Hobb (City of Dragons, 2012, etc.) returns to the Elderling city of Kelsingra for the fourth and final installment of the Rain Wilds Chronicles.
In the first three books of Hobb’s series, a dozen dragons hatched centuries after they had been believed to be extinct. Each dragon was paired to an outcast teenager as its dedicated keeper. Through their contact with their dragons, the teenagers began to metamorphose into Elderlings, increasing their life spans while also giving them dragonlike physical characteristics. Accompanied by the crew of the Tarman, a sentient ship similar to those in Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy, dragons and humans set out to find the lost Elderling city of Kelsingra. This book finds them settled into the old city, but now searching for hidden wells of magical silver, which the dragons need to survive and the keepers need to revive the crumbling city to its former glory. To do so, the keepers must immerse themselves in the ancient memories still living within the city—possibly at the risk of losing their own identities. At the same time, they find themselves in danger of imminent attack by the henchmen of a decrepit duke looking to obtain dragons’ blood to restore his vitality. While the previous book in this series was slow-paced and relatively uneventful, Hobb makes up for lost time here. The final third in particular is packed with action, culminating in a thrilling dragon raid on a castle with a daring midair rescue. But for all her skill with action scenes, Hobb’s greatest talent remains rendering very thoughtful, fleshed-out characters, male and female alike. For example, when childhood friends Alise and Sedric stand up to Hest Finbok, the man who bedded and betrayed them, it’s clear how much each character has grown since the beginning of the series.
A satisfying conclusion to a superb fantasy tale.