The King of the Crags is the sequel to The Adamantine Palace (for which you can find my review here). I enjoyed the first installment in Stephen Deas’s first trilogy, though I remember having a few qualms about it. The King of the Crags is a step up even from that, and it clearly displays Deas’s growth as a writer. It’s faster than its predecessor, it’s exciting and all-around fun. It was published just last week by Gollancz, and just like with The Adamantine Palace, I really like the cover design/art.
Blurb: Prince Jehal has plotted and murdered his way to power. Speaker Hyram is dead. Queen Shezira faces trial for treason. Jehal is married to her daughter, Lystra, and has the new speaker, Zafir for his lover. He has everything he ever dreamed of. And he’s learning that dreams can swiftly become nightmares… On the edge of the Worldspine the fires of rebellion are burning. Fires fuelled by an ancient prophecy. The Red Riders are coming. And deep in the mountains, a dragon and sell-sword are plotting a very different revenge. And the flames they will bring are flames that could engulf the world. For: ‘Out of the sun there shall come a white dragon, and with the white dragon a red rider. Thieves and liars shall quiver and weep, for the rider’s name shall be Justice, and the dragon shall be Vengeance.‘
This sequel picks up the story only a short while after the events of The Adamantine Palace, which means a nice fluid transition and a quick start. That was one of the problems I’d had with the first book; I don’t mind slow starts but not in 300 and some page books. So that The King of the Crags began speedily was great news for me. The way Deas has organized the different parts was also a plus. With each subsequent section, he added new view points until in the last part every single point of view was being covered in some manner. In this way the story builds up noticeably and you can really feel it grow and expand into something even grander than what happened in The Adamantine Palace.
In this sequel I was looking forward to a lot more going on with the rebelled dragon but while there were a lot of passages with her, she really didn’t do all that much. A similar thing happens with Jehal, probably the most prominent character of the first book, who in this one gets moved to if not the background, then definitely to the side. The commander of the Adamantine Guard, Vale, was one of the new characters/point of views that I found the most engaging and which offered the most refreshing outlook on what was going on.
I mentioned in my review of the first book that while there was some action there was less than expected for a dragon book, and instead politics took up a greater part. I was fine with that at the time but I still prefer the more balanced story that the King of the Crags offers. Especially in terms of battles, The King of the Crags had some really neat action. Where I found Deas’s battle descriptions slightly lacking in The Adamantine Palace, they were pretty much right on target in this book. The reader gets a good look at what war in the Dragon Realms really means. There was also the appearance of The King of the Crags himself, as would be expected from the title. I thought he’d be there more but if I discuss this further I’ll probably start giving away some spoilers…
Overall, a very strong sequel and one of the best second entries in a trilogy I’ve had the chance to read. The King of the Crags has made me indescribably anxious for the conclusion to this magnificent series. This is a read I’d recommend for those that have already read The Adamantine Palace. For those dragon and fantasy lovers that haven’t begun Deas’s trilogy: you should really get to it, both books are very much worth it. In the final paragraph of my Adamantine Palace review I said that The Adamantine Palace was not top notch…well…forget that. It might have been on its own but with The King of the Crags as its sequel it now certainly falls into that category.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reading Age: 15 and up
Violence: Tons of dragon-fighting-heavy scenes, talk of torture
Sex/Language: Less sex than in the first book but more language
Stephan Deas's website: http://www.stephendeas.com/
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