Dragon Haven - Robin Hobb

I had fun poking fun at my fangirl self while writing The Dragon Keeper's (The Rain Wild Chronicles #1) review but I'll try to be more serious and helpful this time around.


Continuing Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven sees the cast and crew evolve under extreme conditions. It's not just the river they have to fear, but there's danger from within. We are talking about people and dragons, aka reptilian flying cats with higher intelligence than humans and magic. ~Drama~

I get confused reading other reviews where they say nothing happened, because plenty did. While there is more action than Dragon Keeper, it's mainly about the characters. They aren't in a (wait for it…) war, court intrigue, or piracy like previous Elderling series.

They are on a journey and as the clique goes it's not about the destination. I can't imagine this ragtag group finding Kelsingra as they were, let alone reaching it. I've now finished the series (I'm surprised I could stop to take notes…) and yeah, ewwww.
Let's not think about that depressing scenario. Every step, every setback, every change is necessary. And I don't mean because it gives me more Hobb to read.

Hobb has confirmed Dragon Keeper and Haven were written as one so think of it as Keeper Part 2. And it's the first book in a trilogy. What's the first book in a trilogy do, especially Hobbs? Set up and laying the foundation for the build up of the middle book, and the bomb-dropping conclusion of the third.




Young adult love angles that I love, it’s logical, genuine, and arresting.

So emotional, I kept tearing up

Unexpected twists

Ends in smart places that feels like natural

Character growth galore

New perspectives introduced that bring new depth without bogging down or overwhelming

Basically, everything I said in my Dragon Keeper review applies as well

There’s always progress made, not just towards the larger overarching plots and character arches, but minor ones that feel like accomplishments as well

Love how Hobb’s fantasy worlds don’t stay static in technology or culture, there’s always people striving forward, which makes Hobb’s world feel more real, like it adds another dimension

Dying to know…everything & YAY when we discover more but there’s plenty to ponder before and after reading, which I find exciting rather than frustrating because their world is so rich, it’s full of discoveries to make

Loved the Cast of Characters descriptions (e.g., “Grisby: Ship’s cat. Orange and obnoxious.”) but I’ve never had a problem remembering characters when reading Hobb. I hadn’t even realized how many I was keeping track of until browsing the list.

Love seeing more of Reyn, Malta, and Seldon since I’ve read (and loved) the Liveship Traders trilogy. I adore Malta’s character growth and them being an old married couple is adorable. Here’s to hoping more Althea and crew sightings as well.

I fucking loved the journey and the payoff is so, so worth it at every book ending along the way. I cried at Dragon Haven's last sentence. I went back to my notes and highlights, re-read it months later and cried again.

For those of us who've read and loved previous Elderling books the discoveries in Dragon Haven are earth shattering. (And we get more of it in the next two as well.) Like answers you've always wanted: How are humans, elderlings, and dragons connected?


The Lords and Ladies of...Romance?

They're fully underway and finally making hefty realizations. Including that they're a bunch of teenagers that were told to never have sex on a co-ed journey with no one to tattle or reprimand. Oh, boy.

I wouldn't worry so much about love triangles, it's certainly not the stereotypical kind I've ranted about in young adult fiction. It's more like a web, with the lines crossing every which way, breaking, and realigning.

Beyond just feelings of heart, brain, and genitals, they're dealing with survival (the avoiding death type, not just high school), politics, and freedom for the first time. It's fascinating in a Lord of the Flies kind of way.

Thymara, Thymara, Thymara, my girl. I love you but you've got some issues, dear. I suggest you work those out promptly because hearing you and others spout bullshit regarding your “rival” is tiresome.

I don't think Dragon Haven is flawed but I did see a missed opportunity here and it continues in City of Dragons...

Sexuality, Sex Education and Lesbians


I’m not a fan of Thymara and company’s attitude toward Jerd’s sexuality but it’s authentic. Even Greft the reprehensible got depth of character and understanding yet Jerd is just the selfish whore who learned nothing. Her perspective is something I’m itching to see because it’s unlike Hobb to leave characters so flat and plain awful for conflict’s sake.

Considering everyone’s growth it’s just a matter of time before this is resolved and Hobb’s given no reason to doubt before. I’m sure it’ll work out in a non-slut-shaming kind of way, which is why it doesn’t bother me so much. I’m cheering for Jerd to find peace on her own path and for Thymara to find hers.

Characters talking about birth control and pregnancy in their world is fascinating even though it’s merely a passing remark. I was waiting for the older women to step up and do some teaching, instead of just fear mongering. Lecturing the girls about using birth control while not helping procuring it seems silly.

Further, I was wondering why the talk of masturbation and sex acts without mating didn’t occur. There’s no world where abstinence only sex education works so either the adults want it to happen (yeah, right) or something’s missing. It’s impossible that in this world it’s penetrative sex or nothing, so why the gap?

I think Thymara learning to love herself sexually (no, I’m not talking about making it graphic or anything necessarily) would’ve helped her character arc since she takes so long to take one step forward and two back. If her sticking point is fear of pregnancy and not wanting to choose a partner yet wanting to have sex (all valid and relatable), then masturbation seems like the next logical step.

It’s possiblibly simply page constraints and the information would bog the story down or other such concerns. However, considering these problems follow throughout the last three books, I was surprised and disappointed this education didn’t happen. It’d flesh out the world more and provide another interesting aspect missing from most fantasy worlds, even those more progressive ones.

If it didn’t come from the expedition, Chalced was another opportunity to go where few tread and fewer succeed. Admittedly, I could be grievously wrong and it could’ve failed but if anyone can do it right, it’s Robin Hobb. Therefore, I’ll keep looking for proper 

treatment of these subjects elsewhere, and lament the lost opportunity of Hobb’s deft hand.

Dragon Haven and City of Dragons are still fantastic books with impeccable execution, miles above most, so it doesn’t feel right to mark down for wild fangirling conjecture on my part. It doesn’t suffer for not including my wild idea but I felt like sharing.

(show spoiler)


Amazing 5 stars


Recommended for:

if you want a vibrant fantasy realm with lifelike characters on an epic coming of age journey, The Rain Wild Chronicles are perfect. Hobbs remains my favorite author and highly recommend her books to anyone.