Friday, October 9, 2009

Mistress of Dragons by Margaret Weis

I picked up this book by Margaret Weis a little less than a year ago at a discount store, in hardback. I can hardly pass up a discounted hardback in a genre I enjoy, so compulsively bought this book as well as the other two in the series.

One would wonder what more Weis has to say on dragons, given that she is the other half of the classic Dragonlance trilogies. However, in the end Weis delivers, and this book turned out to be an enjoyable read.

The gist of the book is thus: there is a small kingdom called Seth, that has the unfortunate luck of being attacked by dragons with alarming frequency. Defending this kingdom is an order of female monks, some trained in defensive magic, with the rest trained as warriors, and through both efforts they manage to keep the peace.

Of course, not everything is as it seems. Dragons are not the savage beasts humanity believes them to be; rather they are intelligent, with their own form of government and very strict hands off laws regarding humans. One of these dragons has broken that law, conquered a human kingdom, and rules it as her own.

The Kingdom of Seth.

Reading this book, the first few chapters were pretty rough; it almost seemed to me to be on the level of someone's fanfic. However, after the first few chapters, the story really rolled along and became intriguing. Unfortunately the book is rather short: although nominally coming in at 381 pages, I was easily reading more than 100pgs every night. The font size is rather large with lots of white space along the margins, suggesting to me that this book should have been more like 200pgs, but had been padded out to make it a thicker (and perhaps more appealing?) hardback. With that in mind (physical characteristics appear the same in the next 2 volumes) it seems to me that the publisher wanted to milk 3 volumes out of the series, when it probably should have been one book instead. While I'm not especially upset about this, as I got all volumes either at a discounter or via Ebay, I think if I paid full price for these books, I'd be a bit disappointed.

One note: at the end of the book two babies are born from one of the protagonists. While one baby is the result of a natural union, the second resulted from a rape by a dragon (if you thought dragons can't rape a human woman...), possessing a dragon's body from waist down. From my limited (Intro to Biology college class) knowledge on the subject of genetics, I don't think such a physical characteristic could happen, but given that this is fantasy (and there is a tradition of such things) one can easily give it the pass.

Finally, in compliance with our benevolent overlords, the FCC, I'd like to thank my wallet for supplying this review copy.

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