Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rage of the Dragon: Book Three of the Dragonships of Vindras by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

I have a review copy of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Rage of the Dragon. I was excited to get it because I enjoyed Shadow Raiders: Book One of the Dragon Brigade so much.

I have not read the previous two books in this series, but it is a testament to how good this book is that not only can I come into the story at book three and I love the book, but I am ordering books one and two for myself so I can see how these great characters got to where they are now.

There is a short prologue where children are listening to the tale of our heroes and heroines around the fire told by one Farinn the Talogroth.  It is a well beloved tale that they can recite themselves. They run off to play act that they are the characters. This is such a nice framing device. However, by the end of the book I had forgotten about it and as people were dying left and right and I was stunned.  It would have been nice to remember that it probably all comes out alright in the end. Then again, this is a projected four book series and perhaps it doesn’t. Yikes!

The Dragonships are a wonderful creation. These wooden ships are inhabited by the spirits of real dragons who can be called forth in times of need to sail the ship or enter full dragon form and battle foes. The only indication during peaceable times that the ship is inhabited by these dragon spirits is a set of glowing eyes. Our ship is the Venjekar and its dragon is the Dragon Kahg. He has a rather dour personality, and is very ambiguous in his liking for the humans he sails with.

Our hero is Skylan Ivorson, Chief of Chiefs of the Vindrasi people. He is brash, brave, and ready to fight. I can tell from what is mentioned of the past that his character has undergone quite a transformation. Even in this single book, his character learns many hard lessons and becomes truly heroic. He gains wisdom, judgment and compassion with every page.

He has just finished a huge battle in the previous title, and he seeks to get home to his people to recover and to save them from a disaster he sees in a vision. He serves the warrior god Torval and his prayers and communications with his god are sometimes rewarded and sometimes not.

Our heroine is Aylaen, the Blade of the Goddess Vindrash. Chosen for this task over her murderous sister Treia, she wields it reluctantly at times but with honor. She is also a Bone Priestess who can call forth the dragons that inhabit the Dragonships. Over the course of the story she becomes a tough warrior and the love of Skylan. Their story is wonderfully romantic, their road not an easy one.

The gods here are real and they fight a hard battle between themselves, and with a dangerous new god who is attempting to destroy the older weakened gods. They are able to help the humans by sending visions and sometimes massive creatures like the kraken to do their bidding. The Dragonships have alliances as well. Some are with the old gods, some with the new.

There are great side characters. The narrator Farinn is a sixteen year old boy who would be a bard rather than a warrior. There is Acronis, a legate who has lost everything but he stays with Skylan and helps keep him temperate. A strange shape changing boy named Wulfe claims to be the grandson of the Queen of Faerie.

On the villainous side we have Skylan’s devout and dastardly cousin Raegar who would be emperor under the new god Aelon, his lover the traitorous yet oddly sympathetic Treia, and the new and increasingly powerful god Aelon.

Rage of the Dragon is the story of their efforts to get home, to bury a friend honorably, and to please the gods that they worship while fighting against the gods and their followers who seek to destroy them.

The world itself is at stake as Aylaen and Skylan seek the five bones of the Vektia dragon. Finding these will summon a power to the world that may destroy everything.

This is one of my favorite books this year. It is a great adventure, a sea story, rousingly romantic and I cannot wait for the final volume. Luckily I have the two previous adventures Bones of the Dragon and Secret of the Dragon awaiting me.

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