uncommon into a fantasy series, the same-sex relationship, which even in 2012 is a rarity and might even be considered brave as it carries the possible risk of alienating some readers with strong views on such matters.
“I think that in fantasy, sexual orientation, like race, culture and age, becomes but one facet of a character, and not necessarily the most important face of that character. If a character is a gay vampire with a gambling addiction, it’s really hard to say what the most intriguing aspect of her is or which one will drive the story. And I don’t think readers really want a one-note character who is ‘the black one’ or ‘the gay one’ or ‘the child dying-of-an-incurable-disease’ one. I like to read about characters with whom I share one key aspect that lets me identify with him, but at the same time is so different from me that I’m excited to journey with him in that adventure,” said the author when asked if she had any fears about exploring non-conventional love stories and promoting same-sex relationships.
The Rain Wild Chronicles have developed into a superb continuation of the Liveship Traders trilogy and I highly recommend that you join the Lords of the Three Realms in the City of Dragons and experience the same reading delights that I did.
This City of Dragons book review was written by Floresiensis
All reviews for: The Rain Wild Chronicles
The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book 1
Guided by the great blue dragon Tintaglia, they came from the sea: a Tangle of serpents fighting their way up the Rain Wilds River, the first to make the perilous journey t...
The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book 2
The dragon keepers and the fledgling dragons are forging a passage up the treacherous Rain Wild River. They are in search of the mythical Elderling city of Kelsingra, and a...
City of Dragons
The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book 3
The dragon keepers and fledgling dragons have discovered a route to the lost city of Kelsingra but there is one problem: they need to be able to fly to cross the treacherou...
Blood of Dragons
The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book 4
Dragon blood and scales, dragon liver and eyes and teeth. All required ingredients for medicines with near-miraculous healing powers. The legendary blue dragon Tintaglia is...
Have you read City of Dragons?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
City of Dragons reader reviews
Ani from WA
This book was amazing!!! I loved it. It had amazing detail and a good storyline and I liked it as much as Dragon Haven!!!
9.9/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Age of Misrule
The details that Mark Chadbourn puts into the Celtic mythology are fantastic. I’ve never really been that keen on Celtic mythology in books in the past, this is the f...
Harrowing the Dragon
Spanning a quarter of a century, an anthology of previously uncollected short fiction by the World Fantasy Award-winning author explores a world of magic in such works as &...
The Dragon's Tooth
For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone t...
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Young pioneer, Micah, enters Wrymeweald full of hope to return home having made his fortune. But this is a land where wyrmes, fabulous dragon-like beasts, roam wild and rei...
Tales from the Perilous Realm
Enchanted by a sand-sorcerer, the toy dog Roverandom explores a world filled with strange and fabulous creatures; the fat and unheroic Farmer Giles of Ham is called upon to...
Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit...
Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye - a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to nurture and protect the land. But E...
Pamela Wiseman and Sarah Laichas
From fire-breathing to friendly, dragons pretty much rule the fantasy world. Dedicated to the coolest of mythological beasts, DragonWorld is a showcase of some of today&rsq...
Vlad Taltos is an Easterner - an underprivileged human in an empire of tall, powerful, long-lived Dragaerans. He made a career for himself in House Jhereg, the Dragaeran cl...
George RR Martin
Among the scattered islands that make up the water world of Windhaven, no one holds more prestige than the silver-winged flyers, romantic figures who cross treacherous ocea...
In a small village, miles from the great cities of the Twin Kingdoms, a young boy called Errol tries to find his way in the world. He's an outsider - he looks different...
In The Labyrinth of Drakes
In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and ...
Big Dragons Don't Cry
A depressed dragon, impudent kitten, and frightened young woman make an unlikely trio to save the dragon's swamp and lead humans to wholeness. They need the help of the...
Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson's navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important s...
The Red Knight
Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild. Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's ja...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
The Story of Tomkin and the Dragon
Tomkin Thornhewn, youngest son of the Duke of Marshwell, has a problem: he’s not heroic. Regardless of his aspirations, the bookish, untrained young man is better suited...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her alone. Garbled warnings from bizarre creatures keep her up at night. And there’s a time portal in the keg room of the bar where she works. Soon, Hallie is tumbling through...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...