But the High King has determined that four years have dulled the memory of most of his subjects to the heroism of Ward's saving of the kingdom/s and sends along his men to bring back Ward to 'interview' him and establish his fitness to rule Hurog. Ward goes along with his captors because he literally knows what the consequences are of the various choices he has. Ward is subjected to a week of torture before his relatives can reach him, and not even Oreg's awesome dragon based power can save him. Ward eventually saves himself, with a little unexpected assistance, that makes him the enemy of the High King - certainly no friend before, but now each is an unmistakable threat to the other. Ward must gather his allies, and fight for right, justice, and, as ever, for Hurog.
I'm just as taken with Ward as I was in the previous book. He is an exceptional character - inherently strong and with a strong sense of justice that guides his moral code. He has been through emotional and physical hardships, and continues to prevail without letting those experiences twist him with their bitterness. He's one of those genuine hero's who is truly surprised when others perceive him as such. It's a story of heroism, of politics, of leadership, of healing, of love and of family. Again, I'm amazed at all the threads and themes Briggs manages to pack into one volume.
I highly recommend this book and it's predecessor. The events of Dragon Bones are referred to many times in Dragon Blood, so to get the most out of the latter, you should read the former. It will be no hardship to do so!
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have. I have read it earlier and will pick it up again at a later time. Being able to read a book time and time again without having the magic go out of them is a gift beyond measure. Thank you Patricia.
In classic fantasy fiction this problem does not arise. Tolkien's King
is inherently good; the Return of the King is an icon of the return of
good governance. But Patricia Briggs is more subtle and is exploring
the genre in new ways (and is in any case nowhere near such a good
writer). Brigg's King, Jakoven, is a pretty nasty character and Ward,
though on the whole gentle and easygoing, is pushed into a position
where he cannot but revolt.
So what does he do? What does the fantasy hero about town do when he's
forced to revolt against the king? Well, in this tale, he joins a
rebellion led by the king's (illegitimate) half brother in favour of
the king's (legitimate) younger brother. Not surprisingly, the said
younger brother is more than somewhat suspicious of Ward's motives. The
fact that Ward can gather to him sufficient forces to make a revolt
successful against the present king makes him a dangerously overmighty
subject for the next king.
And the question I have to ask is why does he do this? The question is
such a blatant void in the plot that Briggs has to address it in the
book, and while the answers she gives make sense to a degree - it's
credible that Ward doesn't himself want to be king - it doesn't
explain why he's setting out to replace a paranoid, psychologically
damaged king with a young man who has been held in solitary
confinement since his mid-teens, and who is himself clearly disturbed
and paranoid. Indeed, before this book ends it seems more than likely
that the plot for the third, as yet unwritten book of this trilogy
must revolve around the structural conflict between a weak and
suspicious king and an exceedingly powerful subject. I have to say if
this prediction turns out to be right I'm going to be very
Because despite it's glaring plot faults, and a stylistic problem I'll
come to in a moment, this is an extremely engaging book. The first
person narrator, Ward, is thoroughly likable, as, seen though his
eyes, are most of his companions; the pace is brisk and the narrative
flows well; the love interest, which was only touched on in the first
book, is much more developed in this one. You like these people, you
want them to succeed, and you're glad when they do.
Oh, that stylistic problem. Ward narrates most of the book first
person, and that narrative works. Then, when the author wants to
describe things Ward can't possibly have seen, she doesn't switch to
another first person narrator, she switches to an old-fashioned
omniscient narrator. Considered in isolation, the omniscient narrative
works as well, but frankly the transition jars.
So, overall a thouroughly pleasant and likeable piece of fantasy. Not
classic and not great literature but nevertheless a very enjoyable
read. I do look forward to the sequel - I assume that one is planned -
but with a little trepidation because I feel the author has left
herself with a difficult plot corner to get out of.
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