on 9 March 2006
Master of Dragons is the final book in the Dragonvarld trilogy by Margaret Weis, and like so many other trilogies that are up and down from the beginning to the end, Weis completes the series in a positive manner after a true stinker of a second book. I really disliked Dragon's Son, but the third book definitely made up for it. It still suffered from some of the same problems, but ultimately it overcomes those deficiencies to make a somewhat thrilling conclusion.
The twin sons of Melisande, kept apart for so many years, have come together in DragonKeep, the hidden stronghold where sinister dragon-human breeding experiments are being done in order to establish dragon dominance over the human populace. It seems some of the dragons are threatened by some of the weaponry that humans are developing, weapons that could actually kill a dragon. Thus, the non-interference law of the dragons is being subverted by three dragons: Grald, Maristara, and Anora. An army is being raised, magic-wielding and unstoppable. Young Ven, the son of the dragon, is introduced to his many brethren, all fathered by Grald on various human females, and he is as repulsed as most normal humans are at him. Meanwhile, Marcus (Melisande's son by King Edward) and Evelina escape back to his home, to warn of the imminent danger. But will they be too late? And will even Draconas' help, he who is the dragon walker, be enough to stem the tide? The Parliament of Dragons is divided, and the cost of that might be the wiping out of humanity.
Weis really redeems herself with Master of Dragons. Yes, Evelina's still annoying (and more on her later), but Marcus is a much stronger character here than he was in the second book. We don't see a lot of Ven, so he wasn't as irritating either. In fact, the characterization all around was pretty good, with Draconas (as always) being the best and most fascinating. It truly helps this book that he is featured a lot more than he was before. He has walked among humans for many years, and he has a grudging affection for them, even as they get on his nerves. He spends some time hiding in DragonKeep as a little girl as he is being hunted by Grald and his minions. He ends up being sheltered by a nice couple whose daughter has been given to the dragon (though, as far as they know, she is thoroughly happy there, not knowing the evil truth). He feels a lot of sympathy for them, especially after he discovers the truth of what happened to their daughter.
There is one characterization issue that continued to bother me, but it wasn't the mishandling of the character that was the problem. There are characters that you love to hate, and those that you just wish you could reach through the page and rip them out of it so you never have to interact with them again while you are reading. Evelina is one of those characters. She's a scheming harpy, only looks out for herself, and unwittingly saves the day at the end, but her conniving just became abrasive to read about. It didn't help that Weis figuratively puts her in the reader's face, with many asides talking about her schemes (either through narration or Evelina's thoughts). I'm glad that she avoids a last minute redemption for her, however, as that would have truly grated and made the rest of the story virtually worthless.
The plot was a lot more interesting this time around, too. We finally see the culmination of the dragons' plans, and we see a lot of interesting interaction among the various dragons of the Parliament. Since I cared about the characters more this time, the action was actually quite tense. I was actually affected when Grald was threatening to fulfill his threats to take over Ven and use his body to lead the Dragon warriors to victory. I hated Evelina, I didn't want to see Marcus get hurt by her. Ok, I wouldn't have minded if a dragon swooped down and bit Evelina in two, but they can't all be winners. Overall, though, the plotting and the characters were quite well done. I didn't even mind the "how convenient" way that Evelina unwittingly saved everything, though I did roll my eyes a bit.
Weis' prose gives the action scenes a quite vivid feel, and I was almost able to see the dragons swooping around fighting each other. The final battle between Draconas and the last remaining dragon conspirator was breathtaking. Even more effective was the rescue of Marcus from the dragon army. While the characters involved (with the exception of Marcus) weren't anybody we had been introduced too, Weis gives them just enough depth that the inevitable result feels like it matters.
If it weren't for Evelina and Weis inability to make me even like to read about her (since we're obviously not supposed to like her), this book would easily be a 5-star conclusion to a great trilogy. Her ability to bring together all the myriad pieces that she's introduced in the first two books is very good. That, combined with the characterization that I did like, and plotting which made sense, makes this an enjoyable read. I can't wait to see what Weis has up her sleeve next.