Sunday, March 4, 2012

Book Review: The Hob's Bargain


Long ago, in a time long since past, there lived a young bride named Aren.  Aren lived in a world where magic once thrived but the lust and greed of the bloodmages in the land caused them to bind the magic, keeping it only for themselves. Anyone who had the potential to use magic was captured and forced to become a bloodmage to serve the king.

Aren herself harbors a secret. She has the gift of sight. Knowing the dangers the bloodmages pose, she doesn't tell anyone about her abilities.

One day, raiders attack Aren's village and destroy everything she held dear. Truly alone for the first time in her life, Aren is not sure what to make of this new world where magic seems to thrive once again. Aren begins to realize that her abiltiies have grown stronger and she can see things that have happened and things that will happen.

When strange creatures attack survivors of the village, Aren sets off with two companions to make contact with the other villages. It is here when she meets another creature of legend, a Hob named Caefawn who is the servant of the mountain. Desperate to help her village, Aren strikes up a bargain with the Hob, but his help does not come without a price.


The Hob's Bargain is one of Patricia Briggs' early works, and as a fan of her Mercy Thompson series I was eager to read this book after receiving it from a friend. Although it is nothing like her urban fantasy series, The Hob's Bargain is a good fantasy read.

I'll admit, this novel is rather predictable (it felt a little Beauty and the Beast to me), but it was still a good read.

Aren's character is a bit drab in the beginning; I guess I am so used to Briggs' Mercy Thompson series that I mentally wanted them to be similar characters, but Aren is not Mercy. As the story progresses and Aren begins learning more about her abilities from the Hob she begins to break out of her shell. I did appreciate how Aren doesn't have a hero complex. She seemed to almost be thrust into the events of the story. Despite the fact that the villagers genuinely despise her and her abilites, she just wants to help the people in her village.

For being a standalone novel, Briggs did a phenomenal job with the world building. The creatures Aren encounters on her journey all seem to have some kind of vendetta, but that's probably due to the fact that they were bound away for so long--you'd come back with a vengence too. She's also good at making you feel like the novel is really set in the middle ages with the descriptions and the dialogue. Granted I have no idea what the world looked like back then or how anyone talked, but I'm willing to bet it would be something like this.

The story moves rather quickly and it has to to cover everything in one novel, but I almost wish that there was a second novel or even a third to go along with this one. The characters were likable, but the story could have gone in so many more directions. Caefawn seems nice enough but despite being the last of his kind we really don't know that much about him. The same with Aren. She's likeable enough, but we really don't know anything about her other than magic seems to run in her family.

Still, a great read if you are in the mood to read something new without starting a series, and fans of Briggs' Mercy Thompson series definitely need to give this novel a read.

Rating: 4/5


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