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Dragon Queen Paperback – August 1, 2013
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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About the Author
Stephen Deas is the author of the Thief-Taker series, which includes The Thief-Takers Apprentice, as well as the previous titles in the Memory of Flames series, The Adamantine Palace, The King of the Crags, and The Order of the Scales.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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So first, I really really liked this book. To get the very minor negatives out of the way, I think I would have been less confused about a few things if I had read any/ all of the previous books. Since there was no “what has gone before” section, I went to Goodreads reviews of the earlier books to find out as much as I could about the Dragon Queen and the Bloody Judge. I think I would have appreciated a one-page genealogy (family tree) of the sort one sees at the beginning of historical novels about the Kings and Queens of England. I would have liked a map (or maps). But I think you can read and enjoy this book without any of these extras.
Have I mentioned that I really liked this book? The main characters are multidimensional, complete with pasts that shaped and motivated them, and present situations that give them obstacles to attack head on, find ways around, or rise above. There are too many to describe them all so I will talk about my favorites. I like that Bellepheros is not a teenager trying to find himself. He is a world weary Alchemist, trying to make the best of a bad situation. He finds purpose and meaning in doing the job he was trained for, albeit under different circumstances. Chay-Liang is a delight, a professional Enchantress who is intelligent and as open-minded as her culture will allow. Zafir, the titular Dragon Queen (and rider) is what her world has made her. She is intriguing, damaged and dangerous yet always true to her own values. Both women are strong and complex characters. There are other major characters, who no doubt some of you will like better than the ones I picked to describe. There are warrior types, sailors and priests. They all are products of their cultures, and we learn enough about these cultures (rules about how to act properly in various situations, what to wear, etc.) to understand for the most part what drives their decisions.
So that brings me to world-building. This is a fascinating “world” with several geopolitical units and more than one level of existence. There is a dark passage requiring long voyages and special technology to traverse. There are several kinds of magic. There is the gold-and-glass Taiytakei technology, an intriguing blend of what must be science but seems like magic. There is the hierarchical Taiytakei social structure and economy, of which slavery is an integral part. Taiytakei clothing reflects social status, as clothing often does. Color is used to signal profession and rank (slaves wear - and often are - white); hair is allowed to grow and braided to the ground to show status; feathered capes mean wealth and indicate position. The origins and culture of the Thief-taker lands of Berren and Skyrie also are given attention, although this material is less detailed, and seems less exotic than the Taiytakei material. (There are many hints of civilizations and events that have gone before, but this is where I get confused and wonder whether I would know more if I had read the earlier books. Who are these grey men, anyway?).
And then there are the dragons, the focal point of Zafir’s existence and of her Adamantine culture of origin. These are fierce and angry creatures that do not willingly befriend or serve the people they call the little ones. The history and complexity of this relationship alone is worth the reading of this book (series).
I’ve tried not to spoil anything, which means I have not said much about the plot. The storyline involves political vision, ambition and intrigue; it involves personal growth for some, and tragedy for some (not necessarily mutually exclusive). A lot is resolved in the mad dash last 100 pages of the book, but a lot is left for the next book. Or our imaginations. I don’t want to say more because I want to avoid revealing things that should be surprises. I look forward to reading more about this world. From the other reviews I’ve read, each book is better than the last, so maybe I’ll move forward instead of back. Because I really want to know what happens next.
That is right, Zafir is alive!!! The last we read of our buddy who destroyed the realms with her scheming with Prince/King Jehal she was on a ship of the Taitekyi (sp?) and being beaten to a pulp. Well she survived. Zafir ends up murdering the heir to a powerful Sea Lord of the TTK and from that point on it is a wild adventure.
You see into Zafir's psyche and you learn of a new dragon, Diamond Eye. Diamond Eye is on the cover and dominates the later 1/4 of the book.
The only issue I have with the book is not the writing, the quality is great, the character developing, stereotype destroying, and world building are the best in the series by far.
The issue I have is that I never read the other series that is merged into this book. The book is also a continuation of Deas (the author) "Thief Taker's Apprentice" series, which I have not read. I was lost and got lost in the middle of the book but by the end the author wove enough of the tale so that I could follow enough.
Isual Aieha . . the Silver King mentioned with great regard in, "The Black Mausoleum" also shows some of his power in this book.
Check it out, good read, about 640 pgs. But it moves fast and has good characters.
The Elemental Men > The Faceless Men . .. . JMO