Shaman's Crossing (Soldier Son Series #1) by Robin Hobb, Audiobook (CD) | Barnes & Noble
Shaman's Crossing

Shaman's Crossing

3.9 77
by Robin Hobb

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Nevare Burvelle is the second son of a second son, destined from birth to carry a sword. The wealthy young noble will follow his father—newly made a lord by the King of Gernia—into the cavalry, training in the military arts at the elite King's Cavella Academy in the capital city of Old Thares. Bright and well-educated, an excellent horseman with an


Nevare Burvelle is the second son of a second son, destined from birth to carry a sword. The wealthy young noble will follow his father—newly made a lord by the King of Gernia—into the cavalry, training in the military arts at the elite King's Cavella Academy in the capital city of Old Thares. Bright and well-educated, an excellent horseman with an advantageous engagement, Nevare's future appears golden.

But as his Academy instruction progresses, Nevare begins to realize that the road before him is far from straight. The old aristocracy looks down on him as the son of a "new noble" and, unprepared for the political and social maneuvering of the deeply competitive school and city, the young man finds himself entangled in a web of injustice, discrimination, and foul play. In addition, he is disquieted by his unconventional girl-cousin Epiny—who challenges his heretofore unwavering world view—and by the bizarre dreams that haunt his nights.

For twenty years the King's cavalry has pushed across the grasslands, subduing and settling its nomads and claiming the territory in Gernia's name. Now they have driven as far as the Barrier Mountains, home to the Speck people, a quiet, forest-dwelling folk who retain the last vestiges of magic in a world that is rapidly becoming modernized. From childhood Nevare has been taught that the Specks are a primitive people to be pitied for their backward ways—and feared for their indigenous diseases, including the deadly Speck plague, which has ravaged the frontier towns and military outposts.

The Dark Evening brings the carnival to Old Thares, and with it an unknown magic, and the first Specks Nevare has ever seen .. .

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Shaman's Crossing, the first book in a trilogy by Robin Hobb, is equal parts military fantasy, spiritual journey, and coming-of-age tale. Protagonist Nevare Burvelle, the second son of one of Gernia's new noble families, is destined to wield the sword for his kingdom. But when a life-altering mystical encounter with a savage plainsman opens up his mind to the reality around him, Nevare's perception of his provincial culture, his ruthless military academy, and the pagan tribes being uprooted and destroyed by the ever-expanding kingdom of Gernia changes him in ways that he can barely comprehend…

Being born the second son of a nobleman has fated Nevare to the strictly regimented life of a soldier. Even in childhood, his father incessantly instructed him and taught him the harsh lessons of warfare. But when Nevare's father hires a stoic plainsman warrior -- an avowed enemy of Gernia -- to tutor his son in the austere ways of the nomadic savages, Nevare's life truly changes forever. While living with the razor-toothed plainsman in the wilderness, Nevare experiences an extraordinary vision: one that opens up to him a surreal otherworld filled with powerful shamans with shadowy agendas…

Fans of Hobb's previous works (the Liveship Traders trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy, et al.) will be completely bowled over by her newest saga. Featuring an unfathomably deep hero in a vast, wild realm filled with dark mysticism and strong supernatural undercurrents, Shaman's Crossing is the beginning of what could easily be Hobb's best work to date -- Terry Brooks meets Carlos Castañeda. Paul Goat Allen

In this first book of the Soldier Son Trilogy, a younger son embarks on an interior "hero's journey." Nevare Burvelle is the second son of a Gernian "New Lord" of the East. In Gernia's highly structured society, first sons of the nobility inherit the title, second sons join the military, and third sons the clergy, with birth order determining one's career path. Daughters either marry or enter religious orders. Destined from birth to be a soldier, Nevare dreams of serving his country. In this fascinating tale of a world where honor, duty, and an unthinking submission to custom have prevailed for centuries, Nevare's ideals are pitted against the actual corrupt society in which he really lives. As a military cadet, Nevare finds that many students from the old nobility consider him and others of the "new" nobility fair game for hazing and worse. He survives, barely, through help from the gods of the Plainspeople, who are resisting Gernian expansion. Nevare finds himself questioning his loyalty to Gernia as he begin his military service as a despised "Scout" on the fringes of Gernian expansion. Through the eyes of both Nevare and his female cousin Epiny, Hobb demonstrates the rigidity of Gernia's caste system and the hypocrisy within it. As Nevare and Epiny question their societal roles, the reader questions with them. This multilayered work is a fast-moving fantasy adventure with philosophical and moral underpinnings and is highly recommended for high school libraries. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2005, Eos/HarperCollins, 277p., Ages15 to Adult.
—Marsha Valance
Library Journal
Accompanying his newly made noble father to the new lands acquired by the nation of Gernia, young Nevare Burvelle aspires to bring the benefits of civilization to the primitive inhabitants. When he attends the King's Cavalry Academy after coming of age, Nevare finds that many students there consider him and others of the "new nobility" little more than backwoods yokels. To make matters worse, he finds the subtle magic of the plains tribes insinuating itself into his belief system, leading him to question his loyalty to Gernia. Displaying Hobb's gift for creating unusual and compelling worlds ("the Tawny Man" trilogy), this latest series opener maintains her high standard of storytelling and belongs in most fantasy collections. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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The Soldier Son Trilogy

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Shaman's Crossing

Book One of The Soldier Son Trilogy
By Robin Hobb

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Robin Hobb
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060757620

Chapter One

Magic and Iron

I remember well the first time I saw the magic of the Plainspeople.

I was eight and my father had taken me with him on a trip to the outpost on Franner's Bend. We had arisen before the dawn for the long ride; the sun was just short of standing at noon when we finally saw the flag waving over the walls of the outpost by the river. Once Franner's Bend had been a military fort on the contested border between the Plainspeople and the expanding kingdom of Gernia. Now it was well within the Gernian border, but some of its old martial glory persisted. Two great cannons guarded the gates, but the trade stalls set up against the mud-plastered stockade walls behind them dimmed their ferocity. The trail we had followed from Widevale now joined a road that picked its way among the remains of mud-brick foundations. Their roofs and walls were long gone, leaving the shells gaping at the sky like empty tooth sockets in a skull. I looked at them curiously as we passed, and dared a question. "Who used to live here?"

"Plainspeople," Corporal Parth said. His tone said that was his full reply. Rising early did not suit his temperament, and I suspected already that he blamed me for having to get out of bed so early.

I held my tongue for a time, but then the questions burst out of me. "Why are all the houses broken and gone? Why did they leave? I thought the Plainspeople didn't have towns. Was this a Plainspeople town?"

"Plainspeople don't have towns, they left because they left, and the houses are broken because the Plainspeople didn't know how to build any better than a termite does." Parth's low-voiced answer implied I was stupid for asking.

My father has always had excellent hearing. "Nevare," he said.

I nudged my horse to move up alongside my father's taller mount. He glanced at me once, I think to be sure I was listening, and then said," Most lainspeople did not build permanent towns. But some, like the Bejawi folk, had seasonal settlements. Franner's Bend was one of them. They came with their flocks during the driest part of the year, for there would be grazing and water here. But they didn't like to live for long in one place, and so they didn't build to last. At other times of the year, they took their flocks out onto the Plains and followed the grazing."

"Why didn't they stay here and build something permanent?"

"It wasn't their way, Nevare. We cannot say they didn't know how, for they did build monuments in various locations that were significant to them, and those monuments have weathered the tests of time very well. Someday I shall take you to see the one called Dancing Spindle. But they did not make towns for themselves as we do, or devise a central government, or provide for the common good of their people. And that was why they remained a poor, wandering folk, prey to the Kidona raiders who preyed on them and to the vagaries of the seasons. Now that we have settled the Bejawi and begun to teach them how to maintain villages and schools and stores, they will learn to prosper."

I pondered this. I knew the Bejawi. Some of them had settled near the north end of Widevale, my father's holdings. I'd been there once. It was a dirty place, a random tumble of houses without streets, with garbage and sewage and offal scattered all around it. I hadn't been impressed. As if my father could hear my thoughts, he said, "Sometimes it takes a while for people to adapt to civilization. The learning process can be hard. But in the end, it will be of great benefit to them. The Gernian people have a duty to lift the Bejawi folk and help them learn civilized ways."

Oh. That I understood. Just as struggling with math would someday make me a better soldier. I nodded and continued to ride at his stirrup as we approached the outpost.

The town of Franner's Bend had become a traders' rendezvous where Gernian merchants sold overpriced wares to homesick soldiers and purchased handmade Plains goods and trinkets from the bazaar for the city markets in the west. The military contingent there, with its barracks and headquarters, was still the heart of the town, but the trade had become the new reason for its existence. Outside the fortified walls a little community had sprung up around the riverboat docks. A lot of common soldiers retired there, eking out their existence with handouts from their younger comrades. Once, I suppose, the fort at Franner's Bend had been of strategic importance. Now it was little more than another backwater on the river. The flags were still raised daily with military precision and a great deal of ceremony and pomp. But as my father told me on the ride there, duty at Franner's Bend was a "soft post now," a plum given to older or incapacitated officers who did not wish to retire to their family homes yet.

Our sole reason for visiting was to determine if my father could win the military contract for sheepskins to use as saddle padding. My family was just venturing into sheepherding at that point in time, and he wished to determine the real market for them before investing too heavily in the silly creatures. Much as he detested playing the merchant, he told me, as a new noble he had to establish the investments that would support his estate and allow it to grow. "I've no wish to hand your brother an empty title when he comes of age. The future Lord Burvelles of the east must have income to support a noble lifestyle. You may think that has nothing to do with you, young Nevare, for as a second son, you must go to be a soldier.


Excerpted from Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb Copyright © 2005 by Robin Hobb.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robin Hobb is the author of the Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies. She has also written as Megan Lindholm. She currently resides in Tacoma, Washington.

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Shaman's Crossing 3.9 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 77 reviews.
Vanguard-TM More than 1 year ago
I have read some really negative reviews about this series. I was even told to skip it completely. But I rarely do as I am told and wanted to make up my own mind. The first book is good. Not great. But not as bad as I was lead to believe. The writing is good. The characters are real although they do fall short of being truly likable. I recommend reading the Farseer series first. And saving this one for last or near to last. But if you're a fan I think you might find something here to like.
kayek1 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, even though Navarre was not my favorite character. He was trying so hard to be the perfect son and perfect soldier son that sometimes what he did was more wrong than right. He also tried so hard to fight the Speck magic that threatened not only to take his soul, but make it impossible to be the perfect son. However, it was an interesting look into a young boy to man's journey. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next book has in store for Navarre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This real departure for Hobb. It is really dark and wrestles with big, ugly issues around race, colonization, and ecology, If you are an Octavia Butler fan, this is for you. If you like dragons and a more conventional narrative, read her next Rainwild series instead.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This does not hold up the high standards I expected from Robin Hobb. It obsesses about the soldier son fact to the point of ad nausea. All the military information makes the book extremely slow and not in a good way. The female characters were bland and so were many of the males. The story line had little action that was interesting. Still, it was slightly gripping and was a decent book, but certainly not her best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished this book about three weeks ago and Im stiil raving over it. Ive given it to a couple of big reader friends and they all rave over it as well. I couldn't find a better book. The politics in it are something else and you can almost see the sceans concerning the Tree Woman and the Dark Night. Killer good book and recomend it to any reader!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was okay, for a fantasy beginner. It was boring though, and very hard to get into. I might be a little biased, having read Hobb's other books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A successful novel requires a well-laid background to support the premise and characterizations the author is promoting. Robin Hobb does just that in SHAMAN'S CROSSING, with intensity. Hobb's attention to writing a novel with an 'ease-of-flow grasp' of the building backdrop is meticulously nurtured for the reader's benefit. The story of Nevare Burvelle and his journey promises page-to-page consistency, propelling the reader's interest forward as the story builds and unfolds. Nevare Burvelle is the second son destined from birth to carry a sword, a 'soldier's second son', the heritage from his once-soldier father who was made a noble by the King of Gernia. Nevare's destiny is to attend the King's Cavella Academy. He prepares during his youth with tutors -- equestrian, studies of mathematics, and the like. At 16, his father gives Nevare to an enemy, a Kidona Plainsman: ruthless Dewara for instruction in survival, and temperament. Dewara leads Nevare on a very painful path both mentally and physically, with some mysticism. Nevare was warned that the Plainspeople use 'tricks'. People who do not ride the Plains of the Midlands say they are 'flat and featureless' and 'roll on endlessly'. Nevare's thoughts have the author Hobb's special touch of expression: 'I had grown up on the Midlands and knew well how deceptive their gentle rises and falls could be. Ravines and sudden crevasses smiled with hidden mouths, just waiting to devour the unwary rider. Even the gentle hollows were often deep enough to conceal mounted men or browsing deer. What the unschooled eye might interpret as scrub brush in the distance could prove to be a shoulder-high patch of sickle-berry, almost impenetrable to a man on horseback.' Nevare narrates¿ As dictated by the 'Writ' , 'I was the son of a noble. 'Of those who bend the knee only to the king, let them have sons in plenitude. The first for an heir, the second to wear the sword, the third to serve as priest, the fourth to labor for beauty's sake, the fifth to gather knowledge¿' and so on. I'd never bothered to memorize the rest of that passage. I had my place and I knew it. I was the second son¿ Nevare enters the cavalla with little knowledge of why the old aristocracy looks down on him as the son of a 'new noble', and is unprepared for the political and social maneuvering of the deeply competitive school and city, especially the 'meanness' of the old nobles' sons. Making a circle of friends within his new noble status, Nevare finds himself entangled in a web of injustice, discrimination, and foul play. And the lessons are painful¿ Hobb's writing is great swords-and-sorcery, with the feeling of modern military schooling and prejudices, and the author's world building is superb and intelligently related to the reader. The heart-thumping, sword-clashing action that Hobb creates, offers a world-class fantasy saga, a heart-rending examination of the consequences of duty and love. Thank you Robin Hobb for an outstanding performance in a wondrous genre, with great narrative sequences.
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The pages flew by as the story is good and keeps you flipping pages
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GLTurner1 More than 1 year ago
A somewhat interesting tale, but I couldn't really get into the story line or the characters that much, although I tried. Makes me miss the Farseer, Liveship, and Tawny Man trilogies even more. *sigh*
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