Eos, Jan 26 2010, $26.99
Years have passed since the last fatal hatching and the residents of Bingtown and Cassarik have become somewhat complacent as if those who died during the previous infestation never occurred. However, the townsfolk are stunned when the cocoons left behind by the nomadic sea serpents rupture open releasing a new generation of dragons that must be controlled rapidly before they devastate the town towns. These hatchlings seem substandard with many expected to die; those who live must be controlled before their hunger drives them to Cassarik.
The Traders Council quickly reacts choosing special humans who contain mutations on their bodies to escort the young dragons to a different locale, the lost city of Kelsingra where they can be controlled easier away from the cities. Among the selected are uneducated teenage Rain Wilds Thymara and overly-educated unhappy dragon guru Alise, wife of a Bingtown Trader. The journey along the deadly Rain Wild River will prove arduous with only the strong surviving.
Returning to the Tawny Man world with the first entry of a duology, Robin Hobb provides a superb fantasy. The story line is mostly seen through the eyes of the two women as they face danger and treachery on the quest. In some ways, the opening of Act Three (see the Liveship Traders and the Tawny Man sagas), is a coming of age duet. However, what makes Dragon Keeper a keeper is the cast as the travelers human and dragon seems real while the menaces come from the land, the river and within. Fans will look forward to the finish wondering whether Kelsingra will prove to be a Dragon Haven or hell.