The Adamantine Palace is a book I picked up recently - though it had been out since last March – partly because a cheaper paperback edition just came out and also because it is a nominee for both the David Gemmell Legend Award and a David Gemmell Morningstar Award. A new spin on the classical dragon’s story, with the Adamantine Palace, newcomer Stephen Deas makes a strong entry in the genre and a good start for his trilogy. I’d like to note that I really liked the cover; it’s simple and elegant and it and a mysterious kind of feel that’s perfect to make potential readers pick it up.
Blurb: Once Dragons ruled the world and man was little more than prey; then a way of subduing the dragons were discovered. Now the dragons are bred to be little more than mounts for knights and highly valued tokens in the diplomatic power-players that underpin the rule of the competing aristocratic houses. The Empire has grown fat. And now one man wants it for himself. A man prepared to poison the kind just as he has poisoned his own father. A man ready to murder his lover and bed her daughter. But unknown to him there are flames on the way. A single dragon has gone missing. And even one dragon on the loose, returned to its full intelligence, its full fury, could spell disaster for the Empire. But that is not all. Because of the actions of one of one unscrupulous mercenary the rivals for the throne could soon be facing hundreds of dragons…
This one was a bit of a slow start, and I had to get used to the fact that this would be mostly political intrigue rather than action, something that I actually quite enjoy, it’s just that I didn’t quite expect that from a book about dragons. Once that was done though, the politicking itself is smart and well thought out by Deas. He creates some suitably devious and malicious plotters, namely Jehal, regent of his kingdom since his father is incapacitated by the poison he has been administrating him for a decade, though Zafir, the young queen, has her moments as well. There is a lot of double crossing and twists but they remain very simple to understand.
The dragons themselves are quite interesting. Deas’s take on this classical fantasy creature is original though not entirely undone before. He gives us plenty of background on what the dragons use to be like, how they got to the condition they are in and just what they are capable of. When I said there was little action I didn’t mean any at all, in fact we get a couple of fire-breathing dragon fighting scenes. The descriptions of how the dragons actually handle their dragon mounts were a bit hazy to me, which is a shame since they could have been an interesting details.
The characters I felt could have been a bit more fleshed out, but it was nothing major. It led to a few slower moments in the book but did not really affect my overall appreciation of the Adamantine Palace. One bit that I really did not enjoy was a section which was told almost exclusively from the point of view of Snow, the escaped dragon, which I found to be a slight bit too slow and on the boring side. Kemir and Sollos, the mercenary cousins, are probably the most entertaining characters; they are humorous and they are the ones that are found in the most adventurous situations. Apart from them, probable the most relatable character is surprisingly enough Jehal. The character that is supposed to be the baddy is remarkably lovable, even while he is poisoning, plotting and screwing his way through the court of the dragon-realms.
A fun read that is making me look forward to the King of the Crags – the sequel - the Adamantine Palace is a book you might want to pick up if you’ve got nothing else of significance on your reading list, since its good, but probably not top rate, but it's also quite short so it might be worth it. I hope the King of the Crags can fix the little problems the Adamantine Palace had; little side note here: interesting choice of title since the King of the Crags is never mentioned in the Adamantine Palace unless it’s to say that he is never there, so I wonder what we’ll discover in this second novel.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading Age: 15 and up
Violence: Some with dragons involved
Sex/Language: Quite a bit of sex but nothing very descriptive, just very often. Not really any language
Stephan Deas's website: http://www.stephendeas.com/
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