Thursday, January 28, 2016

The hob's bargain by Patricia Briggs

Aren of Fallbrook thought she would never marry, her chances tainted by the touch of magic that saw her brother kill himself rather than be taken by the Bloodmage who demanded his life when he refused to train to become a Bloodmage himself.  It is a taint made worse by the secret that Aren herself is magic touched, she has the sight which allows her to see glimpses of what might happen, snatched feelings of dread or warning that are usually too vague and garbled to make sense until their time has passed.  

The unthinkable has happened though, Aren has found a husband who loves her and who is willing to work the land with her father to ensure their future, and even though their marriage is only one day old it seems like it will be a good one - until the vision of her family murdered in the field by bandits steals her breath away, a vision that comes too late for her to do anything.  Widowed and orphaned in the blink of an eye Aren has lost everything, and when she admits to the elders of the village that she has the sight it makes her the target for hostile glances, frosty distance, and outright hostility.

The people of Fallbrook are in danger from the bandits that are trying to claim their valley, but also from the creatures of magic that are returning to the land now that the binding power of the Bloodmages has been stripped away.  It is a new and dangerous world, and Aren shines like a beacon to magic creatures - a tasty morsel for some and a target for others.  The only hope for Aren and the village that loathes her is to make a bargain with the hob that lives on the mountain of the same name - and it is Aren who must pay the price the hob asks.  In dangerous times people will do desperate things, but in dangerous times people can also discover the goodness that lives inside - and they can see what lies behind the rumours, the myths, and the legends.  

I have been enjoying the urban fantasy series by Briggs and thought it was time to try reading some of her other fantasy works and I was delighted with what I found in The hob's bargain.  Aren and her world were a wonderful discovery full of well defined mythology, drama, adventure, and a delightful sense of humour.  There are hints that it is a dangerous time and place and that the hob's bargain is a dark and dangerous one to make, but as you read through the story it becomes clear that there is a lot of humour and compassion in the hob that make him seem more than human rather than less.  

I am not sure if Briggs intended it to be the case, but after reading quite a few fractured fairytales over the past year or so it feels like The hob's bargain has it's roots in a certain classic fairytale about a beast and a woman forced to interact with him for the sake of her loved ones.  I could be reading too much into it, it could just be a great fantasy read that feels familiar because it is a quest to save a village that leads to discovery of self and others.

If you like this book then try:
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Arrows of the queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Throne of glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Fire rose by Mercedes Lackey
  • Home from the sea by Mercedes Lackey
  • Reserved for the cat by Mercedes Lackey
  • Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey
  • Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey
  • From a high tower by Mercedes Lackey
  • A court of thorns and roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Deerskin by Robin McKinley
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Rose daughter by Robin McKinley
  • Spindle's end by Robin McKinley
  • Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Brilla

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