Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The King Of The Crags - Stephen Deas

The King Of The Crags
The Memory Of Flames, Book II
Stephen Deas


Note: If you haven’t read the first book in this series (THE ADAMANTINE PALACE) then you’ve missed a great fantasy debut. And this review will contain unavoidable plot spoilers.

Too many times, the second book in any given fantasy series feels like filler, info dumps, and moving characters into place for the big finale to come. Not this time. This time, the second installment is every bit as intriguing as the first, and leaves the reader impatiently awaiting the next. We’re still following the plotting and intrigues of Prince Jehal and Queen Zafir, the latter of whom is now Speaker of the Realms. It’s clear that Zafir is not content with the power that comes with being Speaker. Dragons mean power, and Zafir wants to have all of it. To that end, she is not at all averse to starting an all-out war, when the Speaker traditionally acts as peacekeeper of the nine realms.

Jehal sees both wisdom and folly in this stance. And there’s still the matter of what to do with Queen Shezira and King Valgar, both now prisoners in the dungeons of the Adamantine Palace, accused of treachery and killing the former Speaker. Queen Shezira, who just happens to be the mother of Jehal’s new wife. As is usually the case in politics, everyone concerned has plotted for years to get to the top. Political rivalries and alliances will clearly be tested in the time to come.

Zafir is correct: Dragons mean power. Snow, the white dragon meant as a wedding present for Jehal, is lost in the wilds. She’s been without the alchemists potions for some time now, and is wide awake and full of memories. Legend has it that dragons die only to be reborn again and again, each time with memories intact. Snow would appear to prove that theory. She’s not willing to be a drugged slave to humans any more. Her plan is to recruit more dragons and let them awaken to reality and their memories. Of course, this is a nightmare for the inhabitants of the realms, who have no defenses against dragon attacks.

There’s so much going on in this novel that it would be impossible to recount, or even introduce, every plotline in a review. If the dragons are changing, then so are some of the humans. There are alchemists, blood-mages, riders, Kings, Queens, and soldiers, all with a very real stake in the outcome of things. Political intrigues, alliances, and rivalries abound. For all of the plotlines and action being juggled here, the author somehow still manages to craft each character as an individual with unique hopes and dreams and desires. I feel sure that the dragons will become unique once they awaken. Snow is a fantastic, terrifying, and awesome (in the best sense of the word) character. This is, quite simply, some of the best fantasy writing I’ve read in quite some time. This series is highly recommended.

Rating: 8
February 2011
ISBN# 978-0-451-46375-0 (hardcover)


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