Although prolific fantasist Stackpole’s newest series was launched with a “prelude” entitled The Dark Glory War (2000, not reviewed), that book’s hero, Tarrant Hawkins, does not appear in this installment, set 25 years later, until a final revelation. The author starts in the middle of the action here, leading onstage in the first few pages a dozen characters whose pasts it is assumed you either know or will be eager to discover as Stackpole devises them. In the city of Yslin, Will the Nibble, a thief who hopes to be King of the Dimandowns and a match for master thief Azure Spider, steals a living silver leaf (a fragment of the DragonCrown?) from Predator. The growing but downtrodden human population has a hard time in this land, many being impressed as sailors on the Crescent Sea, the body of water overlooked by Fortress Draconis. Hints abound that Will has been touched by destiny for a great feat as savior of the human world. Will power-mad Chytrine be successful against crenellated Fortress Draconis, steal back the pieces of the DragonCrown, become Empress, and destroy the southlands? Or will she be defeated by troops allied against her by Kerrigan Reese, the gallant Vilwan Adept whose magic may undermine her? This is only Book One, so Chytrine must live to fight another day. Coming up: Rage of Dragons.
Long, but a magnet for young Stackpoleans wandering the earth in search of a staircase into some monstrously looming Fortress Draconis of the mind.