This is book four of this particular series about dragons. This in itself was strange because all of her work has been trilogy format before this. There is definitely nothing wrong with this being longer than I would have expected because the writing is amazing. It is quite strange that they call it book four of the rain wild series because if you have read any of her work they have all been based in the same world and usually around the rain wild river. Indeed, the characters of the other books tend to appear throughout the books which is very nice to see.
That is not to say that this series does not stand out on its own. You do not have to have read any of the others to be able to follow this but you would miss out on the history involving the other characters.
If you had not read any of them before then I think you would still enjoy the books as a series by themselves. I would not recommend that you only read this book because without the back story of the other books it would not make complete sense. Therefore, I going to talk about the books in general rather than as this solitary book.
The basic story is quite simple. It is almost comparing Dragon life to butterfly life in that they start as serpents and build a cocoon where they will emerge as dragons. Unfortunately, it is believed only one Dragon has survived so far and she laid eggs some years before. This serpents have now reached maturity and have gone to their nesting grounds to cocoon and hatch. As there are only three elderlings (a person changed by dragons) and one Dragon they all struggled to help the serpents build the cocoons. The result of this is that when they hatched they did so deformed and unable to fly.
In time the grounded animals start to be seen as pests. So, the people that lived there decided that they needed to go somewhere else (in the vague hope that they would die). They assigned the Dragons keepers who were individuals touched by the rain wilds and have spent their lives hiding from everyone else. It is the way of the town trying to rid themselves of two problems.
Following discussion they decide to head up the river and the hope of finding an old elderling city called Kelsingra. The books follow their perilous journey and shows the bond being formed between dragons and humans. By the time they reach the city and realise they are at the wrong side of the river everything seems to lost. However by then one of them has regained in after people to fly. This is closely followed by another and the city is explored. They realise it is waiting for dragons and new elderlings and so they start to encourage the Dragons to flight.
Eventually, they’ll make it over the river and settle into a new home which they want to make their own. Meanwhile, a plot is discovered where they realise humans are trying to murder dragons to harvest body parts to extend their own lives. There are good few moments within this book that would leave you gripping your chair in suspense.
Robin Hobb has really managed to paint an entire world with the rain wild Chronicles and her descriptions make it feel complete. If you like fantasy then I would highly recommend that you read this (as well as the other books I mentioned earlier). In all I would give this 9/10 because of the sheer beauty contained within the words.