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Forest Mage

Robin Hobb

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Voyager

Published : 2006

Copyright : Robin Hobb 2006

ISBN-10 : HB 0-00-719615-6
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-00-719615-9

Publisher's Write-Up

The second book in a brand new trilogy from the author of the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies, following on from the bestselling Shaman's Crossing.

The King's Cavalla Academy has been ravaged by the Speck plague. The disease has decimated the ranks of both cadets and instructors, and even the survivors remain sickly. Many have been forced to relinquish their military ambitions and return to their families to face lives of dependency and disappointment.

As the Academy infirmary empties, Cadet Nevare Burvelle also prepares to journey home, to attend his brother Rosse's wedding. Far from being a broken man, Nevare is hale and hearty after his convalescence. He has defeated his nemesis, Tree Woman and freed himself of the Speck magic that infected him and attempted to turn him against his own people. A bright future awaits him as a commissioned officer betrothed to a beautiful young noblewoman.

Yet his nights are still haunted by dreams of the voluptuous Tree Woman, dreams in which his Speck self betrays everything he holds dear in his waking life. Has the plague infected him in ways far more mysterious than the merely physical? Despite his fears, Nevare will journey back to Widevale in high spirits, in full expectation of a jubilant homecoming and a tender reunion with his beautiful fiancee, Carsina. But his life is about to take a shocking turn, as the magic in his blood roars to life and forces him to recognize that his most dangerous enemy, an enemy that seeks to destroy all he loves, might dwell within him. Yon.

'Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers...her novels (are) as addictive as morphine.'

The Times
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (180906) Rating (7/10)

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Review by Chrissi
Rating 7/10
This book opens with Nevare having recovered from the plague and done battle with the Tree Woman, and travelling home from the Cavalla Academy for his brother’s wedding. Nevare has gained weight since last we saw him, and is extremely uncomfortable with his new size, initially assuming that he is due for a natural growth spurt, but upon arriving home, his father believes that his son has become a glutton and is outraged that Nevare could do such a thing. Nevare tries to show his father that it is not because he has overindulged but is a result of his recuperation from the plague.

Nevare’s father is not a very nice man and resolves to force Nevare to lose the weight, starting with hard manual labour for the four days before his brother’s wedding. Nevare does this honestly, but is unable to wear his dress uniform for the wedding, feeling that he cannot meet his beloved Carsina without embarrassment. Throughout the festivities Nevare is ostracised and made a figure of fun, culminating in an agonising meeting with Carsina who is extremely rude to him, leading him to tell her that before she dies she must beg forgiveness on her knees. This shocks Nevare, as he would never have been so rude or thoughtless to anyone before, and shows that he is not entirely free of the influence of the other version of him who lived with the Tree Woman and her magic.

At this point comes the worst possible news, a letter from the Cavalla Academy granting Nevare an Honourable Discharge due to his weight. His father is appalled, and feels that Nevare has done this on purpose, to try to shirk his duty as the soldier son. He resorts to more extreme measures to cause Nevare to lose the weight. Even a forced diet and being locked away in his room does not diminish his girth, until the plague finds all the other members of his household stricken and Nevare is faced with an ineffectual father who is unable to manage the dreadful tasks of burying his family. Nevare and his sister Yaril are the only remaining children and are left to try to run the household, and after an initial improvement in their circumstances, Nevare’s father accuses him of trying to usurp the position of his dead first born heir. In the following argument, Nevare is disowned and leaves his family home.

Travelling to Gettys, the end of the great road, Nevare enlists in the army, and is tasked with preventing the desecration of the cemetery. Placed close to the huge forest and filled with plague victims, Nevare tries to make the best of his lot but the proximity of the forest leads to disturbing experiences brought by the magic of the Forest people. They believe that Nevare, despite not being born of them, is a Great One, one fat through the absorption of magic. Nevare is unable to recognise this and rebels against the magic, despite being told that he has been forced to this position because he has not accepted his true status, and that the magic will have its way.

Nevare continues to be a most engaging character, trying to do his best although circumstances develop around him which cause great difficulties. He has a difficult time, experiencing the change in people’s attitudes towards him, from being an attractive young person to a large man, and finds this very difficult. It is interesting to read about a character such as this, because he is judged on his appearance only, something that we know happens although we try to deny it.

Mistreated and accused unjustly, Nevare’s situation becomes very perilous, which forces him to accept that his destiny lies not within himself, but where the magic will. This leaves us, the readers, waiting for the true story of Nevare, and the final part of the trilogy.
Chrissi (18th September 2006)

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