Forest Mage by Robin Hobb is the second book in the Soldier Sun Trilogy. It deals with subjects rarely seen in the fantasy genre and for this it gets some extra points.
What Is The Book About?
Forest Mage continues the story of Navare Burvell, the second son of a New Nobel. The culture he is born into proclaims that the second son is a soldier proclaimed by the "Good God," and much of Navare's struggles are based in the destiny others, a culture and religion has set for him, rather than the one he sets for himself. The book dives into many contemporary issues such as fat shaming, eating disorders, self worth, and most of all, destiny/the lack thereof.
Who Are The Main Characters?
Navare is the narrator, and much of this book he spends alone. The reader gets a lot of ideas from Navare, about how the world works and his place in it, and other main characters are fleeting at times. However, Amnsell is a woman he meets along the road, and she illustrates the ways in which people will yearn for survival. Spink is back from the first book, as is Navare's precocious cousin, Epany. Some new characters are also added in, but revealing them would ruin the plot for many.
(Spoiler From First Book) Plot:
The first book in this series, Shaman's Crossing, ends when Navare and Epany save the academy and city from a Spek plague. The obvious place for the second book to go, would have been for Navare to continue his schooling at the academy to become a Cavala man. However, within the first couple chapters, Navare is expelled from the academy due to the fact that he has gained much weight. This is strange, as he had fallen sick with plauge and all other people who had, were wisps of their former selves, yet Navare gains wait with each day and becomes exceedingly fat. When he arrives home his father tries to imprison him and force him to loose weight, but the weight is a magic manifestation and will not go away. Navare eventually flees his father and seeks a life for himself.
Who Will Like This Book?
Anyone who wants a fantasy series that doesn't seem like a rehash of western Europe will find interest in this series. If you've read the first book, I'd say it's worth continuing the story, as it doesn't go the way you may think. If you like stories of the wild frontier, this is also a good book for you, but read the first in the series before this one.