When a group of mages-in-training raids a dragon’s lair searching for a magical artifact and accidentally awakes the sleeping giant – the likes of which Mirabaya has not seen for hundreds of years – the Prince Bishop summons Guillot dal Villerauvais to the capital to discuss the matter. Gill (as he is known) is a Chevalier of the Silver Circle – an ancient order traditionally tasked with protecting the people from Dragons. He rescues a young woman named Solene on the way, who, as it turns out, has an affinity for magic. Upon his arrival, Gill is tasked with killing the dragon; the problem is, Gill has never actually faced one. The Chevaliers are all but defunct, the title a hollow remnant of the past. As Gill sets off with a small group of mages to take on the dragon, Solene decides she wants to use her newfound power to help him. With the aid of another mage she escapes the capital and follows Gill to the dragon’s lair. Together, they must find a way to defeat the dragon or die trying. The fate of Mirabaya depends on it.
Dragonslayer is classic adventure fantasy. AND I AM HERE FOR IT. A big bad monster appears and wreaks havoc. An unlikely hero reluctantly agrees to save the day. He finds himself a group of misfits to help do the dirty work… and things do not go as planned.
Gill is a perfect trope-y hero for this story. He starts off as a pitiful waste of space, an ex-knight and war hero who has spent the last several years mourning the losses of his wife and daughter and languishing at the bottom of a bottle. Gill’s journey becomes as much about confronting his past and redeeming himself as it is about slaying the dragon. He has a power-hungry arch-nemesis/ex-best friend who is doing anything and everything within his capabilities to get Gill killed and take the credit for saving the people. Seeing Gill navigate his demons and the political atmosphere while trying to figure out how he is going to kill a dragon makes this book worth a read all on it own.
One unique aspect that sets this story apart for me is that we get the dragon’s point-of-view. As readers, we are used to dragons being used as weapons, or painted as divine overlords, or even demonized; but, we almost never get to hear their thoughts. In Dragonslayer, the dragon explains in is own words why he destroys, and the reader experiences his inner-struggle with killing humans. Hearing from the dragon himself creates a much-needed layer to a story that, on the surface, lacks depth.
Speaking of lacking depth, that is one of the aspects where Dragonslayer could be improved, in my opinion. The story is very simplistic. There are several opportunities to go into more depth on the history of this world the author has created, but the story remains surface deep.
Another fault of the story in my opinion is that there are no strong women in the book. Of the few female-presenting persons, the one that comes across as strong has only a few lines and does not survive the first half of the book. Solene, a main character and mage-in-training, does not go through the same journey of finding herself as Gill does. She is mostly pulled in all different directions on the whims of men and never gets to take the lead. I am hoping to see this aspect of the story improve in Book 2.
All-in-all, Dragonslayer is an enjoyable fantasy read. While it can come across as trope-y and simplistic, there is still room in the fantasy world for well-written stories featuring unlikely heroes searching for redemption. And there is ALWAYS room for dragons. I recommend this book for fantasy readers looking for a lighter read as a break from their epic fantasy climbs.