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.
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.
“In a word: fascinating.”
“Hobb works with a rich palette of fantasy ideas.”