A review of Dragonmage from Big_Cheddars
Well, I recently bought four more BL books, and this is the only one I have finished so far.
Dragonmage is another novella celebrating the release of Storm of Magic, it was released last year as a limited paper book but the ebook is still online and so i downloaded that. I'll start by saying that for a novella, the ebook is pretty good value at £2.50, but it's not all about price.
Dragonmage is a novella, and I would say about a little bit longer than the other SoM novella I have read: The hour of Shadows. Although this doesn't make a lot of sense as the paperback versions have the same amount of pages. However, Dragonmage doesn't feel nearly as rushed as its companion, and while the story moves quickly, as it should with a short word count, there is still decent characterisation and plot.
The plot of Dragonmage is centred around two contestants to the Phoenix King's throne, Valaris and Rathien. Both are High Elf lords and the story starts properly with a battle between them, after a cryptic and disconcerting prologue which doesn't make a lot of sense until quite far in. The lords go their separate ways after the battle and both learn of an arcane fulcrum, and try to reach it. Upon reflection, I think there is a plot hole in that Rathien is never actually told about the fulcrum, he just goes there anyway by some mystical knowledge. Correct me if I'm wrong, please. The plot flowed well, and the ending was well-written and interesting. Clue's in the title as to who's involved in the final battle, and it was very good for a novella of this length.
The characters of Dragonmage were interesting and varied: The elf lords were both strong characters, and so was the elf mage who assists Valaris. My personal favourite was the long-suffering Haerwal, second-in-command of Lord Rathien, and his stoic pragmatism. While there was definitely more characterisation in Dragonmage than THoS, there was still a sense that a full novel would have created a better book all-round.
Dragonmage was good, that is not in question. However, the problem I have with it and THoS is that they are't long enough for their stories. It wasn't as bad in Dragonmage, but the story was still too long for the book, and an extra few chapters dedicated to characterisation, or even spreading out the battle scenes to give them more complexity, would have vastly improved the book.
I'm looking forward to the last SoM novella, Razumov's Tomb, but I expect I will find the same niggling problem. However, that is just my suggestion and I hope that in future if BL releases any more novels to accompany new codices or game expansions they will be proper, full novels. As an example: Hammer and Anvil (which I am reading now and loving!) was released to coincide with the new SoB codex and to get a glimpse at the upcoming necron update last year, and it is fricking awesome.
Overall, Dragonmage is a well-paced novel(la) chronicling an interesting set of events that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I would give it a 7/10.
Oh and a special mention should probably go to the SoM beast that was in Dragonmage: A chimera, it was brilliantly written, and one of the best scenes in the book. Chris Wraight can be proud of that.
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