City of Dragons by Robin Hobb

(9.7/10)

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.

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1 positive reader review(s) for City of Dragons

Our interview with Robin Hobb

City of Dragons, the third instalment in The Rain Wild Chronicles, will be published in the UK on the 23rd of April 2012. In advance of the book's release, Robin Hobb has kindly taken time to expound on the inspirations b [...]

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All reviews for Robin Hobb's The Rain Wild Chronicles series

Dragon Keeper

by Robin Hobb

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 [...]

Series: The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book 1
Published: 0000

Score: 91

Our rating: 8.5 | positive reader reviews

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Dragon Haven

by Robin Hobb

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 [...]

Series: The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book 2
Published: 2010

Score: 91

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

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City of Dragons

by Robin Hobb

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 [...]

Series: The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book 3
Published: 2011

Score: 98

Our rating: 9.7 | positive reader reviews

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Blood of Dragons

by Robin Hobb

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 [...]

Series: The Rain Wild Chronicles: Book 4
Published: 0000

Score: 88

Our rating: 8.8 | positive reader reviews

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More Robin Hobb reviews

Fool's Assassin

by Robin Hobb

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service [...]

Series: Fitz and the Fool #1
Published: 2014

Score: 101

Our rating: 9.9 | 2 positive reader reviews

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Fool's Quest

by Robin Hobb

Happy endings never last... Years ago, they freed a dragon from the glaciers on Aslevjal. Then they parted ways, the Fool returning to far-off Clerres, while Fitz finally c [...]

Series: Fitz and the Fool #2
Published: 2015

Score: 91

Our rating: 9.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

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Assassin's Fate

by Robin Hobb

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer's daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield grea [...]

Series: Fitz and the Fool #3
Published: 2017

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince

by Robin Hobb

One of the darkest legends in the Realm of the Elderlings recounts the tale of the so-called Piebald Prince, a Witted pretender to the throne unseated by the actions of bra [...]

Series: NA
Published: 0000

Score: 70

Our rating: 7.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Assassin's Apprentice

by Robin Hobb

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, [...]

Series: The Farseer Trilogy: Book 1
Published: 1995

Score: 115

Our rating: 9.2 | 19 positive reader reviews

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Royal Assassin

by Robin Hobb

Honesty is the bedrock for any relationship. But how can Fitz – royal bastard, trainee assassin, holder of secrets crucial to the security of the kingdom – bare [...]

Series: The Farseer Trilogy: Book 2
Published: 1996

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.2 | 3 positive reader reviews

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Assassin's Quest

by Robin Hobb

With the king no longer living and the heir, Verity, missing and declared dead, Prince Regal has treacherously seized the throne. Regal’s torture has left Fitz more d [...]

Series: The Farseer Trilogy: Book 3
Published: 1997

Score: 105

Our rating: 9.8 | 7 positive reader reviews

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Ship of Magic

by Robin Hobb

On the northernmost point of the Cursed Shores lies Bingtown, a bustling hub of exotic trade and home to a proud merchant nobility famed for its extraordinary vessels. Only [...]

Series: The Liveship Traders: Book 1
Published: 1998

Score: 100

Our rating: 9.7 | 4 positive reader reviews

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The Mad Ship

by Robin Hobb

Althea Vestrit has found a new home aboard the liveship Ophelia, but lives only to reclaim the Vivacia as her rightful inheritance. However, Vivacia has been captured by th [...]

Series: The Liveship Traders: Book 2
Published: 1998

Score: 102

Our rating: 9.9 | 3 positive reader reviews

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Ship of Destiny

by Robin Hobb

The dragon, Tintaglia, has been released from her wizardwood coffin, only to find that the glories of her kingdom have passed into ancient memory. Meanwhile, Malta Vestrit [...]

Series: The Liveship Traders: Book 3
Published: 2000

Score: 97

Our rating: 9.5 | 2 positive reader reviews

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Shaman's Crossing

by Robin Hobb

Nevare Burvelle was destined from birth to be a soldier. The second son of a newly anointed nobleman, he must endure the rigors of military training at the elite King's [...]

Series: The Soldier Son Trilogy: Book 1
Published: 2005

Score: 93

Our rating: 9.0 | 3 positive reader reviews

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Forest Mage

by Robin Hobb

The King's Cavalla Academy has been ravaged by the Speck plague. The disease has decimated the ranks of both cadets and instructors, and even the survivors remain sickl [...]

Series: The Soldier Son Trilogy: Book 2
Published: 2006

Score: 91

Our rating: 9.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

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City of Dragons reader reviews

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

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