A young wanderer enters the Wyrmeweald—a mountainous land of sudden death, untold riches, and dragons, dragons, dragons—in this grim trilogy opener.
Having encountered three corpses on the trail and receiving a near-fatal wound himself, Micah falls in with Eli, a gruff mountaineer who fills him in on the increasingly vicious struggle between outside exploiters, or “wyrmekith,” and the “wyrmekin” who have learned to live closely with the indigenous dragons. Joined by Thrace, a lovely if feral dragon-rider, the protagonists pursue a gang of murderous egg thieves, tangle bloodily with a community of “gutsmen” and encounter a cannibal wyrmekin. The authors give all of the kith cast members Old Testament names and use ornate language (“Already, sharp-eyed, keen-nosed carrionwyrmes with cropscythe claws and teeth like hackdaggers were circling overhead”), presumably for atmosphere. They also positively festoon their setting and tale with dragons of many sorts and sizes: lakewyrmes, fire-breathing whitewyrmes, mistwyrmes, fisherwyrmes, tatterwyrmes, stormwyrmes, lanternwyrmes, squabwyrmes and more. A few rate full-page portraits at the end; narrow strip illustrations at the chapter heads offer smaller, partial views of figures, creatures and landscapes.
Red meat for rabid dragon lovers, but younger fans of the authors’ Edge Chronicles may be discomfited by the gruesome bits and steamy clinches. (Fantasy. 12-16)