This book has surprisingly little in the form of actual battles, but really makes up for it in character developement. What Stackpole did was what we were all hoping for in "Fortress Draconis" which is delved back in to the story of Tarrant Hawkins a.k.a. Kedyn's Crow. He finally explains in depth what happened to Tarrant after the cliffhanger at the end of "The Dark Glory War" and really pulls the character out of the mud. Also, Will is written very well and shows how much he has grown from the bratty thief from Yslin to the person fated to save the world.
The Love story between Crow and Princess Alexia is developed in a superb way, conveying how much these two people love and respect each other without being overly mushy. It is somewhat awkward at times, but still very good.
Then there is the portly young mage, Kerrigan Reese who is loosing his incredible naivete, and gaining knowledge about the world as well as his unusual powers.
And finally, for the first time in the series, the main villain Chytrine gets more page time than just a few paragraphs at the end so you really get a sense of her goals and what kind of character she is. And "the heroes who would be the villains" from "The Dark Glory War" get some face time so you see that some may be playing two games where others are just obvious hero fodder.
There is of course an entire horde of new characters introduced in addition to the old ones that all contribute in one way or another to make the story fly by.
So, all in all an excellent book that ties up some loose threads from previous books and unravels even more for the final one. The few battles there are are of course very well done, but as I said, the focus is on the character developement. Usually, this would chase me away from a book, but Mike Stackpole actually pulls it off with flying colors.
This report prepared by Jacob Knudsen
Bantam, Pace 2002, 14.95, 450 pp.
The evil sorceress Chytrine rules the frozen lands of the North with a cruelty that rivals nothing the world has ever seen before, but also lusts after more as she obsesses with becoming the Empress of the South. To accomplish her quest, Chytrine searches for the seven broken parts of the Dragon Crow's because that artifact will enable her to control dragons and subsequently the world. Quite formidable without the dragons, Chytrine's army is conquering the southern nations.
Her opponents seem less menacing to the Sorceress than they did when they defeated her a quarter of a century ago. Backed by the heroic but battle veteran Crow and rookie sorcerer Kerrigan, Princess Alexia of Orkennell leads an army struggling to defeat Chytrine. While her foes organize and southern kings plan on a conference to stop her, Chytrine hunts Will Norrington of the Prophecy, because she believes he, or one of his bloodline, is the only individual who could destroy her. Life seems bleakest for Alexia and her allies for Chytrine's forces appear invincible even without the dragons.
Michael A. Stackpole's latest epic fantasy is a classic good vs. evil tale that will thrill genre fans due to an action-packed story line and strong heroes risking their lives to stop an ostensibly insurmountable malfeasance. Though they hurt and love, each one knows the stakes if they lose. They make mistakes, suffer setbacks, and know pain yet keep rising up as if they are the greatest generation through courage, cunning, camaraderie, and caring that hooks the reader to learn what happens WHEN DRAGONS RAGE.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner