I read this book back in 2005-2009, but it's possible that it might have been released earlier.

The key points I recall are that the protagonist worked as something like a border guard, or at least lived on a border between his country and a magic forest; the forest's trees absorbed dying or dead people into their collective consciousness; and the mages of the forest were both fat from magic, and went around placing the injured at the trees.

The protagonist was against the absorbing, believing it was bad. He grew fat from using the magic of the forest (by accident?) and didn't know what to do. At one point after growing overweight, he had to return home to his father's estate. His father was horrified to see his son had gotten so fat. His father then proceeded to lock the protagonist in his room, refusing to feed him anything but scraps, then eventually nothing, believing his son was stealing food since his appearance didn't change at all.

The protagonist tried to keep his mind off his situation, instead feeling the warmth of the sun. He eventually escaped his father's estate and returned to his border house. He ends up having to bury some bodies, but then is horrified to find that the forest is eating them. He tries to untangle the bodies but they plead for him to leave them be.

At one point, he ends up in the forest himself and winds up at a feast hosted by the mages, and finds himself thinking that they're beautiful. The mages introduce him to why they let the forest absorb people, and he finds himself linked to the spirits absorbed by the forest, happy and cheerful. That's the most I remember.

  • 3
    This is very difficult to read because you didn't use proper punctuation, line breaks, paragraphs, capitalization, etc. It is what we call a "wall of text", which is probably why so many people are downvoting it. Can you please fix it?
    – Wad Cheber
    Sep 2, 2015 at 7:59
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    "... refusing to feed him anything but Scraps ..." Poor Scraps...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 2, 2015 at 11:19
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    sorry, I've never used this site before, I just had someone recommend it to me, and on top of that I'm on mobile so typing is rather wonky. I didn't even know that there was a voting system.
    – scarflin
    Sep 2, 2015 at 18:29
  • @scarflin - No worries, we were all new to this site once. It takes some time to get accustomed to how everything works. Good question, by the way. And welcome to SF&F.
    – Wad Cheber
    Sep 3, 2015 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


This sounds to me like the Soldier Son trilogy by Robin Hobb, consisting of Shaman's Crossing, Forest Mage, and Renegade's Magic.

In this trilogy mages store magic by getting fat, then they burn off the fat when they perform great feats of magic. The trilogy follows the hero, Nevare Burvelle, as he becomes a mage and eventually manages to save the forest where the mages live from destruction.

The trilogy has many of the points you mention. Nevare's father disapproves of him getting fat (he doesn't realise it's stored magic) and does at one point imprison and try to starve him. People can be absorbed into trees - Nevare himself spends some time as a tree after being killed (he gets reincarnated later).

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    yup, Soldier's son. Not one of her best IMO...
    – Yasskier
    Sep 2, 2015 at 9:34
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    I realise this isn't the place for a discussion of the book, but I would say a word in Hobb's defence. The plotting isn't the greatest ever, but the pleasure in Hobb's books is mainly in the characters. Nevare is a nice chap and we quickly empathise with him during some pretty nasty experiences, then cheer when he saves the forest in the end :-) I agree this isn't her best work, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable and i recommend it to others. Sep 2, 2015 at 13:15
  • @scarflin If this is the story you were looking for please remember to mark the answer as accepted.
    – Xantec
    Oct 23, 2015 at 13:28

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