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A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, Book 1) Paperback – August 24, 2012


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A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, Book 1) + Wrath-Bearing Tree (A Tournament of Shadows) + Blood of Ambrose
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (August 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616146281
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616146283
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Efficiently excellent epic fantasy. . . . Enge's engaging portrait of Morlock. . .will have readers hunting down earlier books to learn more about the adventurer and his history."
- 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

About the Author

James Enge is the author of Blood of Ambrose (nominated for a World Fantasy Award), This Crooked Way, The Wolf Age, Travellers' Rest, A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows Book One), Wrath-Bearing Tree (A Tournament of Shadows Book Two), and The Wide World's End  (A Tournament of Shadows Book Three) . His fiction has appeared in Black Gate, Flashing Swords, and Every Day Fiction. He is an instructor of classical languages at a Midwestern university.

More About the Author

James Enge lives with his wife in northwest Ohio, where he teaches classics at a medium-sized public university. His short fiction has appeared in SWORDS AND DARK MAGIC (Harper, 2010), in the magazine BLACK GATE, in the upcoming anthology BLACKGUARDS (Ragnarok, 2015) and elsewhere. His previous novels are BLOOD OF AMBROSE (Pyr, 2009), which was listed on Locus magazine's Recommended Reading for 2009 and nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 2010, THIS CROOKED WAY (Pyr, 2009), and THE WOLF AGE (Pyr 2010). His current project is a trilogy, A Tournament of Shadows, of which the first two volumes have seen the light; the third (THE WIDE WORLD'S END) will be released in winter 2015.

Customer Reviews

To the would be readers... DONT DO IT.
B-Ski
I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
B. S. Cheney
The characters become just as bland as the setting.
Nickolas X. P. Sharps

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. P. Cummings on September 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
High Fantasy often faces the criticism that it is a poor reflection of the works that have gone before it, most notably Tolkien. By employing the same basic mythos with a highly Western European (and generally, British) composition, many chide that too much of fantasy falls into this trap and needs to be refreshed with something edgier, or something more original. The end result is generally a poor facsimile that inevitably fails to shine in comparison.

"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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marcia J. Martak on September 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book and it definitely would recommend all three books. Exciting and keeps you eager to see what happens next. Plus - all three books have been completed so you won't have to wait forever for the last book - by that time you've forgotten what you'd read in the last 2 books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harry W. Holland Jr. on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Yes, it has wizards and dwarves and dragons, but this is no rehash of Tolkein. Read this book if you want to learn what the *real* relationship is between those who dig in the earth and those who covet the fruits of their labors.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LaughingLion on September 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read all his novels to date and just adore his work.

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.

Love it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bob Milne on August 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
In this first book of his Morlock Ambrosius origin story, James Enge provides us with a 'classic' epic fantasy tale, centered around the clash between dwarves and dragons, augmented with a little alternative history, a story of parallel worlds, and a really interesting take on the Arthurian legends. It's an odd mix of storytelling elements, but A Guile of Dragons works quite well, despite a few awkward passages.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Clay Kallam on June 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
Morlock Ambrosius, son of Merlin and Nimue from the Arthurian legends, has a crooked shoulder, a resistance to fire and a dark pysche that probably would result in a 21st century prescription for Welbutrin.

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.
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