This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

18 April, 2012


Dragon illustration: Dominic Harman
Cover design: Sidonie Beresford-Browne


ISBN: 978-0-575-08374-5
Pages: 369
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: 19 March 2009

On the cover:

There will be flames

The power of the Realms depends on its dragons. Jealously guarded, nurtured by their handlers, ridden by the aristocracy, they are bred for hunting and war. But only the alchemists and the mysterious liquid they administer to the dragons stand between the Realms and disaster; for without the liquid, the dragons would be returned to their natural fury: Unbiddable, terrifying, awesomely strong, able to destroy an entire army, to burn a kingdom to ashes.

Prince Jehal is thinking of other things. Of power over all the Kings and Queens of the Realms; and he is prepared to charm, lie, betray, plot and murder to get it. Nor is he alone in his ambition. Queen Shezira has her daughters and she means to use them as she herself was used, to gain the ultimate prize, marrying them off to secure her influence and power.

All sell-sword Kemir is thining of is money. Of freedom from the un-ending arrogance of the dragon riders. And maybe a little cold revenge against the warlords who both need him and despise him.

And now a dragon has gone missing...

   Dragons: In many ways they are a cliche of Fantasy, the ultimate symbol that says "Here be Fantasy". And as a mythological beast they are a part of the collective consciousness of human history. So basically the question with a book like this is; does it add anything to dragon lore, or is it just a rehash of old tropes?
   Fortunately what Deas does with dragons in his book feels really fresh. They are a source of power, a weapon for the aristocratic elite, their main means of controlling their territories. And they also function as a deterrent, a weapon of mass destruction you don't want your enemies to unleash on you in retaliation.

   But this story isn't just about dragons, it is also about the intricacies and intrigue of politics, and here lies the mayor plot points. Deas manages to create a very interesting set of characters in the royalty of his world, characters that are complex and intriguing. They are all well developed and believable, you will recognize their type, but they will sometimes surprise you. At times this makes for a wild ride of a plot, with lots of twists and unexpected events, something that is evident as early as the prologue.

   There isn't really all that much action as such in the book, but the story itself is pretty fast-paced and it has a plot that makes it very easy to read "just one more chapter" for far longer than you originally intended too.
   One of the strengths of the book is how the different threads work together. There are different sub-plots that compliments each other and add to the whole.

   The worldbuilding is very well done. Deas has created a world that feels real, and also has a distinct feeling of having developed - especially on the geopolitical scale. There is very little infodumping, and you learn about the world without it being intrusive into the story.
   There is as I mentioned above quite a bit of information on dragons, and how they function in this world. The dragon lore is really interesting and adds greatly to the realistic feel of the novel, and you get a feeling that what you learn will have repercussions in the story later. I found this to be one of the best, if not the actual best,  descriptions of dragons I have ever read, and just that justifies giving this a try.

   This is a great first novel, it will satisfy fans of Epic Fantasy with its realistic setting and intricate story. And there is so much here for anyone who has an interest in dragons to love. It is the first volume in a series that I think any fan of Epic Fantasy will enjoy. This is a fast-paced story with lots of action and intrigue that is hard to put down, and Deas's writing will have you reading into the small hours.
   A word of warning: If you like this book by page 50, be sure that you have the next volumes at hand. You will want to continue reading after you finish this book.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review . . . hits all the right buttons for me. Looks like another topper for my TBR pile.