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Blood of Dragons: Rain Wilds Chronicles #4    by Robin Hobb order for
Blood of Dragons
by Robin Hobb
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Blood of Dragons follows City of Dragons as the fourth in Robin Hobbs' Rain Wilds Chronicles, set in the same world as her outstanding Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies.

As the series opened, dragons (which start their lives as sea serpents) were close to extinction. Trader cities contracted with dragon Tintaglia to help sea serpents migrate up the toxic Rain Wild River to a hatching ground. They recruited expendable young dragon keepers (including Thymara, Tats and Rapskal) to accompany the resulting enfeebled examples of dragonkind on an expedition upriver to the mythical dragon haven of Kelsingra.

Riverman Leftrin and his Tarman liveship barge crew carried supplies and hunters for the expedition. Dragon scholar Alise (unhappily married to narcissistic Trader Hest) and her friend Sedric (Hest's lover) accompanied them. Alise and Sedric found new loves and all the dragon keepers slowly changed (into Elderlings), as did their self-centered charges. After many adventures, they found and explored a very real Kelsingra.

As Blood of Dragons opens, Tintaglia (suffering a festering wound under her wing) flies unsteadily towards Trehaug in search of her Elderlings, unaware that Reyn and Malta are on their way to Kelsingra, desperate to find aid for their dying son. There, Alise, awaiting Leftrin's return, works to make a place for herself. Each of the earthbound dragons finally finds a way to achieve flight. And the dragon keepers seek Kelsingra's fabled Silver, which their dragons badly need to reach their full potential. As this evolves the love triangle between Thymara, Tats and Rapskal is resolved.

Selden, Tintaglia's dragon singer, enslaved and abused, ends up in the hands of the Duke of Chalced, sharing a prison with the latter's daughter Chassim. Indeed it is the aged ruler's obsession with extending his life via dragon parts that drives the story in this episode, as the Duke's agent leads a party of Chalcedeans against the dragons. This revives old memories, causing many young dragon keepers to don armor and ride their dragons to war. As this tumultuous episode ends on a very high note, several series villains get their just deserts.

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