SEA DRAGON HEIR

New fantasy, the first of a projected trilogy and first hardcover from the British author of the paperback Wraeththu trilogy. Here, the Magravandian Empire, with its fire god Madragore, has conquered Caradore, realm of the sea dragon Foy. Thereafter, the eldest son of Caradore’s ruling Palindrakes must serve the emperor. Two centuries later, Valraven serves Leonid II. Pharinet, Valraven’s twin, incestuously loves her brother and becomes angrily jealous of Ellory, Valraven’s betrothed. When Pharinet joins the Sisterhood of the Dragon (they keep secrets of dragon lore and nurse ambitions to send the Magravandians packing), she summons Foy from the ocean depths, but the dragon attacks Ellory, giving her a wound that’s slow to heal. Valraven, seduced by the imperials, becomes the lover of Leonid’s son Bayard. Later, Bayard visits Caradore and, seeming to know more dragon lore than Pharinet does, seduces her into attempting to mingle the powers of fire and water. Disastrously, the dragon takes Ellory, and Valraven turns cold and savage. Six years later, the focus shifts to Leonid’s daughter Varencienne. She marries Valraven, comes to Caradore and, confirming a bond with the dragon, calls it from the sea. She gives birth to twins, Valraven and Ellory, and in an out-of-body experience learns that Foy is weary and only wants to die. Caradore must achieve freedom by another means. A carefully plotted, beautifully detailed fantasy family-saga spoiled by a thin, trite storyline; the midstream point-of-view switch doesn't help.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-87306-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more