City of Dragons, by Robin Hobb

Another dragon-themed book — third in what appears to be a tetralogy, The Rain Wilds Chronicles — from one of my favourite fantasy authors. City of Dragons picks up after the events of Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven, with the half-formed dragons and their keepers having finally arrived at the fabled lost city of Kelsingra. But will they ever be able to unlock the city’s secrets? Indeed, given that the recently-hatched dragons can’t even fly, will they ever even be able to cross the river to get there? Or will politics and greed back in the Rain Wilds thwart the plans of a new generation of dragons and Elderlings?

For readers who’ve read the two previous books in the series, and/or other books by Hobb, those questions will tell you everything you need to know about this book. For those who haven’t, they’ll be completely incomprehensible, but then this book is not really the place to start. Out of the fifteen fantasty novels Hobb has published under this name (she has a whole other identity with a slew of other books — very prolific!) twelve of them are linked in some way, all containing elements of the overarching story of the return of dragons to the very Earth-like world in which the stories are set. Those pieces so painstakingly laid in place throughout other novels are coming together now, as the dragons are finally finding their way home — but throughout the compelling storytelling, rich characterization and loving detail that typify all her work, Hobb never loses sight of the recurring question: do humans really want to share the world with dragons?

I can’t wait for the next book, and I’m curious to see not just how the story line of this particular series will be resolved, but whether hints and questions raised in earlier series will come up again.

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