Shaman's Crossing (Soldier Son Series #1)

Shaman's Crossing (Soldier Son Series #1)

by Robin Hobb

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Nevare Burvelle was destined from birth to be a soldier. The second son of a newly anointed nobleman, he must endure the rigors of military training at the elite King's Cavella Academy—and survive the hatred, cruelty, and derision of his aristocratic classmates—before joining the King of Gernia's brutal campaign of territorial expansion. The life chosen for him will be fraught with hardship, for he must ultimately face a forest-dwelling folk who will not submit easily to a king's tyranny. And they possess an ancient magic their would-be conquerors have long discounted—a powerful sorcery that threatens to claim Nevare Burvelle's soul and devastate his world once the Dark Evening brings the carnival to Old Thares.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060758288
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/29/2006
Series: Soldier Son Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 162,881
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.25(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

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

Shaman's Crossing

Book One of The Soldier Son Trilogy
By Robin Hobb

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Robin Hobb
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060757620

Chapter One

Magic and Iron

I remember well the first time I saw the magic of the Plainspeople.

I was eight and my father had taken me with him on a trip to the outpost on Franner's Bend. We had arisen before the dawn for the long ride; the sun was just short of standing at noon when we finally saw the flag waving over the walls of the outpost by the river. Once Franner's Bend had been a military fort on the contested border between the Plainspeople and the expanding kingdom of Gernia. Now it was well within the Gernian border, but some of its old martial glory persisted. Two great cannons guarded the gates, but the trade stalls set up against the mud-plastered stockade walls behind them dimmed their ferocity. The trail we had followed from Widevale now joined a road that picked its way among the remains of mud-brick foundations. Their roofs and walls were long gone, leaving the shells gaping at the sky like empty tooth sockets in a skull. I looked at them curiously as we passed, and dared a question. "Who used to live here?"

"Plainspeople," Corporal Parth said. His tone said that was his full reply. Rising early did not suit his temperament, and I suspected already that he blamed me for having to get out of bed so early.

I held my tongue for a time, but then the questions burst out of me. "Why are all the houses broken and gone? Why did they leave? I thought the Plainspeople didn't have towns. Was this a Plainspeople town?"

"Plainspeople don't have towns, they left because they left, and the houses are broken because the Plainspeople didn't know how to build any better than a termite does." Parth's low-voiced answer implied I was stupid for asking.

My father has always had excellent hearing. "Nevare," he said.

I nudged my horse to move up alongside my father's taller mount. He glanced at me once, I think to be sure I was listening, and then said," Most lainspeople did not build permanent towns. But some, like the Bejawi folk, had seasonal settlements. Franner's Bend was one of them. They came with their flocks during the driest part of the year, for there would be grazing and water here. But they didn't like to live for long in one place, and so they didn't build to last. At other times of the year, they took their flocks out onto the Plains and followed the grazing."

"Why didn't they stay here and build something permanent?"

"It wasn't their way, Nevare. We cannot say they didn't know how, for they did build monuments in various locations that were significant to them, and those monuments have weathered the tests of time very well. Someday I shall take you to see the one called Dancing Spindle. But they did not make towns for themselves as we do, or devise a central government, or provide for the common good of their people. And that was why they remained a poor, wandering folk, prey to the Kidona raiders who preyed on them and to the vagaries of the seasons. Now that we have settled the Bejawi and begun to teach them how to maintain villages and schools and stores, they will learn to prosper."

I pondered this. I knew the Bejawi. Some of them had settled near the north end of Widevale, my father's holdings. I'd been there once. It was a dirty place, a random tumble of houses without streets, with garbage and sewage and offal scattered all around it. I hadn't been impressed. As if my father could hear my thoughts, he said, "Sometimes it takes a while for people to adapt to civilization. The learning process can be hard. But in the end, it will be of great benefit to them. The Gernian people have a duty to lift the Bejawi folk and help them learn civilized ways."

Oh. That I understood. Just as struggling with math would someday make me a better soldier. I nodded and continued to ride at his stirrup as we approached the outpost.

The town of Franner's Bend had become a traders' rendezvous where Gernian merchants sold overpriced wares to homesick soldiers and purchased handmade Plains goods and trinkets from the bazaar for the city markets in the west. The military contingent there, with its barracks and headquarters, was still the heart of the town, but the trade had become the new reason for its existence. Outside the fortified walls a little community had sprung up around the riverboat docks. A lot of common soldiers retired there, eking out their existence with handouts from their younger comrades. Once, I suppose, the fort at Franner's Bend had been of strategic importance. Now it was little more than another backwater on the river. The flags were still raised daily with military precision and a great deal of ceremony and pomp. But as my father told me on the ride there, duty at Franner's Bend was a "soft post now," a plum given to older or incapacitated officers who did not wish to retire to their family homes yet.

Our sole reason for visiting was to determine if my father could win the military contract for sheepskins to use as saddle padding. My family was just venturing into sheepherding at that point in time, and he wished to determine the real market for them before investing too heavily in the silly creatures. Much as he detested playing the merchant, he told me, as a new noble he had to establish the investments that would support his estate and allow it to grow. "I've no wish to hand your brother an empty title when he comes of age. The future Lord Burvelles of the east must have income to support a noble lifestyle. You may think that has nothing to do with you, young Nevare, for as a second son, you must go to be a soldier.


Excerpted from Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb Copyright © 2005 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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Shaman's Crossing 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
Vanguard-TM More than 1 year ago
I have read some really negative reviews about this series. I was even told to skip it completely. But I rarely do as I am told and wanted to make up my own mind. The first book is good. Not great. But not as bad as I was lead to believe. The writing is good. The characters are real although they do fall short of being truly likable. I recommend reading the Farseer series first. And saving this one for last or near to last. But if you're a fan I think you might find something here to like.
kayek1 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, even though Navarre was not my favorite character. He was trying so hard to be the perfect son and perfect soldier son that sometimes what he did was more wrong than right. He also tried so hard to fight the Speck magic that threatened not only to take his soul, but make it impossible to be the perfect son. However, it was an interesting look into a young boy to man's journey. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next book has in store for Navarre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This real departure for Hobb. It is really dark and wrestles with big, ugly issues around race, colonization, and ecology, If you are an Octavia Butler fan, this is for you. If you like dragons and a more conventional narrative, read her next Rainwild series instead.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This does not hold up the high standards I expected from Robin Hobb. It obsesses about the soldier son fact to the point of ad nausea. All the military information makes the book extremely slow and not in a good way. The female characters were bland and so were many of the males. The story line had little action that was interesting. Still, it was slightly gripping and was a decent book, but certainly not her best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished this book about three weeks ago and Im stiil raving over it. Ive given it to a couple of big reader friends and they all rave over it as well. I couldn't find a better book. The politics in it are something else and you can almost see the sceans concerning the Tree Woman and the Dark Night. Killer good book and recomend it to any reader!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was okay, for a fantasy beginner. It was boring though, and very hard to get into. I might be a little biased, having read Hobb's other books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A successful novel requires a well-laid background to support the premise and characterizations the author is promoting. Robin Hobb does just that in SHAMAN'S CROSSING, with intensity. Hobb's attention to writing a novel with an 'ease-of-flow grasp' of the building backdrop is meticulously nurtured for the reader's benefit. The story of Nevare Burvelle and his journey promises page-to-page consistency, propelling the reader's interest forward as the story builds and unfolds. Nevare Burvelle is the second son destined from birth to carry a sword, a 'soldier's second son', the heritage from his once-soldier father who was made a noble by the King of Gernia. Nevare's destiny is to attend the King's Cavella Academy. He prepares during his youth with tutors -- equestrian, studies of mathematics, and the like. At 16, his father gives Nevare to an enemy, a Kidona Plainsman: ruthless Dewara for instruction in survival, and temperament. Dewara leads Nevare on a very painful path both mentally and physically, with some mysticism. Nevare was warned that the Plainspeople use 'tricks'. People who do not ride the Plains of the Midlands say they are 'flat and featureless' and 'roll on endlessly'. Nevare's thoughts have the author Hobb's special touch of expression: 'I had grown up on the Midlands and knew well how deceptive their gentle rises and falls could be. Ravines and sudden crevasses smiled with hidden mouths, just waiting to devour the unwary rider. Even the gentle hollows were often deep enough to conceal mounted men or browsing deer. What the unschooled eye might interpret as scrub brush in the distance could prove to be a shoulder-high patch of sickle-berry, almost impenetrable to a man on horseback.' Nevare narrates¿ As dictated by the 'Writ' , 'I was the son of a noble. 'Of those who bend the knee only to the king, let them have sons in plenitude. The first for an heir, the second to wear the sword, the third to serve as priest, the fourth to labor for beauty's sake, the fifth to gather knowledge¿' and so on. I'd never bothered to memorize the rest of that passage. I had my place and I knew it. I was the second son¿ Nevare enters the cavalla with little knowledge of why the old aristocracy looks down on him as the son of a 'new noble', and is unprepared for the political and social maneuvering of the deeply competitive school and city, especially the 'meanness' of the old nobles' sons. Making a circle of friends within his new noble status, Nevare finds himself entangled in a web of injustice, discrimination, and foul play. And the lessons are painful¿ Hobb's writing is great swords-and-sorcery, with the feeling of modern military schooling and prejudices, and the author's world building is superb and intelligently related to the reader. The heart-thumping, sword-clashing action that Hobb creates, offers a world-class fantasy saga, a heart-rending examination of the consequences of duty and love. Thank you Robin Hobb for an outstanding performance in a wondrous genre, with great narrative sequences.
hjjugovic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Engrossing but tedious in places if you've actually done the basic training thing. Plot kept me guessing. Nevare (main character) too dumb to breath in some places. I didn't see the ending coming, so I call that a winner.
awoods187 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was [retty good. I really enjoyed the coming of age story. The world building was well done but I didnt much care for the magic system.
vistana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Robin Hobb's weakest books. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic. I never felt drawn into the story. I couldn't quite tell who I was supposed to be cheering for, which makes it hard to care who wins. The ending was unsatisfying, and left me with no desire to read the rest of this series.Disappointing, after how fantastic her other books have been.
eddy79 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could not get into this at all. I wonder if Hobb is too characer-driven for my tastes now? Action isn't high on her list of priorities. Its a shame as I enjoyed the Farseer books so much. I wonder if the novelty of being into a fantasy novel for the first time kept me motivtaed throughout that trilogy...?
maggie1944 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a relatively pedestrian fantasy book which I enjoyed reading while noting several nearly fatal flaws. I will not continue reading the series. I don't care that much for any of the characters.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting world, I was enjoying the youth maturing and making friends aspect, interesting enough to keep reading. The political conflict between the old and news lords looked interesting.
littlegeek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After so many negative reviews, I was trepidatious about reading this one, but I really enjoyed it. Sure, the boarding school meme is pretty much played out and the characters of Navare's friends are mostly predictable, but there's some intriguing stuff here. I give props to anyone messing around with the idea of a fantasy "hero." Nevare is not orphaned, courageous, good-hearted or a rebel. He is dragged kicking and screaming into a magical world and never warms up to it. For this experiment alone, it was worth reading. Apparently lots of readers need a Luke Skywalker type to root for to enjoy a book, but to me the novelty of Nevare's character was the best thing in it. Minus points for the scar thingy. You're already in Harry Potter teritory with boarding school, the scar that connects you to your magical enemy was a bit much.
dbecker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I *loved* the Assassin's Apprentice and Fool series, but this was a total disappointment to me. I'm not even going to bother with the second book. The main character was SO frustrating, and I have trouble reading books like that.
CKmtl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shaman's Crossing, and the Soldier Son trilogy, definitely leans toward the more brooding and introverted end of the fantasy spectrum. As such, the story needs an introverted, brooding, slightly stick-in-the-mud narrator: a role which Nevare fills rather nicely.Set in an expanding, imperialist Gernia, Nevare exhibits all the traits of a Good Gernian: loyalty, faith, a willingness to follow the path set for him by his birth-order, and an internalized obligation to 'westernize' the conquered savages. It is through his growth and encounters with others throughout the series that the Good Gernian will be criticized.I find the amount of "Nevare is far too different from Fitz" criticism from some Farseer fans frankly surprising. I don't think it's an entirely fair comparison; the stories and worlds are drastically different, and therefore require different characters. Transplanting Fitz's brain and personality into a Gernian body and slapping on a vanity name-tag would have been a cheap ploy. Not to mention a disservice to readers,
stubbyfingers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a disappointment. Mostly because having read the Assassin's Apprentice series by Robin Hobb and loving them so much I practically read each 700+ page novel in one sitting, I expected so much more from this author. Reading this book was frustrating. The story itself was interesting, or at least it felt like it could be interesting, but it was bogged down somehow. I felt like I had gone to a nursing home and was politely listening to a story being told by a very old man who definitely had a very interesting youth but now can't get the story out of his brain in a timely manner. It's all cloudy and slow and by the time you get to the end you and he both have forgotten what the point of the story was in the first place. Was there a point to this or was this just the ramblings of an old man? The characters were interesting (all except maybe the main one who I wanted to kick and tell him to get over himself), the social structure of the world was interesting, and the story itself had a lot of potential, but darn if I wasn't bored silly most of the time. It took me forever to get through this. Oddly enough, though, as soon as I finished this I wanted to pick up the second book in the series and find out what happens next.
xicanti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've had a difficult time gathering my thoughts on this book. I enjoyed it quite a lot but it left me unsatisfied and I've had some trouble figuring out why.Hobb's world building is as good as always. This new place was a delight to discover. It's part Victorian England, part antebellum American South and part wild west, and Hobb pulls it off beautifully. I quickly became absorbed in the world, and was eager to learn more about it. I wanted to know how the place had developed and what would become of it given the recent political upheavals that drive much of the novel. I wasn't at all disappointed in that area... though I must admit that I'm always a little leery of firearms in fantasy novels, and of the whole idea of magic necessarily fading from the world to make room for "progress." The ethnocentrism bugged the hell out of me, too. I found the setting fascinating, but not entirely comfortable.The characterization, on the other hand, just didn't click for me. I had trouble engaging with Nevare. He's so committed to his own worldview, and is completely unwilling to accept anything unusual or strange. He's incredibly ethnocentric, as are most of those who surround him. I felt for him, and even teared up a few times, but I had trouble investing much in him. I felt awkward rooting for his soldier self because of the ethnocentrism and the limited worldview, but I couldn't really root for the magical part of him because of the things it did. Hobb is among my favourite authors because she (usually) excels at creating characters who change and grow in believable ways. Nevare doesn't really grow as the book progresses. And I'll tell you, I'm gonna be hella disappointed if he doesn't start making some progress in the next book.I also found that there was a lot of unnecessary repetition. Hobb tells us the same things over and over again. Perhaps I'd have found this helpful if I were a slower reader, or if I had trouble remembering details. As a fast reader with an excellent memory for details, I found it tiresome. There were also a fair number of typographical errors in my edition, (the UK trade paperback), including missed words and places where similar words were exchanged for one another. There were enough of them that they lifted me out of the story on a fairly regular basis.I sound like I didn't enjoy the book. I really, really did... but it didn't entirely work for me. And, to be honest, I'm not sure whether to recommend it or not. Hobb fans seem evenly divided over whether or not they enjoy ed it. I myself am divided over whether or not I ought to have enjoyed it. I'd say, borrow it from the library or from a friend before you rush out and buy it.
tcgardner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First off, Robin Hobb is a very good writer. With that said, while I did finish the book, it left me with a sense that I did not really enjoy the book. I think the problem was that I could just not connect with the protagonist. The poor guy seemed to have no control over his life as was just pulled along throughout the book. That may have been Hobb's point but it just was not enjoyable for me.I cannot recommend except to die hard Hobb fans.
littlebookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't have high expectations when I began reading Shaman's Crossing, since I had read several negative reviews. I wasn't at all disappointed, and found myself enjoying this book a lot. I'm enjoying very much this new world of hers, and I love Hobb's characterization. I especially like how this book wraps up at the end, so resolved, but with little hints of what will go wrong in the next two. Robin Hobb is also an excellent writer, and I have yet to read any books of hers without getting instantly absorbed. No problems here with lack of plot, as I found it moved along fairly well even if it wasn't very eventful. Overall, a good book, and I'm sure the next two books will only improve this one.
lewispike on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've just reread this, having bought book 2 and not being sure where we were. I actually find it really hard to give this a rating, as parts of the book are excellent and parts are terrible, at least in my opinion.I think the problem is that the trope of "harsh cadet officer academy" is overplayed. I'm not saying such a situation never existed, but it's laid on too thickly to be plausible. It goes beyond hazing into attempted murder on a number of occasions, and the reasons for it grow thinner and thinner with each repetition.In addition, I'm not sure the apparently dominant culture would survive as described. It's an incredibly strongly caste ridden society believing wholly in predestination (the second son of a noble will be a soldier regardless of all else).Despite these reservations, and I remember them vaguely from the first time of reading, I found I was interested enough in some of the characters and their stories that I want to read book 2, but it's not one of Robin Hobb's best, by quite some way.
surreality on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Plot: Coming-of-age in an alternate universe. There are lots of little scenes and plots, but the main plot never gets going. The book serves more as a set-up for the following two volumes of the trilogy than an independent storyline. Characters: The central figure starts out as a nine-year-old and ends the book as being twenty, withthe only perceivable growth being on the physical end. The side characters are off-the-rack stereotypes - the poor friend with the good heart, the physically lacking boy who makes up for it with his mind, the willful, rebelling daughter, the sunnyboy everybody flocks to, the nasty superior... There's very little originality to these figures.Style: It's not as dense as the Farseer trilogy, and it feels as though there is no real purpose to the story. It's as if Hobb was writing for the deadline here and not for the story. There is no life in this book. Plus: Interesting setting at the beginning of industrialization. Minus: The writing is uninspored and drags. Summary: Far from a must-read.
toberead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this. I can see why some didn't, it's not as immediately vivid as her others, but she's such a good writer. And I liked the main character, with all his devotion to duty and narrowness of vision.
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