German writer Perplies’ first novel to be translated to English is set in a world where a vengeance-obsessed captain of a flying ship vows to slay the mammoth dragon that killed his love years earlier.
Essentially a fantasy retelling of Melville's masterpiece, the story revolves around Lian, an 18-year-old who is forced to flee his hometown when he kills one of the thugs who murdered his drunkard of a father. With nowhere else to go, he finds a berth aboard a floating ship that hunts dragons. The ship—which some say is cursed—is captained by Adaron, a tortured man determined to destroy the legendary Gargantuan, an ancient dragon that killed his crew and lover almost two decades earlier. With only his late father’s hunting spear to accompany him, Lian begins an adventure that brings him up into the mythical Cloudmere, a vast ocean of fog where dragons and other strange creatures live and floating islands hold unknown wonders. As Adaron closes in on the Black Leviathan, who is one of “the oldest and greatest dragons of all,” Lian begins a transformative journey of self-discovery that includes a mystical revelation while inside a crystal chamber. His father’s spear is more than it seems—and Lian may be destined for much more than killing dragons. While the worldbuilding is impressive and the pacing brisk throughout, the narrative has several flaws. The budding romance between Lian and another character seems forced and unlikely. Additionally, the novel’s predictable conclusion is a bit of an anticlimax after such a powerful buildup. But the biggest disappointment is in the lack of any thematic depth. The narrative is ripe for existential examination—Adaron’s obsessive quest for vengeance as well as Lian’s coming-of-age—but the story, while entertaining, is told on a superficial level.
The flawed lovechild of Moby-Dick and Eragon.