Forest Mage by Robin Hobb

Forest MagePublished: 2006

Genre: fantasy

Length: 726 pages

Setting: a fantasy land called Gernia

Interest: It’s the second book in Hobb’s Soldier Son Trilogy. You can see my review of the first book in the series here.

Summary: Nevare goes home for his brother’s wedding, and everyone’s shocked at his appearance. Even though he’s been roughing it in the country, he’s putting on weight. His father and fiance are disgusted, and Nevare is reduced to hard work and a strict diet. Nonetheless, he continues to gain weight, because of the effects of the Speck plague on his body. Plague comes to his village and kills half his family. Nevare and his surviving sister run the estate until his father takes control again, ultimately disowning Nevare. Nevare leaves home and heads off down the King’s Road, looking for a regiment that will let him join. He’s out of luck (because of his weight) until he gets to Gettys at the end of the road, where they’re still trying to push into the Speck forest. There he learns the plague has turned him into a Great One, and the magic is making him grow. He tries to make a new life for himself, but the magic takes it all away so he can be the one who stops the Gernians from moving into the Specks’ territory.

Final thoughts: A very enjoyable book. I liked Nevare much better in this book. He started as an insufferable prig, wanting everyone to fit perfectly into their Good God-given role in life. So, when he no longer fits in his role, he has to rethink how well it works for everyone. Epiny makes another appearance, again making the case that the current role of women in society is extremely limiting, and Nevare starts to realize the truth of that statement.

There’s also a strong undercurrent of “we must civilize these savages for their own good” from the Gernians that Nevare starts to question. Even so, it’s not until the ultimate scene of the book that he submits to his new life and is willing to do what the magic wants him to, instead trying to get back his old life.

Title comes from: Nevare is turning into a Speck Great One (the bigger the person, the more magic they can hold) and the Specks live in the forest.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 14/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge (BTW, her site got hacked, so I’ll add the link when she gets a new site up and running), an F in A-Z Reading Challenge (which takes me to 10/26)


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