Author of one of BuzzFeed ‘s Greatest Fantasy Books of 2013
In his magnificent, heroic, adventure fantasy, Dragonslayer, Duncan M. Hamilton debuts the first book in a fast-moving trilogy: a dangerous tale of lost magics, unlikely heroes, and reawakened dragons.
Once a member of the King’s personal guard, Guillot dal Villevauvais spends most days drinking and mourning his wife and child. He’s astonished—and wary—when the Prince Bishop orders him to find and destroy a dragon. He and the Prince Bishop have never exactly been friends and Gill left the capital in disgrace five years ago. So why him? And, more importantly, how is there a dragon to fight when the beasts were hunted to extinction centuries ago by the ancient Chevaliers of the Silver Circle?
On the way to the capitol city, Gill rescues Solène, a young barmaid, who is about to be burned as a witch. He believes her innocent…but she soon proves that she has plenty of raw, untrained power, a problem in this land, where magic is forbidden. Yet the Prince Bishop believes magic will be the key to both destroying the dragon and replacing the young, untried King he pretends to serve with a more pliable figurehead.
Between Gill’s rusty swordsmanship and Solene’s unstable magic, what could go wrong?
Thanks to the publisher and author for an advanced reading copy of Dragonslayer (Dragonslayer #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.
First off, Richard Anderson is probably the best cover designer out there so I’ll pick up any book solely based on his artwork. He is a fantastic follow on IG (flaptraps) if you are a cover connoisseur like myself. Another thing that intrigued me was the author behind the story. Seeing how well received his Wolf of the North trilogy was (thought I haven’t cracked it) gave me hope that I was in for a spectacular story.
Well, Dragonslayer fell a little short of expectations, unfortunately. Not that it is necessarily a bad read, but it plays heavy on much-used tropes and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. The writing is great and the storyline was fine, especially the scenes from our dragon antagonist’s POV, but everything else was sorta meh. The characters aren’t very memorable, there is a ton of dialogue, and with a title like Dragonslayer, I expected a good bit o’ slayin which I didn’t really receive. The ending left hope that the story will gain some momentum in Books 2 & 3, and I do plan on seeing if that holds true, but I don’t expect to be champing at the bit to get the sequels.
All of the faults I perceive could be chalked up to the fact that I don’t read much classic fantasy which is more world-building / character-background oriented fantasy and lacks some of the hack-n-slash that I am used to in today’s releases. I enjoy fast-paced stories with memorable characters, bloody battles, and world-building that you can visualize yourself standing amongst. I just didn’t get that here and it left me scrambling for my next read.
All in all, if you enjoy classic fantasy and stories about dragons and their slayers, give Dragonslayer a shot and see if you like it. I just can’t give it a high recommendation.