14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
With Dragons having been done to death in the fantasy world, a new author always has to come up with something new to thrill and fascinate the reader. After all we've been treated to the mythical beast in many forms from the Dragon Riders of Pern to the Napoleonic War with dragons in Temeraire. So what has Stephen brought to the fore that changes this from the typical formulaic approach?
Firstly the dragons are enslaved to mankind and then only to the nobility who use them shamelessly more as horses than beasts of intelligence, yet it isn't until one of the beasts shakes off the effects of millennia of human drugs that we get to see the creature in all its glory as a small band of humans aid the White Dragon in seeking freedom for all.
Secondly we have a tale that blends mystery, intrigue and above all politic double dealing that will confuse and surprise any readers as the intricate politics of court twist and turn more than a snake doing the Twist with a whole host of fully formed three dimensional characters. Top it off with a Spartan descriptive style so the reader can jump straight into the main course (and a side dish of revenge) and you've got a book to thrill the readers of numerous ages.
The books fun, the books lively and above all it's a different take that allows the readers to get behind the underdog (in this case the dragons) as well as fulfilling the needs and wants of a modern reader. Roll over McCaffrey, there's a new Dragon Lord in town.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2012
Stephen Deas is a master of fantasy writing and is one of the greatest authors of Dragon's in literature, from the deadly and fearsome to the magnificent and majestic. Once I began to read this incredible debut novel there was no turning back for I had lost myself forever in his world of magic, myth and horror that was like nothing I had ever encountered before. Great Knights and Kings of powerful kingdoms, politics and battling for power and supremacy over all this is an epic tale that is on such a grand scale as to impress. Within these lands Dragons rule over the skies seen in all their scaly, fire-breathing glory; magnificent beasts that are both looked upon with fear and awe. This is a novel that will astonish its originality and brilliance that overwhelms you entirely, as any immense epic would do. As fantastical as Anne McCaffrey, George RR Martin or Paolini but in a completely different league that I personally feel is unmatchable and most distinctive. Action packed one is taken on the most thrilling journey that is wrought with fear for these impressive beasts, as well as letting the mind wander and explore all the possibilities of this amazing new world that is brought so clearly to life before your very eyes. With all the ingredients of an impressive fantasy work (from magic to battles, myth and conflict in addition to unique, unusual creatures), Stephen Deas has produced something that is so impressive. This book I can honestly say will appeal to all fans of this genre, whether you enjoy older works of fantasy such as Tolkien, Robin Hobb or Raymond E Feist's or more contemporary fantasy that is current as just as relevant in today's modern world. I was unable to put this book down as it kept me sat on the edge of my seat in suspense throughout, hence afterwards I sought out other books by Deas, including those other novels not connected to Dragons. I urge you to read this and be amazed for you will be stunned after only the first few pages, with language and storyline both as deep and complex as to make an impression on any reader.
There was a time when Dragons ruled the world and were considered deadly predators to all human prey, but not anymore as they have now been controlled and restrained. They are the mounts for great Knights and prized possessions that fortify every aristocratic family within the new kingdom. The empire is wealthy, greedy and full of unsatisfied men who are prepared to do the most dreadful and unspeakable things to fulfill their desire, yearning for more. One such man murders the king; he murders his father, his own lover and then beds his dead lover's daughter. With a Dragon roaming freely the corresponding threats of man and beast could spell disaster for the entire kingdom, its people and the Dragons. With rivals queuing up to claim the sought after throne and position of ruling monarch over the kingdom, all the pieces soon fall into place and the greatest adventure of all begins...
I would also recommend the breathtaking sequel to The Adamantine Palace, which is also a truly remarkable read (The King of Crags).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2012
Well, this is a whole heap of rip-roaring fun and no mistake. It's not profound, the characters are all selfish and devious bastards, the world-building is a bit flat and the writing is capable if not particularly memorable, but - what a cracking story. Of course, it's the dragons who make it. I've heard it said that dragons are a bit out of favour these days, and publishers are avoiding them. Maybe so, but I for one just love them, and these dragons are terrific - big, powerful monsters, just like they should be, and totally mean-spirited. And they feel very alien, nothing like the loveable pals from Pern, or even the riddle-swapping Smaug. Brilliant.
The plot revolves largely around the political machinations of the various dragon-owning families, and it's at a level which makes Machiavelli look like a two year old. There are lies and subterfuge and double-dealing, all layered up to create an incredible writhing snake-pit of deception. I kept up with it pretty well until about three quarters of the way through, when it got to the point of (for all I know) double double double dealing, and I kind of lost the thread altogether. So at the end, I'm not completely sure who was really in league with whom, and who was just pretending to be. It was complicated. But it really didn't matter, because all the twists and turns raced by so fast it was all a blur anyway. Talk about breathtaking.
The characters never really came alive for me. They all seemed just a little too - well, too much. Too clever, too smug, too beautiful, too sexed up, too devious, too self-centred. There were just a few moments where something deeper shone through - Kemir deciding not to kill Semian, for instance, but to inflict a much slower and more painful punishment on him, in pure revenge, and Jaslyn's grief for her dragon. But mostly the characters seemed distant, too unemotional and too wrapped up in their own cleverness to be truly three dimensional. A word of warning, however: don't get too attached to any particular character, as the author is shockingly ruthless about disposing of them without a moment's notice.
The real stars here are the dragons, and what stars they are. These beasts are not cute or cuddly, but they are intelligent, and once they start to break free from human control they make formidable opponents. While the political complications got a bit dull towards the end, every dragon chapter was a joy, even if edged with a tinge of fear. You just never quite knew when they were going to eat one of the named characters. Because that's what these dragons do. Very much looking forward to seeing where things go from here. This is a book with some flaws, but it was such fun to read it merits four stars.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2010
There is a lot of promise in this book. A truly malevolent and ruthless cast list. A fast moving story with a twisting and turning plot line...and yet the author somehow fails to harness all this potential and something was missing. I never quite got those feverish page turning attacks that keep the bedside light glowing late into the night. Also I never really cared that much when cast members died and I was never sure who's side I was on.
I felt the dialogue was a little stilted and predictable and the characterisation a little flacid when compared to masters like Abercrombie and GRR Martin.
I would normally groan a bit at the use of Dragons, but they here, the best part of the story and I liked the idea of them awakening from their drugged state and discovering their true nature. The story ended with enough going on to finally kindle my interest just as it was ending. I have the next book in the series and will definately read it in the not too distant future, but I will be hoping for a bit more colour and excitement.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2012
I generally like the idea of the story and the world that has been created. the dragons are nice as well and their history too. however, the humans and their world are a massive letdown. the whole story turns around a handfull of humans and their power play; the rest of the world is forgotten. you learn nothing of the common people, what the world looks like "on the ground". all you hear about are castles, fortresses, the sky and clouds. the politics that are taking place are meaningless because they have no impact on the world, it's all about personal gain of a few people. the alliances are not explored in depth, the links between the main characters are too weak, the politics don't draw you in, the characters are too shallow.
i like the concept and the idea behind the story, but it would have been nicer to explore the story in more depth. i was hoping that this issue was because this book was a debut and the sequel might be better. so I read the second book as well, but it doesn't get better, unfortunately. this book is not for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2012
The dragons in this book are great! The idea that they really are dangerous beasts, safely drugged into submission, works well and there is a growing sense of menace as one dragon regains her intelligence.
Sadly the humans are not as interesting as the dragons. The blurb claims "Machiavellian politics" at work here; but no. Instead we have loads of kings and queens, who seem to have no idea what even the word "politics" means, behaving very stupidly. Time and time again someone has an advantage, and carelessy throws it away, because they have no idea what to do next. Not one of the humans is a fully rounded character; they are all cardboard puppets, posturing unconvincingly. And no matter how strong the dragons are, these weak humans drag the novel down.
on 17 October 2011
The first book of the Memory Of Flame series, set in a fantasy world where the land is divided under the Dragon Kings and Queens and ruled overall by the Speaker Of The Realms. The book follows several storylines that weave in and out of one another, some twined tightly while others only touch each other distantly. The two main lines follow the escape of the white dragon, Snow, while the other follows the sly political manoeuvrings of Prince Jehal. These two plots never overlap, but they influence each other from afar.
As Deas' début novel suffers several flaws, the greatest of which being the lack of character development shown in anything that isn't a dragon. Those who were grasping for power at the start of the book are grasping for it at the end. Those that were weak puppets remain so. I hope it is something that Deas can improve upon, as it is a shame.
I can't say that I enjoyed this book - something in the mix between the type of characters, the high mortality rate and the style of the dragons just didn't do it for me. As a story, it was refreshing, however. The short chapters kept me from becoming bored of one character's POV, and there was always something happening or being planned. I can't quite forgive the author for killing off my favourite character half way through, and aside from him there was no other character that intrigued me, but his style is rather lovely. I don't know if I want to continue this series, but there are some relationships that I enjoyed watching - the arranged marriage, the man seeking revenge, the bloodless battle between Jehal and the Speaker - those parts are very delightful.
on 9 June 2011
The Realms are a manipulative place. Dragons are being manipulated through the form of potions to serve humans as glorified war horses. Speakers are manipulated to pick their successor. Sell swords are manipulated into embroiling themselves in wars that will easily cause their deaths. The Realms are not a soft place to live, in this, the first of a trilogy written by Stephen Deas.
Let's say this right off the bat: some fantasy novels currently fool themselves into being serious literary fiction. The Adamantine Palace does not do this. It, instead, presents sheer unadulterated fun - glossy characters, vivid dragons, cinematic actions sequences. I would definitely class it as a popcorn book - the pages turn swiftly while you remain almost unaware, drinking down the story in huge gulps. I loved it.
Of course, I couldn't tell you exactly why the Realms are at such odds; or much about the political intrigue between each of the major players. I couldn't tell you why a speaker is needed every ten years, or what their role comprises. I wouldn't be able to picture the Realms in my head, or explain why there is such a difference between the nobles in the eyries and those who live 'Outside'. I have no idea what caused this rift.
If someone were to ask me about the book, I would end up grinning and saying 'Dragons are COOL!' in an enthusiastic manner. All of the sequences that involved Snow, the perfect white dragon, were just superb. In fact, my lasting impression of the novel is a brilliant scene between Snow and her Scales - I won't ruin it, but her sense of embarrassment and shame is just perfectly played. I could have stood a whole novel about dragons, in fact, and I enjoyed every moment reading about their life cycles, the potions that keep them docile, how they're trained, etc. I had become rather disillusioned with dragons, but The Adamantine Palace has left me wanting a great deal more of them. The impatient, fiery, clever type anyway.
Deas is clearly a talented author. He has an amusingly dry touch to many of the conversations; he writes action scenes well; and he delights in showing us wickedly Machiavellian Kings and Queens.
In terms of characterisation, Jehal and Shezira are both done very well, and I want to know more about them - Jehal's insouciance is very attractive to me as a reader, while Shezira gives a little emotional depth about the nature of being a woman, a tradable commodity, in medieval times. Lystra, Shezira's daughter, showed some promise as a sassy princess sort, but ended up fading out into a girl who dotes on her man, while Zafir is deadly but somehow vapid and left no lasting impression.
The Adamantine Palace is the fantasy equivalent of one of my chick lit novels - a book that I read swiftly, enjoy thoroughly and would be willing to pick up at some future point as a comfort read. There were few surprises, lots of good scenes, and a great deal of fun to be had. I will be looking forward thoroughly to picking up King of the Crags in the near future. If you're looking for a breathless light-hearted read, you could not do better.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Adamantine Palace begins with an interesting premise: dragons, once hunters of humans, are now slaves to them, kept in check by alchemists' potions. But one day a single dragon goes missing, threatening to undo everything the humans have done since they triumphed over the dragons.
It's a relatively light read, one that can be finished in a few days, and perhaps not for readers who like narrative padded with description and well-rounded world-building; the book is a little thin in these aspects. The characterisation of the power-hungry characters is also a little flat. Neither does it help that there are few if any sympathetic characters in the entire novel; at first, the rogue dragon is endearing in her innocence, but as she learns more about the reality of the world she becomes merciless and as hard to like as the humans.
The key weakness of the novel is that it hinges on "Machiavellian" politics (the blurb's words, not mine) rather than the rogue dragon, but Deas just isn't a skilled-enough writer to justify this. You get the sense that he aspires to the level of George RR Martin, but he just hasn't reached it. It's all confusion and no excitement, and as a result you simply end up not caring, and scanning over these parts.
Nevertheless, it's still a book worth reading and I will probably be buying the sequel. It's mildly gripping (the dragon's parts, at least), and there a few lines that'll make you snort/laugh in amusement. It's not wholly satisfying, but you could do worse.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In the Dragon Realms the Speaker holds the ambitions of kings and queens in check from the Adamantine Palace. The current Speaker, Hyram, is about to finish his term and his sister-in-law, Queen Shezira, is widely expected to take his place. Prince Jehal however, has other ideas. A ruthless sociopath, Jehal will do whatever it takes to secure control of the realms, even murder.
All this is threatened when a precious white dragon, Snow, disappears. Intended as a wedding present from Shezira to Jehal (who is betrothed to Shezira's daughter, Lystra) the disappearance does more than threaten Shezira's political aspirations. Dragons once hunted men, killing and eating at will. All this changed when alchemists discovered a chemical means for controlling them, clouding their minds to make them easy to control. Denied these drugs, Snow begins to rediscover its self-awareness and its anger as it realises the way in which it has been prevented from reaching its true potential and now it wants revenge against its masters.
Deas has created a carefully constructed world with a well thought through mechanism for integrating and using dragons within its society. The scope is epic and the stakes are not just control of the Dragon Realms but their very survival. There are some beautifully vivid scenes, particularly those which show the dragons in flight and it is no surprise that within these scenes the riders themselves really come alive.
For all this though, it is difficult to empathise with any of the characters. Almost all of them are shown as being self-interested, pursuing power for their own venal reasons and prepared to make any deal, commit any act to secure it. Jehal is a peculiarly bland anti-hero as there is little rationale for his actions. Shezira should be the counterbalance to him and yet she too is difficult to root for because of her own political aspirations. It doesn't help that there is a wide cast of characters and at times the point of view shifts become confusing and are so fast moving as to create distance with the reader.
This is a shame because there is real potential for this story and the action scenes are well handled. The book ends with a set up for the sequel THE KING OF THE CRAGS, although I am undecided as to whether to read on.