In the fourth YA fantasy adventure of Matthynssens’ (Magic Scorned, 2015, etc.) series, a young water mage gains an immense advantage.
Alador has been training for the elite Blackguard in the Lerdenian capital of Silverport. There, he’s been taken under the wing of his villainous uncle, High Minister Luthian, who tolerates the lad, a half-breed Daezun, as he’s capable of wielding magic. Luthian’s goal, however, is to concoct foul weather to destroy the Daezun people’s crops and starve the villagers into submission. Alador, who now possesses the dragon stone of Renamaum, must fulfill the beast’s last wish before inheriting his lore and magical knowledge. Alador and his father, the mage Henrick, travel to Renamaum’s family cave and bring about a brief transformation that reunites the dragon with his mate, Pruatra. Afterward, Alador and Renamaum merge; as a result, the lad becomes a pseudo-dragon and learns a startling secret from the beast. Meanwhile, Henrick gives Alador a tome of necromantic spells that once belonged to the deceitful wizard Rydanth Guldalian, telling him, “It is not the sword or the book that is evil my son, but rather the man who wields them.” Alador accepts it, knowing he’ll need every possible tool to end the enterprise of the Bloodmines, which bleeds dragons of their magic. For this latest outing to the world of Vesta, Matthynssens drops new and returning readers alike into deep narrative waters. The tale starts with a scene involving the Trench Lord, Sordith, as he battles his own men who attempt to assassinate his and Alador’s father, Henrick. Then there’s the Goddess Dethara, who’s darkened the horizon of Silverport by courting the recently manifested pseudo-dragon. Certain narrative threads involving the characters of Mesiande (in Smallbrook) and Jon (in the Bloodmines) remain untouched until Matthynssens finally finds space for them in her methodical tapestry. Although the prose can be a bit bulky, it’s often evocative, as when Renamaum and Pruatra “broke through the clouds and...the stars shimmered in the cool, brisk air.” As the narrative tension grows, so does Alador’s power—but major resolutions await in a future volume.
The dense, emotionally fraught worldbuilding continues in this series installment.