My Rating- 5 meows cause it’s as good as catnip!
Genre- Fantasy, Action, Adventure
Blurb- With the death of Kulshedra, Dragon of Truth, it has been revealed that Scar, the mercenary, is in fact Sarkany, the Dragon Slayer, a creature fashioned for the sole purpose of purging the Dragons from the world of Tiamhaal, yet such a thing is not so simple. Kings and queens yet war amongst one another. They, too, lie, connive, and coerce, and so, Scar and his friends must find a way to persuade those few, benevolent rulers to band together. In the midst of peace talks and dead Dragons, those still in the worship of the beasts grow more powerful. Some of them even doubly praise their oppressor in an effort to wield more magic. Now, united with his friends, Scar sets his gaze upon a hopeful horizon, but is strength in numbers sufficient to keep the Dragons from completing their machinations?
In one short word. WOW!
So, either stop reading right now, and go get Gods and Dragons, the first book in the Dragon of Time fantasy series, or be forever spoiled as I have to cover some events from Gods and Dragons to review the sequel, Dragon Slayer.
Schneriously! Don’t read any further! SPOILER ALERT! HISS!!! ^..^
Scar, or Sarkany, the Dragon Slayer, has been created as an extension of Eternus the Dragon of Time, a real or true Dragon, and basically, the existence of all there is, so Scar is like the avatar of Eternus, and he has been tasked with purging the Dragons from Tiamhaal in this one particular reality.
Dragon Slayer begins with Scar taking his vengeance on Zoltek, king of the Zmajans, and after killing him, he takes his Dragon gem, goes into the realm of Zmaj, the Dragon of Destruction, and kills him to take his soul. Scar is the only being who can venture into the Dragons’ realms and take their souls, and he is more than glad to do this, because everything he ever wanted in a normal life has been taken from him in part by the Dragons, in part by the people who unknowingly worship Dragons, and in part by the real Gods.
After leaving the country of Usaj, Scar runs into an old friend, Shrikal, the paladin of perseverance, and together, they journey towards Alduheim, where Scar is supposed to meet up with N’Giwah and Labolas in order to figure out how to tackle the next Dragon.
See, the thing is, that killing the Dragons reduces the magic power that worshippers have. Like, when Scar killed Kulshedra, the people lost their markings of Kulshedra, and they lost the ability to make their armor stronger. The Zmajans lost their colors, and they lost the power to make their weapons into machines, so since the countries are at war, Scar can’t wantonly kill the Dragons because people will suffer until all the Dragons are killed, but things just aren’t so simple, and man is this a good “tail.”
Basically, it becomes important to figure out which kings and queens are willing to give up their Dragon gems without a fight. It’s also important to know which Dragon to kill and when because otherwise an evil ruler might still have their magic and kill good guys. On top of that, Scar, Labolas, and N’Giwah are trying to help the rulers forge alliances and convince them that they are worshipping Dragons. Some people still think they’re worshipping Gods.
Like I said, this is cray cray!
If all the intrigue, action, espionage, and magic wasn’t enough, two things seems to be happening. One, Scar seems to be growing weaker, or perhaps becoming human…? I’m just mew-sing on that one. Two, he thinks he’s found a way to revive his lover from Gods and Dragons, Ylithia, the former paladin of severity by striking some deals with other rulers.
I’m not going to spoil Dragon Slayer for you. This is a must read. This is a fantasy series going somewhere no other fantasy series has gone. I think I may be more excited to read the next Dragon of Time than I am to read the next Lokians book.
All I can say, and I say this honestly, is that Dennis is an unparalleled writer. The Dragon of Time series will stand the test of time.
Now, I chose a particular excerpt because it shows just how different the world of Tiamhaal can be. Since this fantasy doesn’t have dwarves or elves, it has different people and different cultures, but they seem to be mostly rooted in actual cultures.
Like, I don’t know what the Zmajans or Kulshedrans are supposed to be, but it seems the Fafnirians are Roman, the Dracos are Celtic, the Tiamatish are African, The Slibinish are Scandinavian, the Mireuans, and Nagish are some kind of Asian, maybe Japanese? There are many more, and in the excerpt you’ll get to read about Scultonians, which…I don’t know what they are, but they are my favorite. Enjoy!
Excerpt- Last alert for spoilers! You will learn about one of the characters from Gods and Dragons if you keep reading!!! ^..^
Castle Way led to an immense bridge comprised of bone pillars protruding from a tributary that spilled out to the sea. Patrolmen wearing bone armor and skull helmets stood guard before the spanning structure, but dozens of citizens walked freely on and off the bridge. Though everyone gave Scar a glance of wonder, no one stopped him from crossing towards the monstrous castle in the distance.
Passing the inhabitants of Acrypha, Scar noticed only those not of Scultonian heritage wore masks for protection. Whoever the various tribesmen were, they wore fine clothes, or shiny armor, and they all moved with a regal bearing. Safe to assume these are delegates from other countries. Someone who looked either Fafnirian or Kulshedran—with the face cloths it was impossible to distinguish—walked by, giving Scar a nod. Then, he saw a tall figure coming towards him; a person wearing black armor and crowned helmet, an obvious Paladin of Severity. The person stopped suddenly.
Scar rolled his shoulders, wondering if a fight was in the making, but he kept stride, walked beyond the paladin, who turned to watch the Dragon Slayer go by, and skirted the rail to avoid knocking over a family of Tiamatish. He then watched the figure move on. Continuing towards the castle as the environment grew darker and the flames of torches along the bridge burned brighter, the warrior finally stepped off the bony platform to inspect two rows of guards.
The formations maintained two lines some fifty feet apart, and while their morbid gear gave them a terrifying appearance, their short spears were strapped to their backs. The soldiers guarded the only entrance into the castle, at least, the only entrance Scar saw from his position, an entrance built of a stony arch with a cobbled walkway that led to a raised, bone portcullis. Behind the archway, three, spindly towers reached towards the cloudy sky. While it was night, no stars or moon broke the veil of the death wind swirling overhead, but several torches lit the way, and Scar walked beneath the archway; soldiers atop a bridge between parapets marched unenthusiastically.
The cobbled street led to another entry, one that was crafted to resemble the large, menacing maw of some unknown beast, something like a goat skull without horns. Flames burned from its eye holes, and more guards stood on either side. A strange man wearing a gray tunic and a red sash eyed the warrior. He was leaning inconspicuously against the outer wall, but when they made eye contact, the man eased away from the stonework, stuffed his hands in the pockets of his trousers, and slinked away, out of sight. Squinting, Scar grew curious; the man had been dressed like the people who attacked him in Eltanrof, like the people he saw in Budai. Turning around to see if anyone else had paid attention to the stranger, the bladesman saw only inanimate soldiers; they were like statues, so he wandered off in the direction the man had gone, but found himself corralled by parapets and a high wall.
He clicked his tongue, popped his thumbs, wondered to where the man had vanished, and then made back for the way into the castle. The foyer was an extensive room if bland. Scultonians weren’t much for fancy décor, apart from the numerous, scary skulls crafted into the walls, but their opened mouths held flames, which provided an eerie, malevolent glow throughout the castle. Servants and guards wandered through—some of them sweeping or dusting the grime prevalent in Balroa—so Scar sauntered towards a closed door at the far end of the room. A thin, Scultonian woman wearing a shiny, black, silk robe smiled once he drew close.
“Greetings, warrior,” she said.
“Well met. I am hoping to arrange a meeting with your king. I am Scar, a friend of Balroa.”
“I know who you are. One has vouched for your honor.”
“Oh?” Scar wondered if she meant Borta; he was the only Scultonian Scar knew, apart from Munah, who was no longer a Scultonian nor living.
“Come.” The woman opened the door and motioned with her hand.
The two walked down a purple carpet through the donjon. Many stairwells on both sides of the room led up through a vaulted ceiling, and many more led down into the bowels of the island. Soldiers stood around, chatting with one another. Often, they gave Scar a nod; the castle was at ease.
The carpet ended before seven steps, which led to immense, open doors. The throne room lay beyond the doors, and numerous servants rushed by; they were coming and going from other rooms. The warrior tried to get a peak at what they were doing, where they were going, and saw a kitchen, a dining room, and more stairwells. Finally, they both stopped in front of two chairs. They were unremarkable excepting the fact that they were crafted from bone, and each was cushioned with purple silk. Scar turned to the woman with an expectant look.
Nodding politely, she said, “Wait a moment. Verouvir will want to speak to you.”
Rather than asking after the mysterious name or word, Scar watched the woman traipse up a set of stairs. Taking a deep breath, he glanced at those walking by and gave a nod or smile. Minutes later, as he shifted his balance to and fro, a Scultonian wearing a suit of bone and steel plate approached. The armor was inlaid with golden quilling, and so beautiful, Scar failed to notice the man wearing it.
“Good to see you again,” the man said in a gravelly tone.
“Borta! It is you,” Scar chuckled as he noticed the patterns of blue on his friend’s face.
“Yes…but that is not my real name, you see? I am Verouvir Akalabash. Sirokai is my brother. I am the Prince of Balroa.”
The two clasped wrists. Scar remained slack-jawed after letting go. Borta smiled briefly.
“Why the mystery,” Scar inquired.
“I could not have let on that I was the prince; Gilgamesh would’ve grown suspicious and relations between our countries would surely have a suffered a blow, yet I needed a way to enter Alduheim, and so my brother claimed I was his foremost scholar and sent me to Satrone.”
“Gilgamesh is dead now,” Scar said, looking away. “Much has happened since those days at the old castle…I have learned of my origins, and I have come here for two reasons.”
“Yes…first and foremost, I wanted to speak to your brother to hear his take on current events. You see, with the deaths of Gilgamesh and Zoltek, and the deaths of their Dragon Lords, the Kulshedrans and Zmajans are no longer killing each other; they are working for peace, well…at least the Kulshedrans are, but that brings us to a meeting I had with Sahni. She and Sirokai are still amicable,” Scar asked. Borta nodded, so he continued. “Good. She asked me to kill Donovan to end the fighting between Sudai and Eltanrof, and to provide her with the alliances she needs to keep her borders safe. On top of that, Labolas and N’Giwah enticed Jagongo and Longinus to forge an alliance with Sahni; the entire strategy was to secure peace across the southeastern countries, which is wonderful, but I had my own agenda—to kill all of the Dragons, thus providing balance across the world.”
“Killing the Dragons has had the opposite effect, though.”
Scar nodded, miserably. He glanced at some of the passersby; they didn’t appear to be eavesdropping, and Borta wasn’t concerned anyway, though he was frowning.
“Yes…to some extent; it looks as though killing one Dragon empowers the people following the others. No doubt, you’ve noticed that.”
“At any rate, I’m hoping your brother is willing to hand over the gem he uses to communicate with Scultone. When we were in Alduheim, and I spoke of gems used to commune with Dragons, you claimed no knowledge of the fact,” Scar said, eyeing his friend.
“I was not aware that the gem in question was the gem lodged in Skullcrusher until recently.”
“A sacred hammer passed down to the eldest son. We believe it to be an ancient relic used to defeat the Dragons. Now we are aware it is far more than that.”
“Hmm,” Scar mused and pursed his lips. “You know…it seems that every gem has been lodged inside a weapon or piece of armor. I wonder if those were all artifacts used in the wars. Do you recall in Alduheim the man who killed Drac?”
“The warrior with the lance?”
“Yes. There, he placed a red gem inside it, and as you can see,” Scar said, turning to show the sword on his back, “they all fit within my blade. It has thirteen holes; one for each gem.”
“So, you require all of the gems?”
“They are instrumental in killing the Dragons. I recently killed Gyo and Zmaj, and like when I killed Kulshedra, their souls entered the gem…besides, placing the gem inside my blade brings me to the Dragon’s realm.”
“Interesting, but,” Borta trailed off. Scar gauged him; he looked pensive. “If the gems hold the Dragons’ souls then how have they returned to influence men? When Drac died at Alduheim, did not his soul enter the gem?”
Scar’s face twitched in shock and wonder. “An appropriate question. I am unsure, but I do not recall Drac disintegrating when the soldier killed him.”
“The Dragons have disintegrated when you killed them,” Borta asked; a wave of uncertainty flashed across his brow. Scar nodded. “Fascinating. There is so much we do not know….”
“Truth, but I was wishing to discuss these matters with Sirokai; I am glad to be talking with you instead, as you have seen the irrefutable proof.”
“Indeed, so tell me more of your plans.”
Scar explained what had happened on the way to Eltanrof. He also added that he was unable to find Drac’s gem, but clarified Artimis’s claims of the Eltanrof hierarchy. He ended his explanation, stating that he had come to ask for Scultone’s gem without bloodshed, and finally explained that he was the Dragon Slayer, a creature forged only to bring peace to the world.
“And if we cannot hand it to you,” Borta asked after a brooding moment.
“I have no wish to kill anyone. Neither you nor your brother have done me wrong. Your country has not attacked anyone. I am only asking for the gem.”
“If you kill Scultone, we will lose our blessing, and the other countries will grow stronger.”
“Yes…and I had hoped Drac would be dead and the Dracos powerless by now, but I have failed to deliver, and I will not subject your people to harm, but I must have that gem,” Scar heaved. “However, I do not wish to receive it at this time….” Borta arched a brow. “I said there were two reasons I came here…you certainly recall the Paladin of Mekosh, Ylithia?”
“Word was you two were in love, but Kulshedrans killed her.”
“Yes…and that’s why I killed Gilgamesh, but someone suggested I might ask Sahni to bring her back to life; I yet hold Kulshedra’s gem, and as we know, the souls of those defeated by worshippers of a Dragon go to that Dragon; Kulshedra has her soul, but I have his, and so we wondered if she could be returned, but the rana said she was unable to help…she then suggested a man named Kiechiv.”
Borta’s ears twitched. Frowning, he took a long inhalation. He then paced.
“You know of this man,” Scar pried.
“They say his power rivals that of my brother; he is perhaps the most talented necromancer, but he is a madman…a twisted man. When my grandfather ruled, he banished Kiechiv from the castle; this was, oh, nearly eighty years ago. I don’t even know if Kiechiv lives, but if he does, there is only one place he will be.”
“There is an islet off the eastern coast. He used to live there.”
“I must see him,” Scar said and placed a hand on Borta’s shoulder.
Nodding, Borta returned a sad smile. “I cannot imagine the death of a lover, and I have some questions that man might answer as well, if he lives…I will take you to him.”
“Yes, but we must leave immediately. No one must know I have gone to see him, lest I arouse suspicions. I’ll spread word that I have taken you to the shrine of death; it is an old mausoleum said to bless those who unwaveringly worship Scultone; nonsense if you ask me, but it won’t raise doubts.”
“And what of your brother?”
“Leave Sirokai to me,” Borta sighed. “You there,” he called to a servant. “See Scar to the kitchen and prepare him food and drink.”
The Scultonian nodded and took Scar to the kitchen. While a special meal of fried shark was prepared, the warrior sat at a table in the adjoining dining room. He then ate and drank to his heart’s content. A while later, Borta returned to give a simple motion of the head.
He took them through a tower and out of the castle. By the light of torches, they walked to a short dock etched from a flattened and smoothed boulder. Three, small ships were tied to the stone. The Scultonian climbed into one and Scar followed. Without saying a word, the prince undid the ropes, took a paddle, handed one to Scar, and they started away.
Though the winds were gusty and the sea was choppy, their boat was comprised of long pieces of wood, which were nailed over one another, thus when one board twisted, the others compensated. Scar praised the craftsmanship.
“It is a Slibinish design. They have vessels called dragon ships….”
“From where does this wood come? Are there trees here?”
“There are some,” Borta replied. Once they were a ways out from the castle, the prince stood to unfurl a sail. It was reinforced by a network of ropes. “The trees here are wispy things, but we have been trading with Eltanrof for ages; they provide us timber and soil, and we provide them steel.”
“I see….” As Borta struggled with the tiller, the winds flurried. Debris sprayed the men as did the sea. Squinting, Scar tried to guess where they were going, but through the darkness, he saw nothing, so he turned to his friend. “Do you see in the dark?”
“To some extent,” Borta sighed. “Only the Tiamatish truly see in the dark, but Scultonians and Bollans aren’t as hindered as the rest of the tribes.”
“How long will we be at sea?”
“We won’t truly be at sea. I’ll just skirt the shore then sail around the rocks. We’ll arrive by morning. In the meantime, I’d like to know about the Gods.”
“What about them?”
“Have you not had more contact with them?”
Scar wracked his brain, trying to remember if he had told Borta of his meeting with Silwen. He thought that he did, that perhaps, back at Alduheim sometime after witnessing the memory of Dragons, he and N’Giwah had openly spoke of it, but he wasn’t sure.
“There is not much to say,” Scar finally replied. “Apart from speaking to Silwen, I have no direct contact with them, but recently I prayed…I saved a child from a burning home, and the Gods sent rain to keep us safe, but which God? I do not know….”
“What of the Dragons?”
“The dead ones…what did they look like?”
“Oh…well…Kulshedra was a great, misty beast—hard to explain, really. It was just, I don’t know, swirls of mist that resembled scales. Zmaj was like a bunch of serpents all intertwined, and Gyo was an immense snake, but he had legs, like animal legs, and his face was sort of like a lion, but longer.”
“How strange…I wonder what Scultone looks like,” Borta breathed.
Scar shrugged. The darkness was unnerving. Nothing more was said for hours. The squeaks of the vessel coupled with gusts of wind and sloshes of waves drowned away even thoughts. The warrior closed his eye and rubbed it with the heel of his hand before wiping some grime from it. After an hour or so, the wind carried the sound of chatter and laughter; they were not too far from the docks, and Scar made out the shapes of vessels. Tiny spheres of torchlight glowed through the opaque darkness of the death wind.