Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb (The Soldier Son Trilogy: Book 1)

It happens far too often that books that are not worthy of wide recognition achieve it, and those that are worthy of it only achieve success in smaller amounts. It is a never ending source of frustration for fans of those books and authors, for they see actual talent being ignored in place of flashy and insubstantial books that do nothing but cater to the lowest common denominator.

It is not a hard leap to guess where I believe Robin Hobb lies in this.

And with her latest series, the Soldier Son trilogy, we once again encounter this appreciation for mediocrity and shunning a work that is intelligent and thoughtful. As I looked through reviews prior to ordering this book of Amazon late last year, I was surprised to find multiple low reviews speaking of repetitiveness, boredom, etc. Yet when I read the book, I found nothing of the sort.

My conclusion was that those who read and disliked Shaman’s Crossing would probably have disliked Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as well.

I say that, because in both books, information is provided. Lots of it. I don’t have a problem with this. I don’t mind a bit of repetition to ensure that the reader has the information properly categorized. And considering that this book is set in an entirely new world from her previous Realm of the Elderling’s, it seems only right that a certain measure of care is taken in educating the reader.

And this is where we hit the problem that many people encounter. They don’t want to be educated. A book – to them – is supposed to be dumb entertainment that doesn’t make them think of stretch their minds. They naturally assume that any review of a book like this that is favorable is paid for by the publishing company (I actually saw this, as a note).

Setting aside all of the negative minutia surrounding Soldier’s Son, I loved this book. We are introduced to the life of Nevare Burvelle, the second son of a new noble. The people of Gernia see their lives dictated by their religion. It is a male focused land, with rules for what each son must do. Common people will see their children follow in their footsteps. However for the noble’s, a strict regiment is outlined: first son inherits the title, the second becomes an officer in the army, the third enters the priesthood, while the fourth becomes an artist.

The first half of the book focuses on the preparation of Nevare for his life as a Soldier. He is the son of a soldier (the means to which his father acquired his newfound nobility) and is preparing to go to the King’s Cavalla Academy.

Following Nevare through the struggles he finds himself in is enthralling. You empathize with the son who quickly finds himself bereft of familial attention and even quicker bereft of family altogether. Swept into an education environment that actually has a ring of reality to it (guess who I don’t like), Nevare quickly finds himself with more to deal with than just a mounting pile of study and intractable school friends.

Hobb once again manages to weave a story that is both intriguing and captivating. If you are looking for an easy read with no imagination or thinking involved, then go pick up Harry Potter or Eragon (aha!). However if you would rather read an author who actually treats you as if you have a brain of your own, then Shaman’s Crossing is definitely for you.

9/10 A story that is both intriguing and captivating.

Review by

3 positive reader review(s) for Shaman's Crossing

Shaman's Crossing reader reviews

from South Africa

I will agree that the information in the first two novels was a lot, and sometimes maybe even boring. BUT - reading the third book made me realise that I would not understand Nevare's deep conflict without the first two books. For me the third book is a tour de force about human consciousness and I just loved it. I was glad I did not give up reading all three. What made me go on reading, was the fact that I have read Hobb's other trilogies and have just learned to trust her writing and portrayal of secondary world's in her fantasy novels. I therefore wish to not rate the first book without considering the whole trilogy.
10/10 ()

from Austria

This is a Robin Hobb book. And that means it is well written, well-researched and well-thought out. The story itself will appeal to adults both young and not quite so young, and the use a young lead character going away to schooling, meeting new friends, making new enemies and the joys and hardships they endure have long been appealing to fantasy readers (A Wizard of Earthsea and Harry Potter being examples, although in Shaman's Crossing the school is of the military type). It is a very good book but I do also understand the criticism it receives, there is little cheer and Navare seems to jump from frying pan to fire with regularity. And I found the dream sequences a little hard to follow. Thankfully the ending provided a little uplift in mood and so I will not hesitate to read the second book, Forest Mage, although I am told poor Navare will not find life easy... Recommended, but keep in mind that its bleakness can be a little overwhelming at times. Oh, and there is a strong environmental message running through that will appeal to many readers.
9/10 ()

from Canada

I really enjoyed this book, I'm doing it for a school project. But what would be the theme to the book?
8/10 ()

I loved this trilogy. I thought that he was mistreated and that i wish he would have done other stuff, and it was confusing sometimes about who I wanted to win and what should happen. But I don't think I would read twice either. Still, I love the ending of the last book, although didn't look to good at first.
7/10 ()

8.6/10 from 5 reviews

All Robin Hobb Reviews