Dragon Keeper by R. Hobb

I’m just as much enamored of fantasy literature than the paranormal, however, I do have to be in the mood for it. I’ve had Robin Hobb’s new novel, Dragon Keeper on my desk for awhile and now I wonder why it has taken me so long to open it. I’ve never read Hobb before, but the world she has invented for her Rain Wilds Chronicles is amazing.

The Trader leadership fears that if it stops providing for the young dragons, the hungry and neglected creatures will rampage—or die along the river’s acidic muddy banks. To avert catastrophe, the dragons decree a move even farther up the treacherous river to Kelsingra, their ancient, mythical homeland whose mysterious location is locked deep within the dragons’ uncertain ancestral memories.

To ensure their safe passage, the Traders recruit a disparate group of young people to care for the damaged creatures and escort them to their new home. Among them is Thymara, an unschooled forest girl of sixteen, and Alise, a wealthy Trader’s wife trapped in a loveless marriage, who attaches herself to the expedition as a dragon expert. The two women share a deep kinship with the dragons: Thymara can instinctively communicate with them, and Alise, captivated by their beauty and majesty, has devoted her life to studying them.

Embarking on an arduous journey that holds no promise of return, the band of humans and dragons must make their way along the toxic and inhospitable Rain Wild River—an extraordinary odyssey that will teach them lessons about themselves and one another, as they experience hardships, betrayals, and joys beyond their wildest dreams.

Whenever you read stories involving dragons, they are always portrayed as strong, magical beings that are far superior than mere mortals.  While the dragons in Dragon Keeper still have the superiority complex, they are far from the perfect beings that I’m used to.  I’m talking about dragons who were all born with some kind of birth defect and none of them can fly.  I think that’s one of the things that dragged me into Hobb’s Rain Wilds world so thoroughly – the fact that it wasn’t just another cookie cutter fantasy world.  That her dragons weren’t perfect.  The dragons did not get to ‘simmer’ long enough in their casings and when they emerged as dragons, they weren’t formed correctly.  Not only did the dragons know that something was wrong, but so did the humans.

But let’s get to the point.  How was Dragon Keeper?  Up to this point, I feel like I’ve been doing a synopsis of the story and that’s not why I’m here.  You can read that anywhere, but not my opinion.  Honestly, a good fantasy novel will suck you in and really boost your imagination.  Dragon Keeper did that for me.  I started thinking about places on Earth where the Rain Wilds could be and what it would be like to live in such a culture.  It was very easy for me to get completely engulfed in Hobb’s world and the story worked exceptionally well.

We’re introduced to the dragons and the world through three very different viewpoints.  Thymara is shunned in the Rain Wilds communities, Alise is an unsatisfied wife looking for adventure and the dragons themselves are unhappy with their lives.  These three voices give their own unique perspectives on the dragon situation and bring a lot more depth to the story than I initially thought it would.  Thymara and Alise have some similar characteristics, but because of their upbringing, those characteristics have very different meanings.  It’s going to be interesting to see how these two evolve by the end of this series (trilogy?).

Overall, I really enjoyed Dragon Keeper. I’ve re-written this review a couple of times because I keep wanting to tell you about all the things that go on, but I really don’t want to spoil anything.  One of the best parts of Dragon Keeper is getting to explore all the different events and areas within the Rain Wilds.  There is a lot of detail, but little info-dumping and the world is very rich and vibrant with life.  There were times I cried, laughed and raged right along with the characters (of course, this could be due to my hormones, but still).  Not only are the characters engaging, but the world is very much one I would love to explore on my own.  If you’re a fan of fantasy, then you’re going to get sucked into Dragon Keeper and won’t want to put it down.

Also reviewed by:
Reading is My Superpower
Fantasy Book Critic
Genre Go Round Reviews

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. Thanks for a great review. I have absolutely loved Robin Hobb’s previous novels and am looking forward to this new series. Your review has put this towards the top of my TBR pile.

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