This is the second book in the Soldier Son Trilogy. Nevare Burvell, a second son, is destined to be the family soldier. His naïve acceptance that birth order is responsible for all aspects of life is challenged by his life experiences. The forest magic forces Nevare to abandon hope and look to the Specks.
Despair comes to mind when analyzing Nevare’s life. Every time he turns around what ever he strives to achieve blows up in his face. He finds his own behavior is often inexplicable. The ties to his old life are frayed beyond salvage and he is forced to look at the Specks in a new way. The metaphor here may be that circumstances beyond your control can force you into a life you may not want to live. So much can be read into Robin Hobb’s work. The beauty of her storytelling is that each of us can find a unique way of perceiving and experiencing it. This is an excellent series. Not an easy read but a rewarding read, take your time, savor and ponder it.