Monday, 13 April 2009

FANTASY REVIEW: Adamantine Palace: Stephen Deas


The Adamantine Palace lies at the centre of an empire that grew out of ashes. Once dragons ruled the world and man was little more than prey. Then a way of subduing the dragons alchemicly was discovered and now the dragons are bred to be little more than mounts for knights and highly valued tokens in the diplomatic power-players that underpin the rule of the competing aristocratic houses. The Empire has grown fat. And now one man wants it for himself. A man prepared to poison the king just as he has poisoned his own father. A man prepared to murder his lover and bed her daughter. A man fit to be king? But uknown to him there are flames on the way. A single dragon has gone missing. And even one dragon on the loose, unsubdued, returned to its full intelligence, its full fury, could spell disaster for the Empire. But because of the actions of one unscrupulous mercenary the rivals for the throne could soon be facing hundreds of dragons . . . Stephen Deas has written a fast moving and action-fuelled fantasy laced with irony, a razor sharp way with characters, dialogue to die for and dragons to die by.


With Dragons having been done to death in the fantasy world, a new author always has to come up with something new to thrill and fascinate the reader. After all we’ve been treated to the mythical beast in many forms from the Dragon Riders of Pern to the Napoleonic War with dragons in Temeraire. So what has Stephen brought to the fore that changes this from the typical formulaic approach?

Firstly the dragons are enslaved to mankind and then only to the nobility who use them shamelessly more as horses than beasts of intelligence, yet it isn’t until one of the beasts shakes off the effects of millennia of human drugs that we get to see the creature in all its glory as a small band of humans aid the White Dragon in seeking freedom for all.

Secondly we have a tale that blends mystery, intrigue and above all politic double dealing that will confuse and surprise any readers as the intricate politics of court twist and turn more than a snake doing the Twist with a whole host of fully formed three dimensional characters. Top it off with a Spartan descriptive style so the reader can jump straight into the main course (and a side dish of revenge) and you’ve got a book to thrill the readers of numerous ages.

The book's fun, the book's lively and above all it’s a different take that allows the readers to get behind the underdog (in this case the dragons.) Add to the mix that the tale fulfills the needs and wants of a modern reader. and we say "Roll over McCaffrey, there’s a new Dragon Lord in town."

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