Forest Mage (Soldier Son Series #2)

Forest Mage (Soldier Son Series #2)

by Robin Hobb


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Plague has ravaged the prestigious King's Cavalla of Gernia, decimating the ranks of both cadets and instructors. Yet Nevare Burvelle has made an astonishingly robust recovery, defeating his sworn nemesis while in the throes of the disease and freeing himself—he believes—from the Speck magic that infected him. And now he is journeying home to Widevale, anticipating a tender reunion with his beautiful fiancée, Carsina, and a bright future as a commissioned officer.

But there is no haven in the bosom of his kinfolk, for his nights are haunted by grim visions of treachery—and his days are tormented by a strange side-effect of the plague that shames his family and repulses the lady of his heart. And as the still-potent magic in his blood roars to life, Nevare realizes a terrible truth: that the enemy who seeks to destroy everything he loves dwells perhaps not without but within him.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780007196173
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication date: 07/28/2007
Series: Soldier Son Series , #2
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Robin Hobb was born in California but grew up in Alaska. It was there that she learned to love the forest and the wilderness. She has lived most of her life in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of five critically acclaimed fantasy series: The Rain Wilds Chronicles (Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons, Blood of Dragons), The Soldier Son Trilogy, The Tawny Man Trilogy, The Liveship Traders Trilogy, and The Farseer Trilogy. Under the name Megan Lindholm she is the author of The Wizard of the Pigeons, Windsingers, and Cloven Hooves. The Inheritance, a collection of stories, was published under both names. Her short fiction has won the Asimov's Readers' Award and she has been a finalist for both the Nebula and Hugo awards.

Read an Excerpt

Forest Mage

Book Two of The Soldier Son Trilogy
By Robin Hobb

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Robin Hobb
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060757639

Chapter One

Forest Dreams

There is a fragrance in the forest. It does not come from a single flower or leaf. It is not the rich aroma of dark crumbly earth or the sweetness of fruit that has passed from merely ripe to mellow and rich. The scent I recalled was a combination of all these things, and of sunlight touching and awakening their essences and of a very slight wind that blended them perfectly. She smelled like that.

We lay together in a bower. Above us, the distant top of the canopy swayed gently, and the beaming rays of sunlight danced over our bodies in time with them. Vines and creepers that draped from the stretching branches above our heads formed the sheltering walls of our forest pavilion. Deep moss cushioned my bare back, and her soft arm was my pillow. The vines curtained our trysting place with their foliage and large, pale green flowers. The sepals pushed past the fleshy lips of the blossoms and were heavy with yellow pollen. Large butterflies with wings of deep orange traced with black were investigating the flowers. One insect left a drooping blossom, alighted on my lover's shoulder, and walked over her soft dappled flesh. I watched it unfurl a coiled black tongue to taste the perspiration thatdewed the forest woman's skin, and envied it.

I lay in indescribable comfort, content beyond passion. I lifted a lazy hand to impede the butterfly's progress. Fearlessly, it stepped onto my fingers. I raised it to be an ornament in my lover's thick and tousled hair. She opened her eyes at my touch. She had hazel eyes, green mingling with soft brown. She smiled. I leaned up on my elbow and kissed her. Her ample breasts pressed against me, startling in their softness.

"I'm sorry," I said softly, tilting back from the kiss. "I'm so sorry I had to kill you."

Her eyes were sad but still fond. "I know," she replied. There was no rancor in her voice. "Be at peace with it, soldier's boy. All will come true as it was meant to be. You belong to the magic now, and whatever it must have you do, you will do."

"But I killed you. I loved you and I killed you."

She smiled gently. "Such as we do not die as others do."

"Do you yet live then?" I asked her. I pulled my body back from hers and looked down between us at the mound of her belly. It gave the lie to her words. My cavalla saber had slashed her wide open. Her entrails spilled from that gash and rested on the moss between us. They were pink and liverish-gray, coiling like fat worms. They had piled up against my bare legs, warm and slick. Her blood smeared my genitals. I tried to scream and could not. I struggled to push away from her, but we had grown fast together.


I woke with a shudder and sat up in my bunk, panting silently through my open mouth. A tall pale wraith stood over me. I gave a muted yelp before I recognized Trist. "You were whimpering in your sleep," Trist told me. I compulsively brushed at my thighs, and then lifted my hands close to my face. In the dim moonlight through the window, they were clean of blood.

"It was only a dream," Trist assured me.

"Sorry," I muttered, ashamed. "Sorry I was noisy."

"It's not like you're the only one to have nightmares." The thin cadet sat down on the foot of my bed. Once he had been whiplash-lean and limber. Now he was skeletal and moved like a stiff old man. He coughed twice and then caught his breath. "Know what I dream?" He didn't wait for my reply. "I dream I died of Speck plague. Because I did, you know. I was one of the ones who died, and then revived. But I dream that instead of holding my body in the infirmary, Dr. Amicas let them put me out with the corpses. In my dream, they toss me in the pit grave, and they throw the quicklime down on me. I dream I wake up down there, under all those bodies that stink of piss and vomit, with the lime burning into me. I try to climb out, but they just keep throwing more bodies down on top of me. I'm clawing and pushing my way past them, trying to get out of the pit through all that rotting flesh and bones. And then I realize that the body I'm climbing over is Nate. He's all dead and decaying, but he opens his eyes and he asks, 'Why me, Trist? Why me and not you?' " Trist gave a sudden shudder and huddled his shoulders.

"They're only dreams, Trist," I whispered. All around us, the other first-years who had survived the plague slumbered on. Someone coughed in his sleep. Someone else muttered, yipped like a puppy, and then grew still. Trist was right. Few of us slept well anymore. "They're only bad dreams. It's all over. The plague passed us by. We survived."

"Easy for you to say. You recovered. You're fit and hearty." He stood up. His nightshirt hung on his lanky frame. In the dim dormitory, his eyes were dark holes. "Maybe I survived, but the plague didn't pass me by. I'll live with what it did to me to the end of my days. You think I'll ever lead a charge, Nevare? I can barely manage to keep standing through morning assembly. I'm done as a soldier. Done before I started. I'll never live the life I expected to lead."

Trist stood up. He shuffled away from my bed and back to his. He was breathing noisily by the time he sat down on his bunk.

Slowly I lay back down. I heard Trist cough again, wheeze, and then lie down. It was no comfort to me . . .


Excerpted from Forest Mage by Robin Hobb Copyright © 2006 by Robin Hobb. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Forest Mage 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I put down Forest Mage I was deeply disappointed, and had the sinking feeling that I'd just read a 700-page book in which nothing of consequence happened. In retrospect, this wasn't true, but it certainly felt like it because for the last 300 pages, there is very little development, and the ending was horrifically predictable. Nevare made stupid decision after stupid decision, and even when you can see problems coming down the road with 200 pages left to read, Nevare does nothing until they blow up in his face. Hobb, whose Farseer Trilogy remains my favorite trilogy of all time, even steals one of the plot devices she used in the second book of that trilogy to end this one. I'll still read the third book of the series, but I think 200-300 pages could have been cut from this book. While those pages were used to establish Nevare's character, I think I would have liked him better if I didn't read those 200 pages of him either whining or procrastinating.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All right, the majority of the reviews here bash this book and say its slow and depressing. In that, they are right. But, as you read, it is clear that all of the action is building up and up and up, and in the last few chapters, it explodes and leaves you going 'WHAT???' Robin Hobb has crafted this book to draw out and enlarge the conflict(s) that Nevare has to confront, and how in the end he cannot run away from them try though he might. Bascially, this second book in the series lays the groundwork for the explosive conclusion to this trilogy that I personally cannot wait for. My theory is that you have to wade through the unpleasantness first to get the gold.
CKmtl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although it takes a while to get there, I really enjoyed the development of the magic system and the initial peeks into the Speck society. The gorier moments also appealed to my horror-fan side.Nevare's introspection and inertia features heavily in the second book of the Soldier Son trilogy.I think the degree to which a reader will enjoy the book depends a lot on their ability or willingness to, for lack of a better term, inhabit the character: to sit inside Nevare's head and let him think/act as he will, without letting external preconceptions of what he should or shouldn't think or do.
DavidBurrows on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written. Very nice flow to the story and it keeps you wanting to read more. Not a great deal happens though and you end up very frustrated at the main character.
stubbyfingers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nevare has the life he's always dreamed of lined up for him and ready to go. He's handsome and strong, he's in the academy to become an officer in the cavalry, he has a family that's proud of him and he has a beautiful young lady waiting to become his wife. But then, as this book, the second in a trilogy, opens, his entire life begins to slowly unravel and turn inside out. This is an interesting story filled with characters I could easily empathize with, but I think at over 700 dense pages it was just too long for its own good. Most of the action in this story takes place within Nevare's mind as battles of will power and trips into the dream world. It's a powerful cautionary tale of the evils of intolerance with a heart wrenching ending that makes me want to read the final book in this trilogy no matter how much slogging I had to do to get through the first two. If you didn't enjoy the first book in this trilogy, you probably won't enjoy this one either. This one is even slower but much deeper.
clstaff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I spoke to a fellow fantasy fan, who said that of all the Hobb trilogies, Soldiers Son Trilogy was her least favourite. While I cant really say which of Hobbs trilogies are my favourite I can see why this one may not be her best. It is not as action packed as some of the others. Even still, I am loving this trilogy and highly recommend it to fantasy readers. Hobb, Hobb, Hobb.
tundra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as I'd hoped I would. My least favorite Robin Hobb.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The whole premise of the world's magic as something external with its own goals and values that uses people as it sees fit, was disturbing. The idea of stuffing people with food so that they can better serve this magic is also disturbing. The politics I was enjoying in the first books was abandoned here.
Jellyn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started this series twice. And then hadn't even remembered that I'd finally finished the first book. It took skimming it to realize I had. I feel like the series had a slow start. It picked up once the main character got to the military academy. I like military academy books.Unfortunately, he's not in the academy for long in this book. But it wasn't a hard read anyway. This is the third book I read on my new Sony E-Reader, and one I borrowed from the library through Overdrive. So the 646 pages number was always sitting at the bottom of the screen. Either mocking me or urging me on, I'm not sure which.An interesting feature of this book is that the main character gets fat, in a society that doesn't see a lot of that. He has to learn not only to cope with the fat, but with how his family, friends, and society as the whole views him now. At first, inside, he feels like he always has. But then as people react differently to him, that forces a change in him in reaction to the reactions.And, well, I just found that really interesting.This is part 2 of a trilogy, so while the book did have an ending point, it wasn't a very satisfactory one. But I don't dread reading the third book. Though as I expect it to also be long, I will need to take a deep breath first.
lewispike on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another book in this series I find it really hard to review. The story is fairly straightforward, indeed often rather predictable, I just struggle with too many of the characters.We're supposed, fairly obviously, and if we don't get the idea, it's spelt out several times, to believe that the magic alters people around Nevare to get him to the end of the road so he can save the Specks. This might be plausible, but we don't really see and understand enough of the characters that we need to to see this as a change - it just seems random and frankly poorly written.However it happens, Nevare gets there and... vacillates some more. In his defence he protests that the magic never tells him what he should do. This is fair comment, we see everything else and not that, and he's right. There is, in the penultimate chapter a comment that if he'd done the right thing and joined the Specks he'd have been fed right and maybe it would have been OK. Perhaps that's true.He changes so abruptly between lots of magic, save the People, the forest is great, and must do my duty, must be a soldier and back it's frankly dizzying. It's quite clear that Nevare is meant to be showing the tug between his old life and dreams and the life the magic wants for him, but ARGH he needs to commit one way or the other.DESPITE all this, there are good points. There are times he's a likable, honourable fellow in both codes, more or less. His relationship with Amzil is nicely drawn out and works because of the rough bits the missteps and all the rest.No idea if I'll bother with book 3 though and that's a shame. I'm guessing I will, just because I want to see how's it finally all finished.
xicanti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've gotta say, I'm hella disappointed.This was a decent book. That's all. It wasn't breathtaking or engaging or mindblowing, or anything else that Hobb's books usually are. There were a few stunningly beautiful moments where I felt for Nevare with every fibre of my being... but they were too few, and there was far too much Other Stuff between them. In the end, this was just a book about a guy who had some magically-motivated problems.Hobb opens with summary. Pages and pages of summary. We hear, once again, exactly what happened in Shaman's Crossing. Having finished the book the night before, I found this tedious. And then, just as things were starting to pick back up, Hobb shifted the tone completely. This was no longer the book I'd expected to read, and the transition was completely jarring. Nevare doesn't undergo a slow change; instead, his world flips upside down overnight, with minimal buildup. I didn't feel like it was handled well at all. It shook me straight out off the story and made it difficult to sink back in.As was the case with the first book, I had trouble figuring out just what I should be rooting for here. Did I want Nevare to regain his former physique, get a swank commission and marry some vapid bimbo? Not really... but he wanted it so badly that I thought perhaps I was way off-base. Did I want him to give in to the magic and betray his country, then? Again, not really. I'd have been disappointed in either outcome I sort hoped he'd find a happy medium between the two, but I didn't really have enough invested in it - or in him - that I read on at a frantic pace, desperate to see how things would turn out.Instead, I plodded along. I read perhaps ten pages over the weekend. I couldn't seem to read quickly once the next week came. I just wasn't engaged. With the exception of those few moments I mentioned above, I just couldn't care enough about Nevare to devote my time to this book. Even the world became considerably less engaging as Hobb moved away from the gorgeously depicted upper classes into a rather pedestrian poor sector and a sketchily described forest culture. Blah.The book does have some good points, though. Nevare finally makes some progress on a personal level, and his ethnocentrism fades slowly and organically in response to his experiences on the frontier. The food writing is phenomenally good; it made me want to cook! I personally feel that romance is one of Hobb's weak points, but I do like how she dealt with the one herein. And there really are some beautifully realized scenes in which Nevare's whole world just crashes into the reader like a ton of bricks.But in the end, that wasn't really enough to redeem the book. I can't say as I'm really looking forward to the next one now. I normally prefer to read Hobb's books back to back, but I'm just not sure if I can launch straight into Renegade's Magic.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nevare Burvelle has survived the Speck plague that has decimated the ranks of the King's Cavella Academy. He starts to gain weight, without him actually trying. When he returns home to his family home to attend his brother's wedding he finds nothing but condemnation and a letter following him stating that he has been thrown out of the Academy due to this weight gain. This throws his father into a rage that cascades for Nevare, almost killing him. The story is quite interesting but from time to time there was almost too much information and I just wasn't quite engaged enough to care deeply about some of the characters. I'm looking forward to book 3 in the series to see how this resolves.
noirem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can understand why some people don't like this series, as it is heavy on the introspection and light on the action, but I'm enjoying it. I probably should have reread the first book, or at the very least reread a synopsis somewhere, as book two takes up immediately after book one and, while there is some exposition, it's spread out and light handed. That is, of course, a good thing, but when it's been a year since the first book you tend to forget things.I enjoyed it, but it's not her best series. I should probably give thanks daily that I'm not a protagonist in one of her stories 'cause she is -brutal- to them. It wasn't as bad as Fitz, (I never prayed for Nevare's death as a kindness) but there were still twists that seemed...exceptionally harsh.I see a lot of parallels between the overall story-arch of Farseer and Soldier Son, particularly in the nature of the Gig Obstacle the protagonist has to overcome.
biblioconnisseur on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Second book. She could have left out about 150 pages of fat woes. Otherwise it was good and I look forward to the conclusion.
narikui on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sigh. Unfortunately this book was mired in repitition. It seemed like the main character would figure something out on page X, then AGAIN figure it out on page X+20, ad naseum. The inherent plot was not that bad, I just think we could have cut out around 200 pages..
Tahniask More than 1 year ago
This was outstandingly the worst fantasy I have ever read. The plot was terrible and just went on and on and on. Then at the end of the series it turns out that it's all just erased from his life? He's thin again and his love comes back, etc. etc. I wish I'd never picked it up. That said, I love all her other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wordy and repetitive! Slow character development. Too busy laying groundwork for next book in trilogy! Readable but disappointing if you like a quick pace. Read all three, would not recommend and will not save in my nook or reread!
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kiltpin1 More than 1 year ago
I have become a hardcore Robin Hobb fan. She writes like Van Gogh paints or Emeril Lagasse cooks. You will be sure to experience all of the subtle nuances and rich vivid details as she weaves her stories. I love reading fantasy and I thought that I had read the best, but where as Gabaldon and Paolini are exceptional, Robin Hobb is 'the master'. You will not be disappointed with this or any of her other books. The ultimate experience of course will be to be sure to read any of her trilogy or series books in the proper order as they just continue to build in detail and intensity as they go. Check it out, you won't be sorry.
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