The dragon keepers and the fledgling dragons are forging a passage up the treacherous Rain Wild River. They are in search of the mythical Elderling city of Kelsingra, and are accompanied by the liveship Tarman, its captain, Leftrin, and a group of hunters who must search the forests for game with which to keep the dragons fed. With them are Alise, who has escaped her cold marriage to the cruel libertine Hest Finbok in order to continue her study of dragons, and Hest’s amanuensis, Bingtown dandy, Sedric.
Rivalries and romances are already threatening to disrupt the band of explorers: but external forces may prove to be even more dangerous. Chalcedean merchants are keen to lay hands on dragon blood and organs to turn them to medicines and profit. Their traitor has infiltrated the expeditionand will stop at nothing to obtain the coveted body parts. And then there are the Rain Wilds themselves: mysterious, unstable and ever perilous, its mighty river running with acid, its jungle impenetrable and its waterways uncharted.
Will the expedition reach their destination unscathed? Does the city of Kelsingra even exist? Only one thing is certain: the journey will leave none of the dragons nor their human companions unchanged by the experience.
For me, this book was kind of like an inverted Oreo; it had a dry, brittle middle sandwiched by a great beginning and ending.
Dragon Haven picks up where Dragon Keeper left off, with the Tarman, the dragons, and the keepers still trucking up the Rain Wild River in search of Kelsingra, the so-called dragon haven.
The first book spent a lot of time building up to its ending, so the first quarter of Dragon Haven was actually more action-packed than the whole of the first book.
HOWEVER, after that initial period of excitement, things slowed down…a lot. It felt a bit like a soap opera; every single POV character was dealing with romantic issues. I can handle romance in books, but when it’s just chapter after chapter of will they/won’t they for every single character, it gets to be a bit much. There were also some very bizarre and somewhat creepy dynamics between the keepers that really irked me. So, I didn’t enjoy the middle of the book very much at all. Had I not been so blown away by the last few chapters, I probably would have given Dragon Haven 3 stars. However, the ending was so good and exciting, with one revelation after the next, that I almost (but not quite) forgot about the dry bits in the middle. See? Oreo.
Like Dragon Keeper, the highlight of this book was also the character development. Whenever I read one of Robin Hobb’s books, I know that if there’s a character I hate, she’ll most likely end up making me fall in love with them by the end of the series. Dragon Haven was no exception. In addition, not only did the human characters develop, but the dragons did as well! I loved seeing how the relationships between the dragons and their keepers strengthened, and how each side benefited from that relationship.
In all, Dragon Haven was definitely one of the weakest Realm of the Elderlings books I’ve read so far. That being said, Robin Hobb is such a phenomenal writer that even her weaker books are equivalent to the best books written by many other authors, so it was still a pretty good read.