About the Book
The last Aturan King is dying, and as his strength fades so does his hold on sa and ka. Control of this power is a deadly lure; the Emperor stirs in his Forbidden City to the East, while deep in the Seared Lands, the whispering voices of Eth bring secret death. Eight men and women take their first steps along the paths to war, barely realizing that their world will soon face a much greater threat; at the heart of the world, the Dragon stirs in her sleep. A warrior would become Queen, a Queen would become a monster, and a young boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay.
Full disclosure: I read an early review of this book and I consider Deborah Wolfe to be a friend of mine, and I have a blurb on the back cover of said book, so this review is biased from the get-go.
Now that we have that out of the way…
The Dragon’s Legacy is one of those books that I’ve been waiting for someone to write. It’s an epic work, and an intimate one at the same time. There is a lot that happens in this book, and does have the potential of overwhelming some readers. If you aren’t into epic fantasy, and made up languages, and secondary worlds and all that stuff, then you’ll probably want to move on from this book. However, if you are into all that stuff, then here you go, folks. This is the book you’ve been waiting for.
The worldbuilding is the first thing that attracted my attention. I’m a sucker for different cultures, exotic lands, and the inevitable culture clashes that ensue from all of that. In a lot of ways, Wolf was brave regarding how she built her world. It’s not set in a European-esque setting (thank you for that, by the way). There are different power dynamics than people would probably expect to see, and there are culture clashes and plenty of other things that make this world go from something someone else dreamed up, to something that feels real.
Now, let’s get back to how I said that Wolf was brave when writing this book. Speculative Fiction is starting to move away from the tropes where the men are men and the women are home in the castle. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but I do think that it is important to give a different role to women. Let women be the strong ones, the heroes, the people who go out and kick ass and take names. In that respect, and in the respect of seeing people of color playing important roles in a book, this one absolutely excels. Personally, I think this is a fantastic thing. I also think that, with certain uh… groups…. in the genre these days, it will probably ruffle some feathers.
The book takes some time to set all the pieces up and prepare the world for the epicness that is about to befall on it. This is the first book in a series, and in some ways you can tell right away. Wolf is setting up the world. She’s explaining the rules, and setting the guidelines. She largely avoids infodumps, but she is painting her readers a picture. Things happen. Important things happen, things that will doubtlessly leave you engrossed and on the edge of your seat, but as you read you will know that Wolf is setting the playing field up for what is to come.
The point I want to segue into from that last paragraph is fairly simple. If this is just Wolf setting up a world, moving her pieces around, preparing all her characters and her readers for the Big Stuff that is going to come next, then this is one holy hell of a setup. It’s a book in its own right. It owns its story and it owns it in a positive, big way, but it’s also setting up for something more, and I honestly can’t wait to see what that “something more” is. If book one is this well developed, then book two will inevitably blow my socks off.
By and large the pacing was well done. There were some points where things lagged a little bit, or maybe it took too long for things to get to The Point of the scene, if that makes sense. Those are small quibbles, though. This is an epic book, and if you’re an epic reader you’ll realize that usually epic books take some time to get the ball rolling, and Wolf does a great job at filling that part of the book with interesting scenes, interesting characters, and interesting discussions. And also, Wolf absolutely does not shy away from bloodshed, and it’s never gratuitous.
Basically, The Dragon’s Legacy is one of those books that is an asset to a genre I love so much. It shines a light on diversity, powerful women, and a complex plot set in a unique world. There are foreign cultures, and strange people, and it all mixes together well to create a book that is an important, worthy addition to any speculative fiction library.