City of Dragons - Robin Hobb

Writing reviews always gets harder as a series progresses. There's so little to speak of without spoiling something for someone. Are the people reading it those who've gotten this far in the series already and if so, what information are they looking for? Are people scouting ahead to see if it's worthwhile to start the series?

Do I just say fuck it and make a gif reaction review? Even if I wanted to, I'm not that clever or funny. It'd boil down to repeating: --> til I ran out of character space.


All I can really say is the whole series is worth it. I've finished the Rain Wild Chronicles and loved every minute of it, including City of Dragons. Admittedly, I'm a Hobb fan and feel the same way about all her Elderlings books.


If you've been lamenting the lack of action thus far, City of Dragons has what you've been wanting. And it doesn't slow down at all. It's revving up for the fourth and final book, Blood of Dragons.



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

Everything I said in my Dragon Keeper review [link] applies as well. Namely:

Breath-taking, descriptive, clever writing

Flush & vibrant world building

Awesomely dynamic & diverse characters

Pitch-perfect tempo

Spot-on switching perspectives

Brilliant use of messages between Keepers of the Birds, it tells an interesting background story during chapter intros that’s relevant and gripping.

Immediately engaging

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.

Yay for learning more about Elderlings, Icefyre, and Tintaglia.

Wow that last conversation ~fist pumping in solidarity~ and seeing Tat’s perspective…


Others have mentioned that City of Dragons is essentially the first 50% of the second book in a duology. Dragon Keeper + Haven= Book 1 while City of Dragons + Blood of Dragons= Book 2. Since that's how Hobb wrote them but were broken up during publishing and it's the impression from reading them as they were released.


As someone who's read all four of them straight through, I can see what they're saying. But don't necessarily agree. I thought it was a wonderful tetralogy with Dragon Haven and City of Dragons reading like middle books.


Do The Rain Wild Chronicles Suffer From A Saggy Middle?


I don't think middle book syndrome applies, and not just because it's a tetralogy rather than a trilogy. In Dragon Haven, there is a climax that gives a clear direction for the next installment, for instance. Both Dragon Haven and City of Dragons tick off every criteria that makes The Empire Strikes Back a good middle movie. And they both split up the 5 part story structure, which seems impossible until you read it and realize how much shit changes before, between, and after them.


(Excuse me for not being able to find a link that does the same with a tetralogy, but others brought the charges, which are usually applied to trilogies. But that's probably since trilogies are so ubiquitous.)


Sure, it moves people to the right places for the final showdown to come, but if that's all you got from these 300 and some pages, then it's just not the series for you.


Characters make headway on their group adventure, personal progression, and relationships. There's some resolutions, which are satisfying and pave the way for progress. Sedric is of particular interest. Though I won't lie, my heart lies with Thymara and Saphira. Godsdamnit, those two are killing me. Though I wish I could kill Hest, the fucker. Gods, just when I thought I couldn't hate him more...


New perspectives are introduced to spice up the routine and give new depth. Tats is phenomenal, for example. We find out what's been keeping Tingalia and Seldon and how Bingtown is fairing. The messages between the bird keepers at the beginning of each chapter continues to inform and tell it's own little story.


If you're attached to these characters and enthralled with the world, there's so many questions. (and eventually, answers.) When we begin, it's simply “Now what?” If they can't get in, they're refugees living on the outskirts eking out a living. If they can, now they've got a city to reestablish, defend, and explore.


Remember Fool and Fitz's interactions with skill stones? How bad would it be living in a city full of it? And with no Skill? If they've discovered so much already, what else can they uncover? Or will they meet the same roadblocks others have faced?


What will happen when they can spread out and aren't forced to socialize with everyone all the time? They've gone from a suicide expedition to dragon keepers, but can humans and dragons make the leap to Kelsingra and what they once were?


What about Tarman and his crew? Boats and sailors aren't known for sticking to one place. Would running errands up and down the river for Kelsingra be enough or are they leaving now the mission is complete? Even if Captain Leftrin wants to stay for Alise, will he be able to hold onto his life and family or will his hand be forced?


It's not just relationship and political drama either. Alise is a self-made academic and her desires for the city are different. She wants preservation and reservation like an archeological dig while dragons and keepers think of it as their rightful heritage.


The Resurgence of the Evil Other?


Ah, Chalcedeans; those slave-owning, woman-subjugating desperate bastards. They’ve always been the Evil Other, even when trading their “exotic” culture. We've had them as villains and now we get to see them from the inside. Will their society face revolution, destruction, or stagnation? Woot for their badass citizens though.


As a Fool Fangirl...


NOW, where is my fucking Fool!?!? Of all the people coming to Kelsingra, they should be, especially since they weren't around for the fucking journey. I get why Fool being apart of the Expedition wouldn't have worked but holy fucking shit, it's past time for an appearance already. Goddamnit Hobb, I love you but Fool plays a big part in that and if you [scenario too awful to even write out]…. >;(


Update: I wrote that originally before there was even talk about a new Fitz and Fool book. Still keeping it in since it was my honest reaction. Sure, I feel like an ass now but also vindicated. And relieved. And OMFG. 







Side Note: There are bloggers that include music with book reviews and recommendations, which doesn't include me. However, I will say listening to Bea Miller's Not An Apology album lined up beautifully while re-writing and editing these reviews. But that might just be me. 



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.