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A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, Book 1) Paperback – August 24, 2012
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"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. Learn more
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"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.
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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.
As befits a mythic origin there's a lot of "firsts" and "whys". We are introduced to Morlock, of course, and we are shown how his first higher-dimensional constructions baffle his teachers, before he becomes the master of master makers, and we also find out why he stubbornly clings to the traditions of the dwarves and spurns his own lineage. We also get to see other powers that play in the earlier novels in their stripling years, and learn some things about their relationships with each other and our grumpy friend.
I particularly like that Enge has resisted what must have been a temptation to wrap up all the origins and "firsts" in this first installment. There's lots of threads to be followed from this story into the next, as well as plenty of mysteries to fill in from the "later" stores in the earlier books. So, when can I pre-order the next volume? :)
"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. This is also the story of Morlock's first real adventure (other feats are alluded to, but nothing so grand), following a metre and pace that is reminiscent of a classic saga even when the story telling is modern.
For in the Northold, the dwarves find themselves cut off from the Graith of Guardians as a guile of dragons invades, reigniting the Longest War from before the dawn of history. Morlock, a thaen of the Graith, adopted son of the dwarves, trapped between both worlds, faces the failings of each as he is thrust into battling the dragons themselves.
Enge, who's unsecret real world identity is a classics professor, demonstrates that a writer is influenced by the books and life you lead. "A Guile of Dragons" is a worthy epic for any fantasy reader, containing a surprising depth and fullness that is rarely found in so short a book. I cannot say more about this book without spoiling it, so I will just say that I wholly and heartily recommend that it be read.
~Fantasy Book Addict
I can't decide if someone should start with this book. If you've read Blood of Ambrose or This Crooked way you'll have a better understanding of events. And they will carry more weight. It is on the lighter end in terms of the darker fantasy that you see in Enge's other books. And not nearly as graphic as some scenes from The Wolf Age. You can start with this book, it explains everything you need to know.
As always my favorite part about this series is the prose itself. Enge's style flows in a way I've never seen before.
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A Guile of Dragons is not your everyday fast-food fantasy book.Read more