Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles #1)

Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles #1)

3.8 621
by Robin Hobb

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Too much time has passed since the powerful dragon Tintaglia helped the people of the Trader cities stave off an invasion of their enemies. The Traders have forgotten their promises, weary of the labor and expense of tending earthbound dragons who were hatched weak and deformed. If neglected, the creatures will rampage—or die—so itis decreed that they

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Too much time has passed since the powerful dragon Tintaglia helped the people of the Trader cities stave off an invasion of their enemies. The Traders have forgotten their promises, weary of the labor and expense of tending earthbound dragons who were hatched weak and deformed. If neglected, the creatures will rampage—or die—so itis decreed that they must move farther upriver toward Kelsingra, the mythical homeland whose location is locked deep within the dragons’ uncertain ancestral memories.

Thymara, an unschooled forest girl, and Alise, wife of an unloving and wealthy Trader, are among the disparate group entrusted with escorting the dragons to their new home. And on an extraordinary odyssey with no promise of return, many lessons will be learned—as dragons and tenders alike experience hardships, betrayals...and joys beyond their wildest imaginings.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
“In a novel as good as it is massive, the first of two Rain Wilds Chronicles...Hobb continues to occupy a perch at or near the top among contemporary fantasists. This book is imaginative, literate, and compassionate from first page to last.”
Publishers Weekly
Here be dragons—but debilitated, deformed, damaged dragons, hatched too soon, sick and starving, into a world that has mostly forgotten them. The first of Hobb's Rain Wild Chronicles, an absorbing extension of her Liveship and Tawny Man trilogies, introduces 15 young dragons who struggle to survive with the grudging help of mutant Rain Wilders. Eventually driven out by the Traders Council, the hatchlings decide to seek Kelsingra, their ancient home. Caught up by the dragons' plight and longing to escape unhappy families and the stifling Rain Wild culture, self-taught dragon scholar Alise Kincannon and teenage tree-dwelling mutant Thymara volunteer to accompany them on the quest, with the help of magnetic liveship captain Leftrin and a host of colorful characters. Hobb's meticulously realized fantasy tale is a welcome addition to contemporary dragon lore. (Feb.)
Library Journal
The cocoons spun by the migrating sea serpents have burst open to reveal a new generation of dragons that will wreak havoc on the communities of Bingtown and Cassarick. Council members select humans born with strange physical mutations to help with the problem, as well as an unusual dragon "expert," the unfulfilled wife of a Bingtown Trader. Hobb's two-book miniseries, set in the same world as the "Liveship Traders" and the "Tawny Man" series, continues the tale of an exotic land and the people transformed by its inherent magic. VERDICT Human and dragon characters achieve a remarkable degree of believability in this inventive saga marked by its vivid detail and keen insight into human (and draconic) nature. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/09; the second book, Dragon Haven, pubs May 2010.—Ed.]
Kirkus Reviews
Hobb (Renegade's Magic, 2008, etc.) delivers the first of two dragon-filled fantasies, set in the same world as her popular Liveship Traders trilogy. This inaugural title deals mainly with the swirl of events leading up to a quest to find the legendary city of Kelsingra by a group of sickly, deformed, sentient dragons and their human keepers. A host of human and dragon characters are introduced, but two well-drawn women take center stage: unhappily married Trader Alise, a scholar of dragons; and teenage Thymara, a dragon-keeper who is herself deformed by scaly skin and claws. Hobb does an admirable job of creating a complex and engaging medieval fantasy world, greatly expanding on the Rain Wilds setting she introduced in previous books. Characters from past novels make cameos, but the author takes care to keep her new tale self-contained. She handles with originality and subtlety such traditional fantasy elements as dragons and magical items. The only complaint readers may have is that, after hundreds of pages of buildup, the novel ends abruptly before the main quest really gets going. A nicely imagined fantasy setting that will engage readers and raise anticipation for the second installment.

Time and more time have passed since the dragon Tintaglia helped save the Trader cities from a deadly invasion. In the years since, The Traders have forgotten or ignored their promises to protect the earthbound dragons and their weak, afflicted offspring. Now, threatened with dragon attacks, Trader leaders have resolved to exile the dragons to the creatures' ancestral memories. On their long journey home, the dragons will be escorted by two women, one a young forest girl and the other a wife of a wealthy Trader. Dragon Keeper tells their story. Acclaimed in hardcover; now an inexpensive mass market paperback.

From the Publisher
"Hobb's meticulously realized fantasy tale is a welcome addition to contemporary dragon lore." —Publishers Weekly
"In a novel as good as it is massive, the first of two Rain Wilds Chronicles...Hobb continues to occupy a perch at or near the top among contemporary fantasists. This book is imaginative, literate, and compassionate from first page to last."

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Rain Wilds Chronicles, #1
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.16(h) x 1.16(d)

What People are saying about this

"Hobb's meticulously realized fantasy tale is a welcome addition to contemporary dragon lore." —-Publishers Weekly

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Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Series #1) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 621 reviews.
Scraggles More than 1 year ago
As with the other Robin Hobb books I've read, this first volume of the trilogy gets a fascinating story off to a good start. She introduces the characters, the settings, the world she's created, and clearly has a story to tell. I had great fun reading the earlier books set in this world (Farseer, LiveShip and Tawny Man trilogies), and enjoyed the beginning of this tale quite a lot, but it's clearly just a beginning, with as yet, no middle and no end. Here's hoping the next volumes in this trilogy arrive quickly on the scene. As I read more of her work, I find that certain themes keep reappearing. A character's role in life is proscribed by their gender and family, but somehow they find the strength of character to fumble on, finding their destined place in the world. Charming sociopaths sometimes get their comeuppance, sometimes they get their comeuppance and fulfill their destiny despite themselves. So far in this first volume, there are only hints of the struggles to come. This story starts out in Bingtown, then moves up the Rain Wild river. A few characters from earlier volumes make an appearance, but so far, all the main characters in the story are new to this volume. I've recommended the first volumes in each of her earlier trilogies, since in my view, the trilogies really read like gigantic novels. If you'd like to find a prolific author who can write a novel that stands alone even as it functions well as part of a larger series, seek out the many volumes of the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. Many of her works are combined in omnibus editions, so it's possible to read the entire series without seeking out the earlier (hard to find) single novels.Space opera isn't usually my thing, but I found that series quite entertaining.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Years have passed since the last fatal hatching and the residents of Bingtown and Cassarik have become somewhat complacent as if those who died during the previous infestation never occurred. However, the townsfolk are stunned when the cocoons left behind by the nomadic sea serpents rupture open releasing a new generation of dragons that must be controlled rapidly before they devastate the town towns. These hatchlings seem substandard with many expected to die; those who live must be controlled before their hunger drives them to Cassarik. The Traders Council quickly reacts choosing special humans who contain mutations on their bodies to escort the young dragons to a different locale, the lost city of Kelsingra where they can be controlled easier away from the cities. Among the selected are uneducated teenage Rain Wilds Thymara and overly-educated unhappy dragon guru Alise, wife of a Bingtown Trader. The journey along the deadly Rain Wild River will prove arduous with only the strong surviving. Returning to the Tawny Man world with the first entry of a duology, Robin Hobb provides a superb fantasy. The story line is mostly seen through the eyes of the two women as they face danger and treachery on the quest. In some ways, the opening of Act Three (see the Liveship Traders and the Tawny Man sagas), is a coming of age duet. However, what makes Dragon Keeper a keeper is the cast as the travelers human and dragon seems real while the menaces come from the land, the river and within. Fans will look forward to the finish wondering whether Kelsingra will prove to be a Dragon Haven or hell. Harriet Klausner
Reader42AS More than 1 year ago
To really understand this series, you really need to find and read her earlier series The Farseer Series, and the first Rain Well Series. These books are set in trilogies and develop the background for these. If you have never read them, this series will seem strange. Her Soldier Son trilogy is also excellent. And remember, these books are adult fiction and not meant for the young.
klauver More than 1 year ago
Spoiler Alert! In typical Robin Hobb style she not only twists her story away from the lovely dragon stories of Anne McCaffery and Christopher Paolini but she cracks the egg and scrambles the results! The plot is very unique, but again very much a Robin Hobb story. Much of the story will be very difficult to read if you are expecting the typical dragon/human fantasy of wondrous flights and loving human/dragon bonding. That said, if you have enjoyed as I have, Robin's usual moody atmosphere and mostly unhappy characters that keep you reading hoping for a ray of sunlight amongst all of the angst then you will enjoy this story. I am still unsure where she is going to take us in the next volumes. She provides us with plenty of villains, self serving characters and of course potential reluctant hero's. I am a huge fan of everything that Ms. Hobbs has written, but I keep hoping that one day she'll decide to write a feel good heroic fantasy that will let me go to sleep without worrying about what's going to happen next to my favorite characters!
BethRR More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, it kept me interested and made me feel for the characters. Not your normal book about Dragons, and that made it interesting. I am looking forward to the next in the series.
Joanne Mallary More than 1 year ago
what can i say other then out of every book ive ever read(which is a ton) i adore this book. Robin Hobb is a fantastic writer and her ideas for books continue to stun me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Character development is a good thing, but does it take an entire book just to introduce the characters? Just when all of the characters come together for the quest the book ends. Totally ridiculous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Robin Hobb. I enjoyed her character building and how she described the dragons. Was uncomfortable with some of her character's and really shocked to read about a sexual encounter that left me in unbelief. I would not recommend this book. Love Dragons but some of the character make up could have been left out.
FantasyRider More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book for its character development and twist on the typical "dragon book." I found the plot to be so unique that it makes the book hard to put down. In fact, I purchased the second book in the series halfway through the first. The authors should be applauded for moving out of the typical fantasy fiction theme without mocking the original dragon themes of the epics. Parents of minor readers should be aware that this book does contain undertones of homosexual and heterosexual interactions between the characters. In no way is this an "adult" book but it is for more mature readers. It contains no more mature content than the wildly popular Wicked - which I also love.
Katbooks_ More than 1 year ago
The world created is as much the story as any character. I enjoyed that the secondary characters are given as much life as the main characters. But the way of life,living in the trees and adapting to nature not changing it is really a wonderful point of view. Also how the enviroment effect every part of life.The dragons make you wonder what is next?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After the thoroughly engrossing Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies, I guess I really expected this to blow me away. Not so. I didn't like the switching of viewpoints; I also never really liked any of the characters. I found it very disappointing. Maybe my expectations after reading the other trilogies were too high- who knows?
-Katerina- More than 1 year ago
Not what I was expecting when i thought it was a dragon based book. Small clue should have been at the beginning of the book when saw the index of names of keepers and dragons and short descriptions. (Generally if I see that in a story it means either way too many names to keep track of accurately or that they bounce back and forth from names so hard to get a feel for the character). Disliked that more than halfway thru the book before felt that any real tie to any of the characters. Really find the little bird missives that are used to beginning the chapters silly for lack of a better term as they don't seem to add much to the story. Also would love if someone could explain how the time works - that should have been in the index in my opinion because hard to tell how much time actually has passed based on the chapters.
epow50 More than 1 year ago
I love Robin Hobb books. I have read 12 so far. My only complaint is the expense of reading that many books. This series follows the Liveship Traders series, introducing new characters that you will love, as well as some favorites from Liveship Traders. Yes, there is a rape scene, but not quite what was described by some in other reviews. In fact, I put off reading this series because of those reviews. I am so happy I became desperate for something to read and gave it a chance. I am anxiously awaiting the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was slow going at the beginning but once the main character, Alise, started on her journey, I was hooked. This is no Dragon Riders of Pern. Robin Hobb writes about a harsh world with even harsher characters. I like it.
cjmMS More than 1 year ago
can't wait to start the next one. great characters and plot
m17a1 More than 1 year ago
I consumed this book with single minded determination. I couldn't put it down.
Kate2World More than 1 year ago
These are not your everyday magnificent fire-breathing dragons roaming the skies, nor are their keepers average mortals. The dragons hatched too early in the toxic Rain Wilds river, each malformed and unable to fly or to hunt their own food. The forest people who live over the river are charged with tending their needs, but grow weary of the cost and fearful the dragons will turn on them. The villagers select keepers to escort the dragons to their mythical homeland upriver, recalled in the dragons' ancestral memories. Thymara, marked by the river with claws for hands and feet, is one of the keepers, who each accept the challenge to tend the dragons as they embark on their journey. The other keepers are also marked by the river, each in their own way, setting them apart from their fellows. They are joined by mortals who each have their own separate reasons for making the journey, Alise, who has studied the history of dragons and her companion, and a ship's captain manning a liveship. Each has his own reason for making the journey, some open and others kept secret. Along the way, the dragons and their keepers grow to not only tolerate each other, but accept each other and learn to rely on each other. Although the story builds upon prior series by the author relating to the Dragons and the River Dwellers I have yet to read, I was swiftly engaged by the river dweller keepers and the dragons both. I would rate this book a 4 because of the multiple story lines among the mortals, some of which feel forced and pull me for a moment out of the adventure. I am eager to read Volume 2 of the Chronicles and I recommend Dragon Keeper to both adults and young adults who would enter a fantastical place where dragons and mortals are anything but ordinary.
Sydney Hensler More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A sad world filled with trapped characters. It reads like a long prologue.
avilesfam2 More than 1 year ago
the charactes were great and the plot kept you from putting the book down wish it was longer.looking foward to Dragon Heaven.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book totally engrossing, and read it over the course of two days. Can't wait for installment #2 to come out!
Marilyn40 More than 1 year ago
This author writes in a way that gives you the full feeling that you do not want this book to end. All of his books are this way and I do not even think of it before picking it out. the only reason I would check a sample is to be sure I had not already read his book. It is a very original story and has a great plot. I feel like it is a book that can be read by any age and enjoyed. If you try it you will like it. I believe I have read every one of his books out at this time and I'm looking forward to the new one in May.
jkusters More than 1 year ago
Taking place in the aftermath of both the Liveships books and the Tawny Man books, the book chronicles the adventures of an unusual group of people banded together to help newly-hatched dragons find a mythical city of the Elderlings. It's well written, and has some interesting characters, but ultimately it ends well before anything is resolved. This is too much a "part one of two" as it ends shortly after setting up the overarching story's premise. Many of the primary characters start off the book as people buffeted by forces around them. Alise, a woman with few prospects, finds herself in a terrible marriage with a man is more interested in his male secretary than his wife. She has made herself into an expert on all things Dragon, and takes a desperate trip to see them before they head off. Tensions mount as she is paired up with her husband's secretary (and lover?) as a chaperone, but he has secret plans of his own. The other major character is Thymara, a Rain Wilds young woman who is heavily marked by the mutating power of her homeland. She has no prospects for marriage, and though her father loves her, her mother can't stand the sight of her. She volunteers for "Dragon Keeper" duty on the trip, and struggles with teenage social dynamics while trying to understand and help her new charge. Unfortunately, both of these main characters come across as terribly naive. They are surrounded both by people who will take advantage of them, and people who will help them. Alise and Thymara both seem to have trouble telling which ones to ally with. By the end of this first book, it's pretty obvious to the reader who can be trusted and who can't, but it's likely that the heroines will only be finding out the hard way. By the end of this book, it felt like the story really had just begun. All of the major pieces are in place now, and the story is ready to build into the inevitable conflicts. It feels as though we're about a third of the way through the story to me. I would have preferred if it had been released as one volume rather than split into two. I'm unsatisfied where this one ended. I hope to be satisfied by the conclusion in book two. One quibble I have with the book, though, is with the characters of Hest (Alise's husband) and Sedric (her husband's secretary and her reluctant chaperone). In today's culture, they might be considered "gay", yet in this book, Hobb dances around the subject, never really confirming that they are indeed lovers. However, she does dress both of them up in pretty bad stereotypes. Both of them are dandies, dressing in the latest fashions, and keeping themselves immaculately spotless. They affect sophisticated airs yet are internally seething with petty jealousies. Hest is cruel, forcing his "friends" to compete for his affection. When Sedrick stands up to him regarding Hest's cruel treatment of his wive, Hest spurns his secretary and takes up with other young men. While I do welcome the inclusion of people of different orientations in fantasy fiction, I'm not thrilled to find them so offensively stereotypical.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dragon Keeper is a 'side-book', a tying off of loose ends from the previous Farseer, Liveship and Tawny Man trilogies. It is solidly a "stand-alone" book, but the richness of the tapestry that Robin Hobb weaves can be much better understood in the context of the previous books. Nine books comprise a large mouthful to consume before Dragon Keeper, so if one must chose only one trilogy for background, the Liveship trilogy is probably best. The rescue of the sea serpents that would emerge as dragons to repopulate the skies was glorious and heroic in the Liveship trilogy, yet the malformed and defective dragons that emerge are not only horribly disappointing, but rapidly become an unanticipated and intolerable economic burden on the Bingtown community. The dragons themselves remain inherently arrogant, totally unappreciative and resentful of their situation, adding to the tragedy. Bluntly, it is a mess. Bingtown's solution is to rid themselves of multiple layers of misfits, the dragons themselves and those most marked by the Rain Wilds, assigned as 'keepers' to the dragons, all embarking on a quest up the river to search for the barely remembered and possibly destroyed city of Kelsingra. The yet unpublished sequel is titled Dragon Haven, but as another review says, it remains to be seen whether Kelsingra can be located and then whether it will be haven or 'hell'. Criticisms in other reviews have been that Dragon Keeper moves too slowly, does not have likeable characters and ends abruptly. My opinion is that they are absolutely wrong. If one has read any other Robin Hobb, this book is Robin at the top of her form. Robin's books are multi-layered, which takes time, but the resulting richness and scope of her weaving is incredible. I was at first disappointed to not have the characters from the Liveship books continuing in main roles, but rapidly fell in love with the new voices, especially Alise (who reminds me a bit of Jennifer Fallon's Arkady from her Tide Lord's series) and Thymara. I was also very happy with the appearances of Paragon, Althea, Brashen and Malta from the Liveship trilogy. Robin can be a bit rough on her main characters, so it was somewhat a relief to have them spared her full attention, it was enough to have the brief visit and know they were all alive and well. Most of Robin's characters have flaws, some much more than others, but I strongly disagree with reviewers who did not like the characters in Dragon Keeper. Yes, Hest and Greft have very little to no gray, my prediction is that they will remain that way, but Sedric. ??? Midway through the book Sedric makes the statement that he just wants life to be 'nice', a very unwise statement to make when Robin Hobb is the author. Another review referred to Sedric as a 'duplicitous worm', but I think Sedric may undergo the most unexpected and extensive changes of all the characters, it remains to be seen whether or not he moves from conflicted and somewhat ambivalently bad to really evil or maybe even reluctantly good. Sedric has marvelous shades of gray, and becomes my most fascinating character at the end with his imbibition of an involuntary conscience. I cannot wait to see which way the balance tips. Dragon Keeper ends on somewhat of a cliff hanger, but to be expected. The good part is that Dragon Haven is due out 11 May 2010, and if only two books (not a trilogy?) then not an interminable wait!!
Anonymous 8 months ago
This was my second reading of the Rain Wilds Chronicles. So far, four novels and one short. Love the series and hope for more novels set in this world. Not only a wonderful science fiction novel, but also a tale of reaching for the freedom and joys denied in life by convention .