4 out of 4 stars
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Two brother kingdoms are at war: Skarda and Disson. Captain Gaerbith and his men fight to protect Disson and the free Territories from Skarda’s mad king Morfran. Gaerbith is also heir to a secret: the location of a legendary sword that could end the war and restore a true king to the Skardian throne. Meanwhile, King Morfran seeks a smith to make a false replica of the sword and secure his claim to the kingdom. The only problem? The sword of legend was forged from a deep blue metal called etherium (the only metal that can harm Dragons) and only the descendants of the original wielder, Kel, can even touch the material without going mad. Back in Skarda, the Lady Yanámari plots to escape her father’s control and experience life outside the royal city, and in a village far removed from the battlefield lives Kieran, a young blacksmith who was taken in as a child and has no memory of the first years of his life.
Dragon’s Rook by Keanan Brand is a highly developed epic, complete with heroes, servants of evil, Dragons, and magic. It has an ancient cadence that completely takes the reader out of this world and into a fantastic realm that rivals any other. Backstories and motives are revealed as the story unfolds, and intertwining viewpoints leave the reader eager to learn more.
I absolutely adored this story. Brand weaves his tale using a language style reminiscent of older times, which captivated my inner fantasy nerd (although he occasionally uses language so archaic that I needed to look up the words to be sure of my understanding). Certain characters were immediately established as key players; others were introduced as the story went on, but it was done in such a way that it never felt forced, even when the main storyline was interrupted by a few paragraphs about a character in a place that hadn’t yet been mentioned. The overall organization of the story was good, and the occasional sudden twists left me both confused and delighted.
As far as critique goes, there isn’t much to say. The first part of the story, introducing the various characters and key events, was a bit muddled because it changed viewpoints so often (sometimes three or four times during a single chapter). However, once the story settled into a pattern and stuck with one group or another for a few chapters, it was easier to keep the various plots and subplots straight. It could use a quick proofread, just to catch the occasional missing or misspelled word, but there were no errors that detracted from the reading of the story itself.
Overall I would give Dragon’s Rook 4 out of 4 stars. This tale is suitable for readers of all ages, although the intermittent use of archaic language could prove challenging to a younger reader. It is both an interesting and an entertaining read, fast-paced and engaging. Not the sort of book I would choose for a bit of light reading, this story is more likely to be devoured in one or a few sittings – you have been warned! I am eagerly awaiting the second and final installment of the series, Dragon’s Bane, and I think any fantasy lover who gets a taste of Brand’s magic will do the same.
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