Seymour (Three Dances, 2013) begins a new epic fantasy series in which unlikely heroes must prevent a mythic dragon from destroying the world.
One night in Eldan City, brothers Cole and Litnig each have disturbing dreams. While Lit sees strange figures chained to stone, Cole envisions a black-scaled dragon destroy the world. Then, after Lit has a vision of their friend Ryse in danger, they visit Eldan’s Old Temple, where Ryse is a disciple of the god Yenor. At the temple, the brothers find shocking death and destruction—but miraculously, Ryse lives. As a soulweaver, she taps into the all-permeating River of Souls to heal a small boy; doing so offers her a vision of Sherduan, the black dragon that Cole saw. While leaving the temple, the trio glimpses a shattered dragon statue. “Three sets of golden heart dragons,” says the legend, and “if all of them are broken, a dragon comes from the depths of the void to burn the world.” When Cole meets with his close friend Prince Quay Eldani, he and his brother are enlisted to help save the last two sets of dragon statues from destruction by necromancers. Along the way, Seymour’s cast expands to include a teenage archer, Dilanthia Lonecliff, and a diminutive axe-wielder, Len Heramsun, among others. And while their exploits seemingly echo the many epics crowding this genre, Seymour lets these characters—and their private struggles—command the narrative. He conveys emotional conflict, like whenever Cole thinks of Dilanthia, superbly: “He couldn’t figure out what he wanted her to be. Maybe a best friend. Maybe a sister. Maybe something deeper....” What also distinguishes this fantasy is a clear, unique magic system; e.g., when Ryse heals someone, the soul responds and flows toward her until it forms a “bright, pulsing cloud around her body.” Chapters tend to focus on a character’s personal drama as it roils beneath the larger tale.
Seymour’s artful perfectionism will have readers clamoring for the sequel.