Dragon Queen by Stephen Deas

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Rating 8.5/10
If you like dragons and subtle story telling, then this is for you.

“In the years before the Dragons laid waste to man's empire, the fearsome monsters were used for war and as gifts of surpassing wealth to buy favour in the constant political battles that tore at the kingdoms.

Notorious in these battles was the Dragon Queen. And now she is a prisoner. But no-one is more dangerous than when caged...”

Any reader of fantasy fiction knows that the dragon is the most powerful and awesome creature of all. What I liked about this novel, was author Stephen Deas’ ability to give his dragons personalities, purpose and character. Yes they are weapon’s of mass destruction, jealously guarded and nurtured as part of a greedy empire’s war machine, but they are not one-dimensional, and certainly not just there for decoration.

This epic fantasy novel is not a floaty, magical, feel-good romp either, as it explores war, slavery, exploitation and suffering. Yes there is magic, mainly in the form of the compelling character Bellepherous, the alchemist, but it is made clear that magic has its cost, even to its user.

Very human themes of gaining power and influence are explored in this world, and alchemists, with their knowledge of magic and dragons are inevitably much sought after.

The novel has interesting and vivid characters inhabiting its pages, such as Zafir the Dragon Queen, the slave Tuuran and the warrior Berren Crowntaker, living a walking nightmare as he finds himself trapped in someone else’s body.

This is a game of tactics, cunning, guile and survival. Do not be fooled by the impressive cover – this is not all about dragons, mayhem and battles, but is in fact a character-driven story with intrigue and sub-plots aplenty. I particularly enjoyed the cranky and crafty Bellepherous, as he attempts to always stay one step ahead, as well as harbouring his terrible and awesome knowledge.

Clearly a lot of thought, imagination and passion went into writing this book. Deas shows the consequences of unleashing such a destructive force of nature, as well as the folly of trying to control this magnificent creature. The action really heats up (no pun intended) in the last 150 pages, with lots of desperate action and drama. If you like dragons and subtle story telling, then this is for you.

Dragon Queen by Stephen Deas
Published 2013 by Gollancz
ISBN: 978-0575100534

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