Renegade’s Magic is the final, extremely disappointing book in Robin Hobb’s Soldier Son trilogy. It’s so wildly disappointing that it’s made me look back at its predecessors, which I had really enjoyed, and wonder if they were actually anywhere near as good as I’d thought they were. (Mild spoilers below)…
Forest Mage left us with Nevare having finally cut all ties to his Gernian life. With the population of Gettys reeling in disgust at the crimes he’s accused of, Nevare uses his Speck magic to flee his certain death and take to the forest, where he resolves to do whatever the magic wants of him and is taken in and fed by a Speck woman and her kin-clan. But as the personality of Nevare’s Speck self, Soldier’s Boy, comes to the fore, Nevare finds himself relegated to being an impotent observer in the turns his life takes as he struggles to stop Soldier’s Boy committing an atrocity against the Gernians.
All of my hopes for Nevare to finally take a more active role in his own life were trashed in this book, as his passivity was instead turned all the way up to 11 and he become a disembodied observer to what his own meatsack was up to. All momentum in the story-telling was lost, with the action for 3/4 of the book being concerned with Nevare watching himself eat, and the rest being a seemingly never-ending argument with himself as to whether or not he should merge with himself to become one and annihilate the Gernians.
After all the talk about how urgent a task it was to stop the progress of the King’s Road, the climax of the storyline – where the magic simply needed a few small gestures to fix the supposedly epic problem – was completely underwhelming, and the magical fairytale ending – where everyone gets exactly what they dreamed of, including a magically re-slimmed body, a large fortune, a ready-made family and the restoration of his former position and reputation for Nevare – left me feeling like I’d been cheated out of something. I’m not sure exactly what that may have been, but it pissed me off regardless and the fact that it had taken so long to get to this ending certainly didn’t help.
I’m really glad that Soldier’s Son was not my first Robin Hobb series or I’d have never gone on to read her other, much better works. As it is, I’m probably just going to try and forget this book ever happened.