Shaman's Crossing Paperback
by Robin Hobb
Part of the The Soldier Son Trilogy series
The first book in a brand new trilogy from the author of the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies. Young Nevare Burvelle is the second son of a second son.
Traditionally in Gernia, the firstborn son is heir to the family fortunes, the second son bears a sword and the third son is consecrated to the priesthood.
Nevare will follow his father - newly made a lord by the King - into the cavalry; to the frontier and thence to an advantageous marriage, to carry on the Burvelle name.
It is a golden future, and Nevare looks forward to it with relish. For twenty years King Troven's cavalry have pushed the frontiers of Gernia out across the grasslands, subduing the fierce tribes of the plain on its way.
Now they have driven the frontier as far as the Barrier Mountains, home to the enigmatic Speck people.
The Specks - a dapple-skinned, forest-dwelling folk - retain the last vestiges of magic in a world which is becoming progressive and technologised.
The 'civilised' peoples base their beliefs on a rational philosophy founded on scientific principle and a belief in the good god, who displaced the older deities of their world.
To them, the Specks are primeval savages, little better than beasts.
Superstitions abound; it is said that they harbour strange diseases and worship trees.
Sexual congress with them is regarded as both filthy and foolhardy: the Speck plague which has ravaged the frontier has decimated entire regiments. All these beliefs will touch Nevare's training at the Academy; but his progress there is not as simple as he would wish.
He will experience prejudice from the old aristocracy: as the son of a 'new noble' he is segregated into a patrol comprising other new nobles' sons, all of whom will encounter injustice, discrimination and foul play in that hostile and deeply competitive environment.
In addition, his world view will be challenged by his unconventional girl-cousin Epiny; and by the bizarre dreams which visit him at night. And then, on Dark Evening, the circus comes to Old Thares, bringing with it the first Specks Nevare has ever seen...
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 640 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 31/05/2006
- Category: Fantasy
- ISBN: 9780007196142
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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by lewispike
I've just reread this, having bought book 2 and not being sure where we were. I actually find it really hard to give this a rating, as parts of the book are excellent and parts are terrible, at least in my opinion.I think the problem is that the trope of "harsh cadet officer academy" is overplayed. I'm not saying such a situation never existed, but it's laid on too thickly to be plausible. It goes beyond hazing into attempted murder on a number of occasions, and the reasons for it grow thinner and thinner with each repetition.In addition, I'm not sure the apparently dominant culture would survive as described. It's an incredibly strongly caste ridden society believing wholly in predestination (the second son of a noble will be a soldier regardless of all else).Despite these reservations, and I remember them vaguely from the first time of reading, I found I was interested enough in some of the characters and their stories that I want to read book 2, but it's not one of Robin Hobb's best, by quite some way.
Review by surreality
Plot: Coming-of-age in an alternate universe. There are lots of little scenes and plots, but the main plot never gets going. The book serves more as a set-up for the following two volumes of the trilogy than an independent storyline. Characters: The central figure starts out as a nine-year-old and ends the book as being twenty, withthe only perceivable growth being on the physical end. The side characters are off-the-rack stereotypes - the poor friend with the good heart, the physically lacking boy who makes up for it with his mind, the willful, rebelling daughter, the sunnyboy everybody flocks to, the nasty superior... There's very little originality to these figures.Style: It's not as dense as the <i>Farseer</i> trilogy, and it feels as though there is no real purpose to the story. It's as if Hobb was writing for the deadline here and not for the story. There is no life in this book. Plus: Interesting setting at the beginning of industrialization. Minus: The writing is uninspored and drags. Summary: Far from a must-read.