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A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, Book 1) Paperback – August 24, 2012
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- Publishers Weekly starred review
"Providing a back door into the Arthur/Merlin mythos, Enge creates a fascinating counterpoint to the familiar legends."
- Library Journal
“Morlock is a wonderful character—powerful and noble, tragic and comic—with more than a small nod to Don Quixote.”
- Rick Riordan, New York Times-bestselling author
"Enge's books are like a strange alloy of Raymond Chandler, Fritz Lieber, Larry Niven and some precious metal that is all Enge's own. They're thrilling, funny, and mysteriously moving. I see 10 things on every page I wish I'd written. I could read him forever and never get bored."
- Lev Grossman, New York Times-bestselling author of The Magicians
"A delightfully thoughtful fantasy. Instead of recycling tired old tropes with dragons, dwarves, and general magical folk, [Enge] creates a new context for a son of Merlin story. . . . A must-read for anyone who enjoys elegant ideas converted into pure adventure."
- City Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
"A Guile of Dragons" is not some mere copy.
Yes, it employs many of the elements that we might quickly label a High Fantasy trope - dwarves, dragons, ancient terrors, and the name Merlin (or at least his son, Morlock). Its important to remember that it is not what elements a writer uses, but how they use them, that brings distinction. Enge does not treat these elements lightly - the history and culture of the dwarves alone are an integral part of this story, hinting at a depth we never see a bottom to. The shortness of the work (@300 pages) is belied by the depth and fullness of the characters that populate it. These are thick characters, populating the pages not because they fill a need but because it is their story to tell.
Set as a prequel for Enge's character, Ambrosius, aka Morlock syr Theorn, "A Guile of Dragons" introduces us to a small cast of recurring characters, each of whom demonstrates a depth and fullness usually reserved for the titular character. Not having read the other books in this milieu proved to not be a problem - as a prequel, it is a well contained volume, beginning with the birth of Morlock, son of Merlin, and the circumstances that place young Morlock in the care of the dwarves of Thrymhaiam to the north.Read more ›
Enge makes his universe unique, memorable, and internally consistent and fills it with some of the best drawn characters in fiction. Deft touches with half dozen words do what many writers fail to do in hundreds of pages.
The opening chapters certainly felt a bit rushed, as if Enge were impatient to have Ambrosius grow up, without getting into the whole coming-of-age storytelling mess. Don't get me wrong, there are some authors who have done the coming-of-age thing well (Tad Williams immediately comes to mind), but all too often it feels like padding, so I'm not disappointed that Enge passed it by.
Fortunately, once we get outside the city and meet back up with Earno, the man responsible for Merlin's exile, the story really begins to pick up. There's a subtle antagonism between the two men that you can feel, and enough conflicted loyalties on both sides to really add some tension to the tale. Neither are particularly likable as protagonists, which does present a bit of a challenge - especially when the dwarves so often steal the show - but they're interesting, and admirable in their own way.
It's with the first appearance of the dragons, however, that Enge completely won me over. It seems as if dragons have become somewhat passé in recent years, as gritty realism and militaristic tales have come to dominate much of the market, so it was refreshing to encounter real dragons again - intelligent, greedy, treasure-seeking, malevolent creatures, full of magic and fire.Read more ›
He returns in "Guile of Dragons" (Pyr, $17.95, 278 pages), which is book one of the Tournament of Shadows, and which appears to be James Enge's backstory for the Morlock readers have encountered in three previous books. This is all good news, for Enge is a more than capable writer and Morlock is one of the more intriguing antiheroes out there right now, given his struggles to survive in a bleak pre-industrial world.
In "Guile of Dragons," Morlock is a young soldier, of sorts, who gets involved when dragons invade the territory he must protect. At the same time, Morlock must deal with revelations regarding Merlin, his arrogant father who was imprisoned by another wizard before Morlock was born, as well as his surrogate father, the leader of the dwarves who raised him.
But don't think that means readers must plow through long passages of Freudian patriarchy issues - the action is constant, the writing crisp and the extra depth added to the narrative by those paternal issues only adds to the book. So if you haven't yet read any of Enge's books, this is the place to start - and you have a lot of good reading ahead of you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is another fantastic tale of Morlock the Maker - this time bringing us back to his younger days living with the Dwarves. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mike J. Natale
A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, Book 1), by James Enge, is a high fantasy novel set as a prequel for Enge’s character, Ambrosius, or Morlock syr Theorn. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Clay R. Haase
Posted previously on The Qwillery.
A Guile of Dragons is not your everyday fast-food fantasy book. Read more
Its a good book but a bit wordy at times. Never read any of his offer books so felt at timesPublished on November 13, 2013 by Milja Saldarriaga
After 100 pages I gave up on A Guile of Dragons. Life is too short and there are too many great books out there to spend time reading something that doesn't hold your attention. Read morePublished on October 7, 2012 by John Bourhis
I thought the plot was too disconnected. The main character and thus the story, was going somewhere, but I did not know where or why. Read morePublished on September 21, 2012 by Chuck