Forest Mage is the second book in The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb. I got my copy in the Fnac in Ghent. It’s 818 pages and I didn’t enjoy most of them. I started this novel mid-June and I had to push myself to finish it. A better title would be ‘Diary of a fat, depressed man’.
I can’t say a lot about the story because this is the second book in the series and I don’t want to spoil anything.
Nevare has survived The Speck Plague but is sent away from the Military Academy for being too fat. His body absorbs magic, thus making him gain weight. His relations at home worsen and after a new wave of The Plague he has to leave home. He travels to the frontier, hoping to find a unit that will take him on.
I enjoyed Hobb's writing style. The characters are well thought out; they seem very real and have great depth and feeling. The world Hobb created is imaginative and magnificent. The cultures of the different peoples are rich and different. Hobb has an eye for detail and realism.
However, the entire novel is a compilation of insults and violence Nevare has to suffer due to his weight gain. If I’d want to read about suffering and violence, I’d read a biography or the papers. I want to enjoy my time reading a novel because reading relaxes me, but this novel did just the opposite. Hobb just kept on piling insults, disasters and accidents on top of everything else that’s happening to Nevare. The novel left me feeling sad and frustrated every time I read a part.
In the first part of the trilogy Nevare was strong, had opinions, had confidence and bravado. Not anymore, he is passive and weak in this part and I didn’t like this side of him.
If you want action (battles, monsters or magical fights) this isn’t for you either. Nothing really happens and it’s a very slow and boring read. Nevare’s battle with the Speck magic inside him and all around him becomes overly repetitive and rather boring. She could have cut 300 pages easily.
I loved The Farseer Trilogy, which is why I wanted to read a second series by Robin Hobb. But this series just didn’t reach the standard she set for herself. Since it’s already on my shelf, I will read the third part in the trilogy, but it won’t be anytime soon.