Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: The Dragon Throne by Chrys Cymri

'You only have one part of the Summoning Ring,' said the dragon to Fianna. 'And neither the knowledge or strength to use it even if it were complete.' Fianna is the only child of King Stannard and Queen Fiona, and has always expected to become the next Keeper of the Dragon Throne. She exiles herself from court when her father decides to take a second wife. Recalled to Secondus castle after Stannard's death, she has to contend with the split loyalties among the royal knights. In desperation, she agrees to summon the dragons to support her claim to the throne. Their challenge sends her to meet them in the Sacred Mountains. In the woods of the unicorn herd, the Prancer loses his milk-brother to an attack by a dragon. He travels across the human kingdoms to seek the killer, discovering the complexities of human relationships and the delights of ale along the way. They meet at the Sacred Mountains. And so begins a story of love, friendship-and betrayal. 

Blogger's note: Apologies to the author for the delay on this review. This has been on my backlog for way too long.

The cover is just...all right. Out of curiosity I took a look at a few of the other covers the author had, and they seem to convey a better sense of wonder and scale. In this one, the knight and the dragon both seem to be nonchalantly looking at it each as if to say, 'yep, just another day on this mountain'. Plus the placement of whiteness is confusing. If it wasn't for the moon, I would have a sense they were in a tunnel somewhere. But like I said, there are better covers, including one in this very series.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The characterization and scenes are done very well and Fianna is a very likeable, albeit flawed protagonist. The interactions between her and Deian (a pig farmer) were the most enjoyable part. If the book had just been about their growing relationship from start to finish I would have easily been happy with that. The book also shifts into the viewpoint of Prancer the Unicorn, which is a slightly weaker story than Fianna's but still entertaining enough to read. And the idea of an ale-drinking unicorn is a very appealing one-although, I wish this was a quirk the unicorn develops instead of a time-honored tradition, but it is still a fun part of the novel.

In my last review, I gave Irons in the Fire a bit of criticism for not resolving enough plot threads. Looking back at it now...I didn't know how good I had it, because at least in that book *some* things were resolved. Unfortunately, that seems to be the biggest issue in The Dragon Throne. There are a lot of interesting plot threads set up, but will likely not be resolved until later in the series. Most fantasy books tend to clock in around 300 pages, so this one is a bit on the short side. I wish more time could have been spent resolving some plot threads, as we have an attempted assassination attempt, an actual successful assassination attempt, Fianna trying to prove herself to the dragons, an invitation to a rival Kingdom, and a twist that I am not going to spoil but will hope the author develops with caution in mind, and a few other plots as well. With any luck some of these will be resolved in the Unicorn Throne, which is the next book in the series.

FINAL GRADE: 3 out of 5. A strong beginning with great characters, but readers may not be happy with the lack of conclusion. Hopefully this is not a growing trend with writers.

The Dragon Throne can be found here. 

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