Soldier Son Nevare’s adventures culminate in a battle within his divided self for mastery of his body in defiance of the magic.
When last we saw Nevare, he was grossly fat and resigned to a life on the outside. A Soldier Son of modest ambition, Nevare’s soul was cleft in two during a battle with the tree goddess Lisana. Now, in Renegade’s Magic, the trilogy’s conclusion, Nevare finds himself trapped, with his Speck alter-ego having taken control of his body in order to wield the magic against Nevare’s own people.
For most of the book, Nevare is a disembodied self, helplessly observing as “Soldier’s Boy” grows fat on magic and rises in power as a Great One. He rues the choices he made to alienate himself from his family and from the woman he loves. Soldier’s Boy loves Lisana, the woman whom Nevare holds responsible for his destruction. And so he finds himself torn between his passion for Lisana and his hatred of Soldier’s Boy, and fears for the day when he will be unable to resist merging with Soldier’s Boy.
The internal nature of the narrative kept me from fully engaging with the story, oddly enough. I never saw Nevare as an agent in the story; rather, he was an observer to someone else’s story. The technique itself was well executed, but despite Hobb’s considerable skills I don’t think she transcended the gimmick’s inherent limitations. Ultimately I felt that the trilogy didn’t end with the level of majesty I’ve come to expect from her work.
Even so, Robin Hobb on a bad day beats the pants off of many other writers at their best. I’m already itching to reread her Six Duchies trilogies, and hope to get my hands on more of the out of print Megan Lindholm works.