In the haunting conclusion of Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy (after 2006's Forest Mage), Gernian soldier Nevare Burvelle escapes from prison with some help from his lover, Lisana, who divided his soul so that he could become a Speck mage called Soldier's Boy. The two personalities now awkwardly time-share Nevare's body. Using Soldier's Boy's powers, Nevare tries to destroy the Gernian road that threatens to ravage the Specks' forest home, and almost dies from exhaustion. Nursed back to health by Olikea, the Speck woman whose sole duty is to feed him enough to power his magic, Nevare must find a way to keep Gernia from destroying the forest, prevent the Specks from further spreading the plague that has decimated the Gernians and reunite the severed halves of his soul. Hobb's dreamy prose is sometimes weighed down by a confusing magical system and glacial pacing, but she provides a stunning resolution to this epic fantasy about the importance of environmental and social balance. (Feb.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal
Convicted of a crime he did not commit, Nevare Burvelle has fled the town of Gettys and his former soldier comrades for an uncertain future. In desperation he gives in to the Speck magic that dwells within him as a powerful alter ego determined to prevent encroachment upon Speck-held territories. Ultimately, however, Nevare seeks to reconcile his dual nature to bring peace to both sides of his heritage. The author of the "Liveship Traders Trilogy" and the "Farseer Trilogy" brings her latest series to a fitting conclusion. Nevare's journey through war and peace is both timeless and timely and belongs in most libraries.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Hobb is probably one of the best writers of the fantasy genre currently operating. With Robin Hobb you do not get the standard good versus evil story in which every character is one or the other. Instead her characters are believable, human and flawed.”
Kansas City Star
“[A] master fantasist.”
Kevin J. Anderson
“Robin Hobb is one of our very best fantasy writers. Her novels are always fresh, entertaining, and completely engrossing.”
Read an Excerpt
Book Three of The Soldier Son Trilogy
Inever spoke up for myself at my court-martial.
I stood in the box where they put me, and tried not to think of the agonizing bite of the leg irons around my calves. They were too small for a man of my flesh, and the cold iron bit deep into the meat of my legs, burning and numbing at the same time. At the moment, the pain mattered to me more than the outcome of the hearing. I already knew how it would end.
That pain is chiefly what I remember of my trial. It hazes my memories in red. A number of witnesses spoke against me. I recall their righteous voices as they detailed my crimes to the assembled judges. Rape. Murder. Necrophilia. Desecration of a graveyard. My outrage and horror at being accused of such things had been eroded by the utter hopelessness of my situation. Witness after witness spoke against me. Threads of rumor, hearsay from a dead man's lips, suspicions and circumstantial evidence were twisted together into a rope of evidence, stout enough to hang me.
I think I know why Spink never addressed any questions directly to me. Lieutenant Spinrek, my friend since our Cavalla Academy days, was supposed to be defending me. I'd told him that I simply wanted to plead guilty and get it over with. That had angered him. Perhaps that was why he didn't ask me to testify on my own behalf. He didn't trust me to tell the truth and deny all the charges. He feared I'd take the easy way out.
I would have.
I didn't fear the hangman's gibbet. It would be a quick end to a life corrupted by a foreign magic. Walk up the steps,put my head into the noose, and step off into darkness. The weight of my falling body would probably have jerked my head right off. No dangle and strangle for me. Just a quick exit from an existence that was too tangled and spoiled to repair.
Whatever I might have said in my own defense would have made no difference. Wrongs had been done, ugly, evil things, and the citizens of Gettys were determined that someone had to pay for them. Gettys was a rough place to live, a settlement half military outpost and half penal colony on the easternmost boundary of the Kingdom of Gernia. Its citizens were no strangers to rape and murder. But the crimes I was accused of went beyond the spectrum of passion and violence into something darker, too dark even for Gettys to tolerate. Someone had to wear the villain's black cape and pay the toll for such transgressions, and who better than the solitary fat man who lived in the graveyard and was rumored to have doings with the Specks?
So I was convicted. The cavalla officers who sat in judgment on me sentenced me to hang, and I accepted that. I had shamed my regiment. At that moment, my execution seemed the simplest escape from a life that had become the antithesis of every dream I'd ever had. I'd die and be done with disappointment and failure. Hearing my sentence was almost a relief.
But the magic that had poisoned my life was not about to let me go so easily.
Killing me was not enough for my accusers. Evil would be punished with as cruel and vicious a vengeance as they could imagine. Darkness would be balanced with darkness. When the second half of my sentence was pronounced, horror froze me. Before I ascended the gallows to make that final drop, I'd receive one thousand lashes.
I will always recall that stunned moment. The sentence went beyond execution, beyond punishment, to total destruction. As it stripped the flesh from my bones, it would strip away all dignity as well. No man, no matter what his courage, could grit his teeth and keep silent through a thousand lashes. They would mock and jeer me as I shrieked and begged. I would go to my death hating them and myself.
I'd been born to be a soldier. As the second son of a nobleman, I had been decreed by the good god to be a soldier. Despite all that had befallen me, despite the foreign magic that had infected and poisoned me, despite my ejection from the King's Cavalla Academy, despite my father's disowning of me and the scorn of my fellows, I had done my best to serve my king as a soldier. This was what it had earned me. I would scream and weep and plead for mercy before folk who saw me only as a monster. The lash would strip my body naked of both clothing and flesh, exposing the sagging layers of fat that had been their first excuse to hate me. I would faint and be revived with a dash of vinegar on my back. I'd piss myself and dangle helplessly from my manacled wrists. I'd be a corpse long before they hanged my remains. They knew it and so did I.
Even my corrupted and maimed life seemed a better choice than that death. The magic had sought to take me from my own people and use me as a tool against them. I'd fought it. But that final night in my cell, I knew the magic of the Speck folk offered me my only opportunity to save myself. When the magic tore down the walls of my prison, I took the opportunity. I escaped.
But neither the magic nor the good folk of Gettys were done with me. I think the magic knew that I'd given only lip service to my surrender to it. But it demanded all of me, my entire life, with no ties left to bind me to this place and this people, and what I had never given willingly, it now took from me. Renegade's Magic
Book Three of The Soldier Son Trilogy. Copyright © by Robin Hobb. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.