Dragon Dreams by Dusty Lynn Holloway
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Dragon Dreams, the first in the Chronicles of Shadow and light, starts with one of the best opening prologues I have ever read. "In my shadow you sleep, hungry for my soul. In my heart you live, nurtured and at peace. In my life you belong, always. The red dawn of war clashes with the tide ..." Throughout the book the prose is rich and lyrical, yet the pace never flags. The tone is overwhelmingly dark, a world at the edge of ruin due to an escalating war between two powerful dragons, yet there are moments of light-heartedness and beauty amidst the fires.
Author Dusty Holloway has done a fine job of taking a fresh perspective on the Elves, Dwarves, Humans and Dragons of classic fantasy, and while there is a nod to old tropes, what is presented is fresh and well thought-out, each race characterised well, the Elves for example powerful and mysterious and very different to the Humans. The world-building is tightly woven into the story and never overwhelming or dry.
The main characters are the Human Nachal and the half-Elf Auri. The story concentrates strongly on the two of them, with minor riffs played by the Dwarf Dhurmic (who breaks his friend Nachal's nose at one point) and the Elf Watcher Liran, who has a decidedly unhealthy interest in Auri and plays the third point of a love triangle between him, Auri and Nachal. I am not big on love triangles, I have to admit, but this one was very well written. If I had any gripes, it was that I felt Auri came across a little weak - I would have preferred a heroine less at the mercy/sway of events and personalities around her and more in charge of her own destiny. However that destiny is complex and confusing to her, and the plot pleasingly complex enough to make their characters intriguing. I disagree completely with some reviewers saying that Auri is 'undefined'. Partly, that's the point. She's only twenty-one in this first part of the series, she's discovering who she is, and mighty forces of inheritance and destiny are coming to bear on her life. She has two very different men vying for her attention and the fate of the world resting on her shoulders. All in a day's work, eh?
All in all, this is a wonderful lead-in to series with great promise. A writer to watch!
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