Tag Archives: dragons

A Simple Task

Title: A Simple Task

Author: James Galloway

No particular series, but set after Pyrosian Chronicles #3

Tarrin’s work for the God of Gods has put him into an interesting situation. He’s tasked to stop a war, and without using his preferred method of wanton destruction to both sides. Since subtlty isn’t his strong suit, he ropes Miranda and a few others into the scheme to make a boy a king worthy of his crown, stop a war, and preserve the Balance of the multiverse.

As a “short” story (still the length of a long novel), this is an interesting addition to the canon. I actually hadn’t been aware of this until my recent reread through the main series, so I was very happy to find a bonus story to cap everything off.

This is set several years after Demon’s Bane, so it does help to have read the Firestaff series and the Pyrosian Chronicles first. Amazingly, it manages to introduce even more different types of magic (psyonics/will, which was very briefly mentioned in previous books but gets a fuller treatment here, plus some of the tricks Tarrin has picked up that he insists aren’t magic but certainly behave that way).

I like that we do get several returning characters, although I wish Haley got a bigger role. But the returning characters also hamper the story a bit, as the characters from the new world tend to take a back seat to the ones imported to help Tarrin with his job.

I also found it fun how much of Polin’s education centers around teaching him that even though he’s the king, he doesn’t have the power to fix everything, and he shouldn’t try. That no matter what he does, people will still suffer, but his job is to do what he can where he can so he can be a good king.

Overall, this is more of an optional extra for those who liked the main series. It serves to answer a few lingering questions (Telven, Haley, and what’s up with Tarrin’s alter-ego on Pyrosia), and provides a bit of fun in a new place, but doesn’t impact the characters or the world too heavily. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

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Demon’s Bane (Pyrosian Chronicles #3)

Title: Demon’s Bane

Author: James Galloway

Series: Pyrosian Chronicles #3

Pyrosia is in trouble. Tarrin is dead, a Demon Lord is on the loose, and the pieces of Tarrin’s sword–which still contain all the power of a god–have been scattered across the world. The situation is grim for the defenders. They’ve put everything on the line, but without Tarrin, is it going to be enough? Meanwhile, Tarrin has used the destruction of his body to launch his soul into the Crossroads, a place where he can continue his hunt for the One. The single rule of the Crossroads is “Do no violence.” But Tarrin has never been inclined to follow the rules . . .

It’s interesting to me how basically every book in this series manages to introduce so many new things. In this case, the big addition is the other planes Tarrin traverses in his search for the One’s home domain. In those places, the rules can be very different, and Tarrin only has a few tricks and no friends.

Although the Goddess does send Jula and Tsukatta to attempt to head him off.

Also fun is that Demon’s Bane (aka Bane) proves to be very much like Val’s shadow in that it can evolve as it grows. The problem is, it either doesn’t or can’t talk, so nobody on either side has any idea what it’s up to, because it’s not indiscriminately slaughtering demons the way everyone expected.

There’s also a rather massive war—which, ironically enough, isn’t actually the point (although if the Demons win, it would certainly make Tarrin’s plans more difficult). So there’s plenty of large-scale action as Pyrosia’s version of the Blood War plays out.

I love the surprise near the end, too, with how the situation in Pyrosia works out. Seeing Triana and Haley’s reactions in particular cracks me up. Poor Triana can handle just about everything except Tarrin, because he surprises everyone, even himself.

Overall, this is an excellent finish to the trilogy, and properly caps off the saga of the Firestaff. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

See my reviews and more at https://offtheshelfreviews.wordpress.com/

Sword of Fire (Pyrosian Chronicles #2)

Title: Sword of Fire

Author: James Galloway

Series: Pyrosian Chronicles #2

Tarrin has one simple mission: find out what happened to the Dwarves and Sorcerers that entered Pyrosia a few thousand years earlier to escape the Blood War. And now that’s become a more urgent mission to find Kimmie and Phandlebrass, who escaped an avalanche and entered that world almost a month ago. But the more they explore Pyrosia, the more they realize something is very wrong. The local Younger god is consorting with demons, the Elder god has abandoned his responsibilities, and Kimmie’s trail is going in worrying directions . . .

This book is so much fun. Tarrin reacts about as well as could be expected to a culture built on oppression, and besides leaving a rather messy trail carved through the countryside, ends up caring for a few children that caught his attention. Eventually he takes personal affront to the One and continues to escalate their spats.

And behind all the action is the question of just how much of his power as a god has followed him back to his mortal life, and what that’s going to mean for him going forward. The majority of the gods on Sennadar are overjoyed he left and don’t want him to come back, which is causing all sorts of problems as his Goddess tries to stand up for him.

But soon what Tarrin wants becomes secondary to what has to be done. And since it’s indirectly his fault, he feels responsible to fix it.

It’s hard to say everything I’d like to say about this book because most of that would spoil something good. This is another great adventure, with crazy fights, spectacular magic, and clever twists. Highly Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

Axe of the Dwarven King (Pyrosian Chronicles #1)

Title: Axe of the Dwarven King

Author: James Galloway

Series: Pyrosian Chronicles #1 (sequel series to Firestaff)

The threat of the Firestaff has been neutralized for another 5000 years, and Tarrin is more than ready to settle into the “happily ever after” the Goddess promised him. He has his house, his mates, his children, his friends. And those friends are getting married and having children, too. Triana wants to train him as a Druid, and Tarrin wants to dig deeper into the lost race of the Dwarves. But Tarrin can never forget what he did to defeat Val, not entirely. Not when the gods are still skittish of him, and some of them think it would be better if he hadn’t come back. And when an unexpected confrontation turns ugly, the past resurfaces in ways no one expected . . .

This is an unusual book in that the majority of it is basically an extended epilogue to the Firestaff series. Triana’s been threatening Tarrin with Druidic training for a while, and she finally has an opportunity to make good on that. Everyone who went back to their own homes is settling into their lives again, which means lots of vacations for babies—but traveling halfway across the world isn’t quite the barrier it used to be now that the spell to teleport has been rediscovered. It’s a good chance to see how the new normal is shaping up.

Of course, “normal” only goes so far when it comes to someone like Tarrin, who still has some interesting echoes from his ten minutes as a god. And when those become too big to ignore, it throws a whole new set of complications into his formerly peaceful life.

I like the extension of the story beyond the bounds of Sennadar. A new world introduces a new set of rules, new opportunities and limitations, and plenty of opportunities for Tarrin to get into mischief.

Overall this might feel slow to get going, due to all the normal life stuff at first, but I enjoyed it, and it sets the stage for another adventure. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

Weavespinner (Firestaff #5)

Title: Weavespinner

Author: James Galloway

Series: Firestaff #5

The Firestaff’s final defense did the unthinkable—Tarrin is once more completely human, and without any memories of the last two years, from the point when he was bitten onwards. And he now HAS the Firestaff, which puts everyone in a double dilemma. How can they protect the Firestaff appropriately without Tarrin’s previous abilities? And now that Tarrin has a choice about whether or not he’ll go back to being a Were-Cat, what will he choose?

This is an excellent cap to the series. Tarrin’s quest has drawn together a diverse group of people, but the problem is that HE’S the one that drew them together, and now that he’s basically a different person, no one knows what to do with him. His personality had been twisted by the Cat, by the abuse he suffered, and by the atrocities he inflicted, but now without any of those staining his soul he’s much more open and friendly. On the other hand, everyone he dearly loved except for his family and the two who came from his village is now just another set of strangers.

The group that stood up to every challenge so far is now disintegrating as their different opinions about what Tarrin needs to do start tearing them apart.

I don’t like Auli. Tarrin’s consistent in his weakness towards beautiful women showing an interest in him, but it is annoying to see how weak his convictions are when a woman comes after him. And she causes a heap of trouble for Tarrin without ever really getting appropriately punished.

After the whole mess with Tarrin’s choice plays out, though, there’s still the issue of the Firestaff. Tarrin knows now when it’s due to activate, and he has a plan . . . but Val’s forces strike and that goes out the window. So Tarrin concocts a new plan to make Val pay. He shows he’s learned the various lessons of his journey very well, and the showdown is an amazing conflict.

Overall this is a great finish to the main arc (there’s a followup series, The Pyrosian Chronicles, which finishes out the story of the Firestaff). It’s shorter than most of the other books but it still has a ton of impact. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

Fire on the Mountain (Mountain Trilogy #2)

Title: Fire on the Mountain

Author: Michelle Isenhoff

Series: Mountain Trilogy #2

Quon knows he’s not cut out for his father’s trade of making carriages, but when an accident with horrific consequences strands him, he has no idea what to do. Taking up the offer of an old man, he agrees to journey and learn . . . and eventually to become a hero. A mighty dragon is terrorizing the villages in the mountains, but Quon is destined to defeat it. Or is he?

This is technically a sequel, although almost everything in this book happens before the first one, so the only difference is readers will walk into this knowing how Quon’s quest has to end. And that makes everything just a little tragic, because Quon’s mistakes and triumphs and growth are ultimately pointed towards a different end than anyone he knows expects.

I like the setting, once again. It’s a fantasy vision of rural, historical China, and Quon lives as many kinds of laborer as he’s working his way towards defeating the dragon. It’s interesting to see how many of his decisions have reverberations throughout his life, and the lives of others.

It’s also nice to see a bit more of Song Wei and what became of him after the end of Song of the Mountain, though it amounts to little more than a good epilogue for his earlier quest.

Overall this could easily be stand alone, even though it will help to have read the first one just to understand more of the very beginning and very end. I rate this book Recommended.

Dragon Defender (Dragon Defense League #1)

Title: Dragon Defender

Author: J.A. Blackburn

Series: Dragon Defense League #1

Peter Clark is not really an adventurous sort—unless you count building robots. But when an uncle he didn’t know about shows up on his twelfth birthday, he learns his mother’s disappearance is connected to an unexpected legacy with dragons. Now he’s running around South America looking for a dragon egg . . .

This was pretty good, although it relied a little too heavily on circumstances being favorable for my tastes. Peter might be an approachable lead, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of skills to offer (the awesome car battery scene aside). He picks up two companions fairly quickly, though. I don’t care much for Xana, whose main contribution appears to be that she’s rich and has parents who don’t care if she runs around in a dangerous place unsupervised. Similarly, Mario is almost a bit too good when his introduction paints him as a kid who has had a very hard life and turned to crime to support himself.

Those are comparatively minor quibbles, though. The dragons are the main point of the book, and those are a lot of fun. I like that there are multiple types, with their own habitats, and in some cases ties to local folklore. And the particular dragon this book is tracking down isn’t exactly typical. Given what ends up happening, I am curious to see how Peter interacts with other dragons in the future.

As might be expected, the first book is in large part setting up a series to come. I am curious to see how the larger story unfolds. It would be nice if the bad guys aren’t so one-dimensional, but given everything else this book was doing there wasn’t a lot of room for that here. I rate this book Recommended.