Dragons have been a part of the human existence for a long time. They have roots in most cultures going back millennia, recounted in various mythologies and religions the world round. Most say the same thing. They are large creatures, smart, wise, sometimes winged, and always revered. They also drive fantasy tales and have for millennia, some of the more famous being Smaug, Fafnir, Saphira, Haku, Tiamat, and Strabo.
Ironically, being in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, dragons are on many people’s minds.
Bestselling author Robin Hobb is one of them. She has spent the last two years writing the Rain Wilds Chronicles, which has featured a group of malformed dragons attempting to carve out a new life for themselves—two of which are Icefyre and Tintglia from her Tawny Man series. It has been intriguing reading Robin create distinctive dragons and how introducing an intelligence predator into human culture would change the dynamics we humans share.
The new book, City of Dragons, is the third book in Robin’s Rain Wilds Chronicles. Here is a bit more about it:
New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb—“one of the most important writers in 21st-century fantasy” (Contra Costa Times)—continues her enthralling fantasy saga of dragons and their keepers.
Once, dragons ruled the Rain Wilds, tended by privileged human servants known as Elderlings. But a series of cataclysmic eruptions nearly drove these magnificent creatures to extinction. Born weak and deformed, the last of their kind had one hope for survival: to return to their ancient city of Kelsingra. Accompanied by a disparate crew of untested young keepers, the dragons embarked on a harsh journey into the unknown along the toxic Rain Wild River. Battling starvation, a hostile climate, and treacherous enemies, dragons and humans began to forge magical connections, bonds that have wrought astonishing transformations for them all. And though Kelsingra is finally near, their odyssey has only begun.
Because of the swollen waters of the Rain Wild River, the lost city can be reached only by flight—a test of endurance and skill beyond the stunted dragons’ strength. Venturing across the swift-running river in tiny boats, the dragon scholar Alise and a handful of keepers discover a world far different from anything they have ever known or imagined. Immense, ornate structures of black stone veined with silver and lifelike stone statues line the silent, eerily empty streets. Yet what are the whispers they hear, the shadows of voices and bursts of light that flutter and are gone? And why do they feel as if eyes are watching them?
The dragons must plumb the depths of their ancestral memories to help them take flight and unlock the secrets buried in Kelsingra. But enemies driven by greed and dark desires are approaching. Time is running out, not only for the dragons but for their human keepers as well.
Dragons on the run. Dragons trying to find a home. Dragons persecuted wherever they fly. At her Powell’s book signing last week, Robin read an excerpt featuring Icefyre and Tintglia that left the audience riveted in its gruesome aspect. That’s not a surprise. Robin comes at dragons in a unique way.
To shed more light on it, here is an interview with Robin! Enjoy!
NEW RELEASE INTERVIEW: CITY OF DRAGONS BY ROBIN HOBB
Shawn Speakman: Hi Robin! CITY OF DRAGONS is your newly published book and it is the third set in your Rain Wilds Chronicles. Tell readers a little bit about the series and the new book?
Robin Hobb: CITY OF DRAGONS is part three of the Rain Wild Chronicles. This book picks up the tale immediately after the events in Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven. The setting is one that many readers will recognize from my Liveship Traders Trilogy, and a few of the characters are old friends as well. The premise of the tale is that dragons have hatched in the Rain Wilds but they are not healthy and hearty. Tired of having to provide for these voracious and unpredictable creatures, the Rain Wild Traders send them off with a dozen ‘Keepers’ to seek for the ancient city of Kelsingra, where legend says that once Dragons and Elderlings lived in harmony. But the journey is complicated by danger, uncertainty and treachery, and the ‘lost city’ may not be what any of them are expecting.
SS: You are mostly known for working in trilogies but I know there is one more book coming in the Rain Wilds Chronicles, titled BLOOD OF DRAGONS. How did this become a four-book set of books?
RH: All my fault. Dragon Keeper was to be a stand-alone work that would serve as an introduction to my world for readers who might have felt hesitant to commit to a full trilogy. But I turned in a work that was not only very late but thousands of words longer than was anticipated. Rather than cut the story back to size, it was decided to make it onto two books. That became Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven. On City of Dragons, I was resolved that I would make my deadline, and I did. But the story had demanded more words than planned, and once again we were faced with a work that was too long to be edited and published as scheduled. So again it was cut in half and the publishing dates had to be changed. So that final book is now two volumes, City of Dragons and Blood of Dragons. The final volume will be out in May 2013.
SS: You spend a great deal of time in CITY OF DRAGONS writing from the POV of dragons. What draws you to dragons as a writer?
RH: I’m fascinated by the idea of a sentient species that is as arrogant and ruthless as humanity. When T. H. White wrote The Once and Future King, he pointed out how silly human boundaries are. We draw a line on a map and declare that this side is the US and that side is Mexico. But it still remains an imaginary line that only humans recognize. So what if there was another species that did nor recognize human authority and had no interest in our boundaries or our concept of ‘property’? It seemed to me that there were many story ideas there that were worth pursuing.
SS: What are some of your favorite stories featuring dragons?
RH: Oh, there are so many. Start with Anne McCaffrey and her Pern tales, but put The Hobbit on a slightly higher level than that. Then add in The Reluctant Dragon, and My Father’s Dragon, and any number of fairy tales that featured dragons kidnapping virgins or hoarding gold.
SS: What are your writing plans once you have turned in BLOOD OF DRAGONS?
RH: Honestly, I think I’ll finish up a shorter work called The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince, and then I’m going to step back and think about things for a time. We’re considering a long road trip. I’d like to remember what it was like before I had to think about a deadline every morning!
SS: Thanks for your time, Robin!
RH: You’re very welcome, and thanks for the Suvudu opportunity!
City of Dragons by Robin Hobb is in fine bookstores now!
To learn more about Robin and her work, visit www.robinhobb.com!