on 30 March 2009
When I first heard about a new fantasy trilogy incorporating dragons I was somewhat hesitant at ordering since the last efforts with these beasts didn't quite portray them the way I would have liked. To me, dragons are cruel creatures, firebreathing monsters, not ponies. But I'm glad I did get this one because Stephen Deas has really given them a new lease of life! The book is full of politics, intrigue, a nice cast of not terribly black and white characters ( Jehal, the murderous, bedhopping villain being my favourite one) and a good sprinkling of sex (I'm not complaining!) but it really does come to life when Snow (the central dragon in this one) makes her first appearance. She's alien and she's a true firebreathing monster! Hurrah!! Bring on the sequel, I say!
Hopefully there will be a German edition at some point - It'll be interesting to see how it's translated :)
on 3 December 2012
Amazon you need to respect your customers - stop abusing your monopoly over Kindle e-book distribution by overcharging. It should NEVER be more expensive to buy the e-book version than a hard copy version. Can you imagine how galling it is to receive endless spam e-mails from you telling me that the hardback version of a book is cheaper than the electronic version. And pay your taxes like everybody else.
on 17 May 2009
Deas has a complicated plot. One strand follows the machinations of an assortment of princes and princesses each hoping to be the next Speaker (roughly, Overlord). Another strand follows a previously tamed dragon becoming wild and setting off to free others of her kind. Unfortunately, Deas is too busy trying to do everything to get anything right. He shoots through the political scheming too fast, so that the reader is simply bewildered, and can't work out who anyone is, who they are scheming with / betraying / pretending to betray (I told you it was complicated!) or why. The dragon side of the story is at least comprehensible, but not very good reading; readers are clearly meant to sympathize with the dragon, but it is mostly presented as an engine of destruction without much attempt at personality.
More than anything else, Deas' book lacks even one genuinely sympathetic character. Everyone in the book is ruthless, greedy, treacherous, or dangerous. It is actually quite a depressing read.
on 23 January 2015
I thought that this book was very good although I did find it a bit confusing, as I had to keep racking my brain to find out who this character was, and why they were doing whatever they were doing. I hope that the next one will have not too many more characters and go into more depth on the people that are there. I absolutely loved the ending though!😀
on 18 May 2010
Dragons have become increasingly humanised in the last couple of decades. Their popularity in the speculative fiction genre certainly hasn't diminished (you only need to look at the popularity of Naomi Novik's Temeraire novels for evidence of that) but their primal ferocity has been gradually replaced with intelligence and docility. Which is fine as far as it goes, but this transition perhaps left some folk longing for dragons to return to their roots as the terrifying beasts of legend. Simon Spanton at Gollancz certainly felt this way, and more importantly he thought others did as well. Subsequently he commissioned unknown author Stephen Deas - on the back of a synopsis and a few sample chapters - to write a trilogy that placed dragons back in in their rightful place: the top of the food chain.
Spanton turned out to be right. The first novel in Deas's trilogy, The Adamantine Palace, apparently sold over 8000 copies in its first month of release.
Yet while this is a novel that unmistakably revels in the sheer destructive force of dragons, it is one where the story is actually largely driven by the human factor. To say the dragons are mere window-dressing would be wide of the mark, but The Adamantine Palace, at its heart, is a novel about human emotions and foibles - lust, greed and ambition chief among them. Make no mistake, the dragons play a prominent role, but this is essentially a tale of shady politics and political intrigue, where a number of factions jostle for the ultimate prize - the empire itself.
Chief among these competitors is Prince Jehal, a pleasingly cunning and sardonic individual, driven by his insatiable ambition. Jehal is easily the most engaging character, not just because of his witty personality but also because of his determination to attain his goals by means both foul and fair. He's both repulsive and riveting in equal measure - the sort of character it's hard not to cheer for, even though he's a lying, murdering bastard.
The rest of the cast lack Jehal's magnetism, though despite this there are some other engaging figures. Hyram is one, a man who is fighting both his failing health and the political machinations of the rivals that want his position. Zafir is another; a newly-crowned queen with an ambition and ruthlessness that matches Jehal's. In fact, the relationship between the two is particularly intriguing - it's enjoyable to consider whether their remarks and acts towards each other are genuine, or all part of yet another political game.
Some of the other characters could have done with a little more development and depth. The background of Sollos and Kemir could have done with more exploration to really clarify their motivations (and why the POV for their scenes switches from Sollos to Kemir halfway through the book, rather than just sticking with Kemir from the start, is a little bewildering). Queen Shazira doesn't come across quite as strongly as some of the other players and her relationships with her three daughters may have benefitted from some added tension or conflict, just to spice them up a little. Meteroa is another character that would have benefitted from more exposure, as he shows hints of being an interesting customer, though perhaps his time will come.
The strongest aspect of Deas's debut is the pacing (perhaps born from the speed at which he sketched out the basic framework for the trilogy, which allegedly took him only a single weekend). The chapters are pleasingly short, meaning that events unfold at a relentless speed that holds the reader's attention. Furthermore, the lean, brisk prose ensures the narrative doesn't get bogged down in the reams of detail that sometimes derails epic fantasy novels. At times it's easy to forget you're reading an epic fantasy, such is the direct approach that Deas takes. And this is a good thing - it's refreshing to see feasts and other typical events dealt with in the space of a paragraph. The focus is very much on the characters and the events, not on superfluous detail. The downside of this is arguably a lack of historical detail; a touch more depth to the world would have been welcome. Yet it should be said that there some very neat ideas here, particularly with regards to the methods that humans use to keep the dragons in check - and the consequences when these methods cannot be implemented.
Verdict: On the whole, The Adamantine Palace is a strong debut, mixing intriguing politicking with the brute force of dragons. Uneven characterisation is made up for with excellent pacing and deft plotting, and the result is an absorbing, satisfying read with plenty left in the locker for the future instalments (of which the second, The King of the Crags, was released last month). Dragons are back at the top of the food chain, in all their fire-breathing primal glory.
on 16 June 2014
If you enjoy fantasy epics that challenge you, this series could be for you. Looking for GOT type reading I purchased this, quickly finished it and then purchased the remaining books.
Dragons, an interesting world, kings and queens, politics, betrayal, magic, war.
It has it all
on 11 April 2009
This book has the lot, intrigue, court machinations, Kings and Queens back stabbing each other, the plot is woven together with ease and the short chapters make this a very fast paced book which doesn't let up until the very last page. The plots and intrigue difinately draw you into the book and I didn't want to put it down. The down side I would have liked to have more of the world revealed, but that aside I can't wait for the next volume. Think GRRM's intrigue but with a bit more subtlety.
on 25 March 2009
Dragons are scary. Heart-stoppingly, bone-shatteringly scary. Aren't they? Well, if much recent fantasy is to go by - not really. Despite a ready stream of dragon literature, few have successfully exploited the most obvious characteristic of these mythical beasts. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance series occasionally conjures a shudder of fear, but it's essentially lost in the tumult of storylines that indicate its role-playing origins. Anne McCaffrey's dragons are like giant pets; emotionally synced to their riders, they make for interesting reading but don't ignite the pure terror that dragons should naturally inspire. It is nice, then, to see an author unashamed of returning to what made these beasts so idolised in the first place: the fact that they are enormous, fire breathing, impenetrable monsters.
The dragons in Deas's debut don't start off as objects of terror. When we first come across them, the winged beasts are domesticated creatures used by the aristocracy for hunting, sport and war. Kept docile by a potion fed to them in secret and created by the revered Alchemists, few people know of the threat they pose if deprived of their designated dose. Herein lies the crux of the story. When a big, white, scaly wedding gift goes missing en route to the ceremony things start to heat up (in more ways than one). Snow (the preposterously placating name of said gift) starts to remember the old days, when dragons dominated all other species and needed no rider to tell them how to fly.
It is during this precarious and volatile transition from domestic pet to wild animal that the fear we've been craving for in the genre finally returns. Harnessing the destructive power that lay dormant inside her for so long, Snow becomes a formidable force. Deas's artfully constructed prose cleverly juggles the magnificence of the rogue dragon with the vulnerability of man, subtly commenting on the pitfalls of human arrogance.
The dread escalates once we discover that dragons can communicate with humans (or `Little Ones' as Snow names them) through a transference of thoughts. Initially, Snow has an almost motherly affection for her `Scales' (the carer assigned to each dragon from birth, and in this case `Little one Kailin'). But horrifyingly she switches from protective patron to relentless killer, burning her `Little Ones' en mass and revelling in her own brutality.
However, this is all but one thread in a larger story arc that sees various political figureheads vie for power in a merciless fight for dominance. In a society where murder is simply a means to an end, the majority of the main players are well crafted and likeable, despite (and because of) their questionable moralities. Jehal is as addictive as he should be: a cunning, political player seemingly afraid of nothing and with a plan for everyone that breathes. Sheriza and her four daughters work well, but will need fleshing in the forthcoming sequels if they are to continue to be of interest.
Hyram (the current ruler) is one of the most intriguing characters, both pathetic yet resolute; his downfall is painfully pleasurable to witness. The final few chapters round up events neatly so as not to be frustrating but leaving enough questions and possibilities to keep us anticipating the sequel.
The Adamantine Palace tosses the reader between fascination, revulsion, compulsion and trepidation with barely a breath in between. Added to this is the fantastically real threat that your favourite character could be burnt to a crisp at any minute. This is a terrifying appetiser from what will surely be seen as a landmark in dragon-orientated fantasy.
on 12 November 2015
This is an excellent fantasy novel - I particularly like the tension created by the threat of the dragons recovering their intellectual powers and dominating nature.
on 25 March 2009
Okay, let's get this out the way. This is not a subtle book, although it has subtleties if you look for them. It's not a deep book, although it has depths here and there.
What it is is a thrill-ride, a breathless, gasping roller-coaster of a read that stuns and dazzles and kicks you in the teeth in roughly equal measure right from the off and simply doesn't stop until the end when it boots you off the ride and then laughs in your face. On top of that it has dragons. Proper bone-crushing, earth-shattering nuclear-timebomb dragons.
This is supposedly the first book of three. The rest of the trilogy will have to calm down a bit for the series as a whole to shine. But as a starter for ten, The Adamantine Palace in every way reflects the dragons it portrays, and the dragons are AWESOME.
A must have!