The Waking Fire: Book One of Draconis Memoria by Anthony Ryan
|The Waking Fire: Book One of Draconis Memoria by Anthony Ryan|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: More excellent epic fantasy from the bestselling fantasy debut author of 2013. This time the excellence comes attached to a slightly different mood, blending dragons and steampunk with a Ryder Haggard vibe. Ripping yarn, brilliantly told.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 592||Date: July 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
Mercenary Clayden Torcreek is blood-blessed, i.e. one of the few able to translate a few drops of drake's blood into an extraordinary attribute. It gets even better than that: Clayden is unregistered, making him unexpected and eminently hireable when the department of Exceptional Initiatives need someone to track the fabled white drake. His recruiter and contact is covert agent Lizanne Lethbridge who is currently gathering intelligence while posing as a maid to the spoilt young Tekela. It's worth it though – Tekela's father has something of interest. The problem is that Lizanne isn't the only one interested and so staying alive becomes increasingly difficult. Out at sea naval officer Hilemore is about to put his training to good use. Meanwhile in the inhospitable interior, Clayden's expedition only has to worry about savages and drakes of the gigantic, man-eating, fire breathing variety. That's alright then!
Author Anthony Ryan is the guy who kept us on the edges of our respective seats with his amazing Raven's Shadow trilogy. Now he's back with a new epic fantasy that feels a little different… in a very, very good way.
The world he weaves is a little different in that it has a mixed flavour, combining steampunk with a hint of Ryder Haggard at his best while Clay and his companions endanger life and limb in Victorian derring-do style. Later naval warfare joins the mix when the wonderfully named Second Lieutenant Corrick Hilemore becomes one of the first to see action in a burgeoning war. (He's good at names is Anthony. One can only wonder on what sort of evening Tekela was picked or, better yet, Ethylynne Drystone!)
This framework of adventure, expedition, warfare and espionage may have a vintage feel but the branding is totally Anthony Ryan. The fact that this is a world dependent on blood from creatures that would incinerate or tear us to pieces as soon as look at us gives it an edge. The abilities these dragonesque beasts confer through their blood being another masterly stroke. The attributes themselves depend on the drake's colour, the amount taken (and indeed, the amount available) causing some nail biting moments.
Those who come armed with expectations of Anthony's work don't leave disappointed. There's plenty of contextual violence and wry smiles in the point of view chapters. Lizanne comes across as a stuffy governess, poles apart from Clay but they, in common with Hilemore as our third PoV person, each have a distinct sense of humour that breaks the tension; sometimes wickedly so.
This is going to be a series in which some people vie with the drakes for the title of chief baddie. The danger wrought by the drakes is immediate and non-judgemental. Whereas man is a little less predictable. We may feel we know who to trust but prepare to have conceptions and assumptions twisted along the way.
With a series opener as unputdownable as this, I can't wait for Book 2. I have a feeling the last line of the book sets the tone for what's ahead. I won't spoil it so shall we just say it sounds as if it'll be in the same vein as this Book 1: ripping boys' (and girls') own at its best.
(A big thank you to Orbit for providing us with a copy for review. We also have a review of book two in the series.)
Further Reading: If you haven't read Anthony's debut trilogy, do please start at Blood Song; a treat awaits you. If you're already a fan and would like to continue your epic fantasy ride, then try Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay and/or Leviathan's Blood (Children) by Ben Peek.
The Waking Fire: Book One of Draconis Memoria by Anthony Ryan is in the Top Ten Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels 2016.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Waking Fire: Book One of Draconis Memoria by Anthony Ryan at Amazon.com.
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