Modo the great dragon stirs. He has been waiting to reclaim his greatest treasure, since he was poisoned and robbed by Barbatos. Generations have passed and his spies have searched and finally a scent has been found. Modo will have the wyrm-stone, or they will die. The descendants of the long dead Barbatos are twin brothers. Upon their fathers death, their inheritance was divided. Olybrius received the power, title and work of a highborn, his brother Orabas, the fabled shamir stone. Margaret is a shepherdess, her father will not claim her and her mother passed when she was a baby. A chance encounter with Olybrius will change her whole life. She is finally of age when the invitation to return to the castle arrives. No more slaving in the cold, she will go to the city and start again. Believing her father is the one who summoned her, she packs up and prepares for the ball. Little does she know Olybrius wishes to woo her and he has stolen the Shamir stone from his brother to do so. Now the dragon has come for it and everyone is in danger.
This story was a fantasy re-imagining of the story of Saint Margaret of Antioch. While i liked the bones of the story, it was a slow read. There was a good amount of redundancy in the first half of the story and some of the descriptions were overly elaborate and drawn out. I feel like a third of the book could be pared out and you would still have a full story that didn’t lose anything. The author can write well and the descriptions paint a lovely image, yet fail to inform the reader on context. I couldn’t decide if the world was an alternate earth, a current timeline or all completely invented with some similarly named places. I have a great love for epic fantasy and I can see how this story wants to be one, but for me it fell below it’s potential due to being bogged down with excessive material. However, underneath it all the, characters are interesting and the story has good bones.
3 out of 5 stars.
His golden eyes flicked open, blinked, and narrowed to a squint as he finally lifted up his great, horned head. He shrugged the veil of wings. He uncoiled from his most precious gem and lumbered upward, following the airborne trail up through the high tunnel to the opening just beside the cataract.
Only his muzzle appeared at first, shining like tar in the slanting sunlight, but even that merest of appearances stirred notice among the hovering hawks and vultures: Look. Be warned and wary. The master had awakened.
His head slid further out, taking in the day. The clouds had lifted. The sky was polished glass, but the familiar whisper was still there, coming from below. Down on the near shore of the inlet was a scuttled boat. Again his eyes narrowed, trying to figure from the tides just how long ago the wreck had occurred, and whether its victims were still on premise. He hoped not. Men had their place, but it wasn’t here.
…He crawled further out onto the ledge and extended his neck toward the curtain of water, which was fuller today than usual, gushing down from the mountains after all that rain. He helped himself to several gulps. He let the bracing cold beat on his head a while, then shook free with a glistening, majestic explosion, lifted his wings and leapt. He glided most of the way down, turning three wide circles in the crux of the fjord, his great spanned shadow dashing along the cliff-side, flicking across the cataract, then across the blue surface below, around and up and around again three times before finally re-meeting him, claw to claw, on the strand beside the boat…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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BROOKS HANSEN is an author, screenwriter, essayist, and teacher. His novels – THE MONSTERS OF ST. HELENA, PERLMAN’S ORDEAL, THE CHESS GARDEN, and BOONE (co-authored with Nick Davis) were all New York Times Notable Books. THE CHESS GARDEN was also selected as a PW Best Book of the Year in 1995. He has written one book for Young Readers, CAESAR’S ANTLERS, which he also illustrated. In 2009 he released his first memoir, THE BROTHERHOOD OF JOSEPH, and in 2005 he received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for his most recent book, JOHN THE BAPTIZER, which was published in 2009 by W.W. Norton. More recently, his fiction appeared in CENTRAL PARK: AN ANTHOLOGY (Bloomsbury USA, 2012), and he has an essay slated to appear in another upcoming anthology THE GOOD BOOK (Simon & Schuster, 2015).
Brooks Hansen is the critically acclaimed author of The Chess Garden and 7 other books, most recently Asmodeus: The Legend of Margret and the Dragon. He has recently launched his own imprint, Star Pine Books. He lives in Carpinteria, California with his wife and children.
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