I’m hooked on a story, and what a story it is.
Last year, I read and reviewed Dragonsong by Ian Thomas Curtis, the first in a series of novels with the general title of The Canticles of Andurun. The novel falls into the fantasy genre, but the story was so exciting and I became so caught up in it that I blew right past “fantasy” and instead focused on what it really was – a great story.
Now comes the second volume in the series: Dragonmarch. Second novels in a series can sometimes disappoint, unable to sustain the momentum of the first novel.
Dragonmarch does not have that problem. If anything, the story is becoming even more riveting.
Justias Eventine is a young man in a village in the land of Kallandaros, a sprawling continent largely controlled by dragons and the clerics who serve them, although “soldier” is a more apt definition than “cleric.” For 200 years, the dragons and clerics have allowed the old noble houses to maintain some semblance of authority, but that is beginning to change, and the dragons are beginning their moves to eradicate all of humanity.
In Dragonsong, Justias and his father William help an injured cleric, who is fleeing the order. Because of that help, the people of the village are killed and the two Eventines become something of outlaws. Eventually, Justias does something that no one believed possible – he kills a dragon. He becomes the dragon slayer – the one foretold who would arise to overthrow the rule by the dragons.
In Dragonmarch, representatives of an order known as the Men of Valor determine that Justias is indeed the one foretold, and he is crowned king, igniting a series of events involving the clerics and their allies, the old nobility and its determination to destroy the new king, and the assembling of armies to march upon the main stronghold of the nobility and so begin the final war of the dragons against humanity.
The story is fascinating. It’s a large, complex tale, more an epic than a single story, with several narrative threads deftly woven together into a cohesive whole. Dragonmarch is a story of faith and hope, betrayal and death, a realistic story in which the good often die and the bad seem to fund new ways to survive and flourish. It’s a world full of dangers, but a world in which a few brave men and women are willing to fight evil. And their courage attracts people to fight alongside them.
These are large themes painted across a large canvas that is the world of Kallendaros. I’m constantly amazed by the attention to detail, as Curtis shapes and reveals this world and its denizens. And the suspense builds through a series of skirmishes and minor battles, swordfights, an attack by a goblin army, a dragon set loose on a cleric-controlled city (the dragons are as much into treachery as the humans are), and a plot to assassinate the new young king.
The novel has a cliffhanger ending, which left me shouting “No! I need to read the next chapter!” I’m definitely hooked on this wonderful, imaginative story.
My review of Dragonsong