|When I interviewed her last year, Robin said this would be the last book of this set but I’ve noticed on her website that she seems to be ducking the question when people ask her. I wouldn’t object; it would be interesting to see where she might take it. Although to my eye, this story is finished.
The dragons and their keepers have taken possession of Kelsingra. They have also continued defining who and what they are. The elderlings of old found ways to record their memories in stone and Rapskal has immersed himself into one such person; so much so, he seems to be losing his own identity. This is a source of anxiety for Thymara and confuses the issue of who she loves more: Rapskal or Tats. The keepers’ relationships with their dragons are problematic; neither the dragons nor the keepers know any traditions; there’s no guidebook to help them understand what is expected from either. So when the Chalcedeans finally overstep themselves and the dragons decide to go to war, their keepers are sorely unprepared. But I’m a little ahead of the story.
The Duke of Chalced is dying and it was he who had been responsible for much of the tragedy in the past three books. It seems that body parts and fluid from dragons can cure much so the Duke wants it. It was because of him that Sedric followed the dragons in order to steal from them. It was irony that he later became bonded to a dragon and then became an elderling. And it is because of the Duke that Hest, Alise’s husband, continues to search for her, the missing dragons, and the mythical Kelsingra, confident that riches wait for him there. And it is the Duke’s fault that he sent men to ambush a dragon with the intent of killing it that set the war in motion.
Tintaglia caught an arrow under her wing that became infected and she could do nothing about it. She decided to find her long-lost elderlings, Reyn and
, so they could heal her. The trip was long and arduous and, at one point when her injuries laid her low, the Chalcedeans tried their luck at killing her. Even injured, the dragon destroyed them, laying claim to the ships and the slaves. She instructed the survivors to sail to Kelsingra and surrender. But now she is so severely injured, it seems uncertain if she will be able to finish the trip.
At about the same time, Icefyre found himself under attack as well and was so outraged that he flew to Kelsingra to see if there were any surviving dragons to help him get revenge. His story and the attack on Tintaglia convinced the dragons they must take the war directly to Chalced.
is captive of the Duke. The Duke bought him because he was promised that Selden was half-dragon; hoping to harvest body parts or fluid from
since no one is able to bring him a real dragon. As it happens, because
is mostly elderling, his blood is able to bring new life to the Duke. But after a time, there isn’t much left of
And the great mystery of this story is Silver. Silver is an unknown substance that Dragons require to be more than just smart animals. And Silver is what gave the elderlings of old their incredible magic and power. But Silver is unknown now and the memory stones are suspiciously lacking in information about it. Without it, the dragons will never achieve their full potential and the newly-made elderlings will never be able to use the same power and magic as their predecessors.
As usual, Robin Hobb does not disappoint. This was a very intricately plotted story and the characters were vividly drawn. She balances so many characters and plot threads, I am impressed. And the results were well worth waiting for. I hope she can continue to find stories in this universe to enthrall us. ~~ Catherine Book