Kings and Queens from the Dragon Realms are eligible every 10 years to become the unquestioned overseers of all the lands. The 10th year has come and many parties are vying for the seat of power whether it is through political machinations, coercive means, or down-right ruthlessness. And let us not forget the dragons who are more monstrous than nearly any other dragon you've read about before.
The Adamantine Palace is Stephen Deas's debut novel and what a rending and smoking debut it is at times. The first chapter sets a dark and compelling tone and never lightens from there with some of the meanest dragons and wicked characters found in Fantasy. If Christopher Paolini decided to go on a meth-fueled writing bender he probably still wouldn't come close to writing his dragons so devilishly.
There are a few problems, but pacing isn't one of them as he keeps to short, tight chapters that push the story along in a Thriller type fashion. However, the pushing is at a sacrifice to the characters and the world-building. The human characters come off very cold and more lizard-like than the Dragons as they can't seem to keep themselves from sleeping with one another or from trying to kill each other at every turn. While the dragons are oppressed creatures who have been held down too long and are after vengeance for what has been done to them and their peers.
Many of the characters just seem like slight variations on one another, especially when viewed from one generation to the next. Also, the motivations of many of the characters are cloudy at best with them seeming to do just what is unexpected to spite people. In some ways the rest of the book doesn't live up to that first chapter, but things take a turn for the better at the end where Deas has pulled off a jaw dropper after setting so much up to go another way.
The Adamantine Palace shows a lot of promise and sets the ground for what could be a memorable series, but doesn't standout from it's predecessors under the name of gritty fantasy published over the last few years. If you are a big dragon fan you may want to pick it up as Deas does give the dragons a fairly original treatment, but I have a feeling there are better things to come from them in future volumes. I give The Adamantine Palace 6.5 out of 10 hats. I'll definitely be checking out the second book in The Memory of Flames series, The King of Crags once it is released in the states to see if Deas brings much needed detail to the world and characters.
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