The Adamantine Palace review

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Adamantine Palace is the first book of a dragon-based trilogy. This is also Stephen Deas first novel.

I think that going with dragons is risky stuff. I love them but they have been over used and sadly, often badly used. Although this book is based on dragons, there's really more under the scales (sorry for the bad pun!). But, I think you have to like dragons to like this. I enjoyed the ride (I can't stop!). By the way, I think that the best description of this book is the quote from Joe Abercrombie on the print I have : "A fast, sharp, ruthless read".

The Adamantine Palace is home to the Speaker. He is the ruling head of the Dragon Kings. But soon, the Speaker will have to step down. The princes, queens and kings will plot, murder and betray to get their say. One of them, Jehal is merciless. His new stepmother, Queen Sheriza lost her wedding gift, a perfect white dragon. The problem is that the dragon, without the care of the alchemists, will recover his natural state, dangerously intelligent and powerful. The dragon will want her revenge with the help of a sell-sword with nothing to lose.

The pace of this book is something. As Joe said, it's fast. The chapters are usually really really short. I think that with this way of writing, it's more difficult to pull us in in the beginning. However, this fits well with the kind of story Stephen has given us. There's action, political intrigue, sex/lust and dragon destruction. It's a little bit classic in some storylines but there's a couple of twists.

Some of the characters are well developed. Jehal the ambitious prince and Kemir and Sollos the sell-swords are enjoyable. With the narrative set with multiple PoV and the short chapters, I think Stephen can't elaborate on many of them. One problem I had with this is the PoV switch was that there's a little bit too much of it. Sometimes, he should have stayed with the ones we knew already instead of going with new ones for only a chapter. One of the most important character is the white dragon, Snow. She's interesting, but I would have liked to read more about her background by the way of the dreams she have when she "wakes up".

At the beginning of each "sections" of the book, there's a short backstory about the dragon breeding. This adds an interesting layer to the world-building. I think the author should have put more of these.

Magic, other than the dragons, is not an important part of the book. There's some blood-mages and spying devices but it's not greatly evolved or developed. The story doesn't need more for now.

As I said, there's more than dragons even if in the end they are the core of the story. It's not a breakthrough novel but I will certainly read the next one.

Technically, the Gollancz print cover is very beautiful. It's not kick ass stuff but it looks exquisite. On the negative side, there's no map but the family trees of the Dragon kings is a nice addition.

Characterization............. 7.5 /10
World building............... 7 / 10
Magic system................. 7 / 10
Story.............................. 7.5 / 10
Writing........................... 7.5 / 10

Overall (not an average) 7.5 / 10


Stephen Deas page


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