Dragon Haven - Robin Hobb My mother made sure we always had some kind of dessert or sweets to snack on. At the same time, with two teenage boys in the house, she got a little upset if an afternoon of baking disappeared in under an hour.

I finished [b:Dragon Keeper|6550760|Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles, #1)|Robin Hobb|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347588858s/6550760.jpg|4767778] yesterday morning. While it wasn't as good as Hobb's best, I liked it. And when I found two sequels on sale for a few dollars apiece, I picked them up immediately. Now, less than 24 hours later, I've finished Dragon Haven. My mother would be appalled, but it tells you something about the book. I did some other reading yesterday (as well as actually rising from the sofa for a good part of the day), but it's fair to say that reading this book was a major focus. The story is not perfect, but it's very readable.

Unlike most of Hobb's trilogies, not a lot has actually happened in the two books. Mostly, it's dragons and their keepers sloshing up the Rain Wilds rivers. The story is about the personal interactions, and the development of both the humans and the dragons. It may that latter that makes this second book read a bit like a young adult novel - most of the characters are relatively immature, and the emotional turbulence they face is largely of the coming of age sort. With dragons.

It may also be the reason that Dragon Haven succeeds better than Dragon Keeper. My complaint there was that it was disheartening to see struggles about sexuality that we've resolved (to some extent, in some place) in real life. The struggles in this book are also not new, but some are things that will never go away so long as young people keep growing into older people. There are others as well (efforts at male dominance over females) that are disappointing to the idealist in me, but that didn't trouble me as much narratively, perhaps because the story is also about an isolated group establishing new rules. Mostly, the story is an engaging adventure story with lots of personal interaction to absorb, and quite a few moral dilemmas to consider.

The weakest part of the story is the dragons themselves, in some ways. I give Hobb credit for making the individuals, and not always very pleasant ones. But she comes very close at times to the stereotype of 'dragons as wise, ancient creatures who know all'. Or rather, since the dragons clearly aren't to humans treating them as if they were - living only to serve these beautiful creatures. It's not quite that clear-cut, and some humans do stand up to the dragons, but not as much as I want them to. It's an ongoing frustration, and Hobb's explanations don't go far enough for my taste.

This book also wraps a few things up a little too neatly. There's conflict and drama, but also a bit of ex machina that I think could have been handled better.

At the same time, I did read the book in one day, and I'm going on to the next later today.

All in all, a solid fantasy book with an intriguing, enjoyable story, and well worth reading.