The conflict between nature and the progression of mankind is one that is often explored in fiction. Usually, this is done in the form of children's stories wherein we are told repeatedly to protect the environment and that anyone who pollutes the environment does it purely out of maliciousness (thank you, Captain Planet!). Obviously, that's such an oversimplification that it's pretty much false. However, for someone with a more subtle approach, the conflict provides fodder for a much more intriguing kind of story, one full of moral shades of gray. The beauty of nature, which has sheltered us for so long, which provides the ecosystem and resources we need, versus the technology of man, which consumes so much and is constantly progressing as our population grows and grows. Which should we choose? Which can we choose? And can there not be compromise? In The Soldier Son, Robin Hobb explores this very issue, along with a few others.