The Adamantine Palace

The Adamantine PalaceI ll keep this brief as I am waiting for a plane to take off A pretty good read really For easy to follow and the characters are fun for the most part It s like how to train your Dragon for adults.The main character is but if a self centred git, A princess who is a tomboy dragon loving tough girl who you just know is going to end up with the Prince Git Basically Dragons are raised from the egg and given secret potions to keep them docile and subservient But one escapes and goes rogue and begins what will be no doubt a trilogy about Dragon vs Human, but where loyalties and love may be the thing to stop total destruction So yeah, probably predictable, but an easy read all the same. The Adamantine Palace is the prize that one prince seeks and through all manner of realm craft, diabolical planning, love craft, cruelty, potions and poisons he schemes his way throughout the novel to seize his price Meanwhile, Snow, a dragon, which was to be a gift for the prince from Queen Shakiza was attacked by a party of dragonriders and escaped into the wilderness with her Scale, a man charged with watching over her from birth Unknown to both however, the dragons are drugged by the alchemists with a portion that makes them controllable.In the wilderness, without the control of the potion, Snow reverts back to her native intelligence and aggression, and with the aid of a captive mercenary, who also bears a grudge against dragon riders, hatches a plan to destroy the alchemists and free her fellow dragons.The fast paced action as both the dragon and the prince strive to accomplish their goals is straight forward.Do you cheer for the dragon Its a hard call.But you cannot cheer for the Prince, who is a conviver, a womanizer and a murderer.Nonetheless, here is a book as good as its wonderful cover art and well worth reading. I loved this book I adored it.This is the kind of book that I m always searching for A book with awesome badass sentient dragons That s all I need in a book and this one definitely delivers.Thre is definitelypolitics in this novel than action scenes but that is not a bad thing There are very few likeable characters in this book but Stephen Deas has the ability to ensure you do not need to like them to want to read about them In fact I found that the morally corrupt characters were farinteresting to read about that the few characters in this that had a bit of good in them.It may sound a bit clich d but this novel definitely gave off strong Game of Throne vibes It s just Game of Thrones with a LOTfocus on dragons and how that affects them politically So being the dragon fanatic I am this book is basically what I want Game of Thrones to be.The dragons are really fascinating as well Their ability to view spoiler read thoughts hide spoiler How can you love fantasy and not like dragons They re kind of like vampires everybody uses them, everybody who wants to make their mark on the genre tries to come up with a clever new way to use them, and usually they fail, so as a fantasy reader, you re inclined to roll your eyes at any book with a dragon on the cover And yet, dragons are still pretty damn cool, when they re done right The Adamantine Palace is a mediocre effort in the field It s not awful, like anything with Dragonlance in the title, but it s not great, like the first few books in some series that were pretty good until the author descended into hackdom and just started churning them out as reconstituted work product What s McCaffrey s latest, Housecats of Pern The author s description on John Scalzi s Big Idea is what sold it to me The dragons in these books are monsters They re not cute, they re not cuddly, and the only reason anyone gets to ride around on the back of them is because they are forcibly subdued by alchemical potions that are fed to them from birth In fact, these dragons are so dangerous that for even one to break free could spell disaster for pretty much the entire civilisation no prizes for guessing what happens pretty close to page one.So you can, and probably should, read it as a straight epic fantasy with a cast of shady characters and a rampaging dragon that s pretty ticked off about having been kept in a drugged stupor I had no pretensions to anythingthan a story about kick ass dragons that ran on rocket fuel when I set out to write these books but sometimes when you sit down and write, you don t get quite what you asked for.Well, that sounded pretty cool The idea of an escaped dragon being kind of like a missing nuclear warhead, except the nuclear warhead is sentient, and pissed off, appeals to me, and I was in the mood for a story that s rocket fueled adventure, with dragons.Did Deas deliver A little yes, a little no, but mostly not so much.The book is pretty fast paced, as promised There is a lot of action, there is much carnage and burning and dragons eating people, though it stays pretty limited in scope no Reign of Fire level apocalypseyet.The dragons were indeed interesting, or at least, the handful who get free of their drug induced servility were Yup, any sympathy you might have had for the poor beasts who ve been drugged and enslaved as a species and used as riding beasts goes away once it turns out that, freed from their alchemical shackles, they re bloodthirsty predators who will happily burn human civilization to the ground and hunt the survivors like rabbits Okay, if you were an escaped dragon just waking up to the fact that you re an intelligent being who s been turned into a riding animal, you might want a little fiery retribution too, but from what we learn in the book, that s how the dragons treated humans before they were enslaved None of the human characters are particularly interesting or likeable Non nobles in this world are nothing but spear carriers That s how both the nobles and the author treats them Where the humans come on stage, it s mostly just a bunch of scheming, backstabbing nobles playing their reindeer games, and since they re all equally scheming, backstabbing, and non sympathetic, and none of them will do anything different from the others if they wind up on the throne, we don t care who wins The protagonist inasmuch as this book has one , Prince Jehal, is clever, but whenever his cleverness isn t quite enough to make his schemes work, one of his opponents conveniently makes a mistake so that he wins anyway He s an arrogant bastard, but none of his adversaries are any better, and most of them are worse.The action packed parts of the book are a decent read, but the worldbuilding is weak Like so many epic fantasy novels, The Adamantine Palace starts with charts showing the genealogies of all the various royal families, with lofty names like The Queen of Sand and Stone, but all this means is that Queen Shezira lives in a desert There are a bunch of royal families with rival kingdoms, making up an essentially indistinguishable mob of kings, queens, princes, and princesses, all of whom have dragons and dragon knights and castles The one foreign element is the Teitaykei, a bunch of vaguely Oriental traders who come from across the sea, and whom I assume will probably show up again in the next two books of the trilogy, but in this book, they existed solely to hand Prince Jehal a magical plot device.The double and triple crossing is entertaining enough, but I would have likeddragon action Also, Deas uses an amateurish multiple POV writing style throughout the book, shifting from one character to another in each chapter, and focusing on none of them Some of the POV characters end up dying unceremoniously without ever having contributed much to the plot.This is a book that people who still think ADD novels are cool will probably like Anyone else who really likes dragons will probably find it worth reading, but the Great Dragon Novel it is not. It s been many years since I last read a book featuring dragons because for some reason dragons just don t appeal to me now as much as they did when I was younger But after reading The Adamantine Palace I found myself wondering what I might have been missing out on over the years because this books was really fantastic The Adamantine Palace is one of those books that remind me of why I was attracted to fantasy in the first place, though it is rathersophisticated than those fantasy books of my youth.In addition to the engaging writing style, the wonderful world building and the steady pacing which kept me completely hooked all the way through the book, I was particularly impressed by the way the characters are presented The story is told from the perspective of each character so the reader comes to intimately understand and sympathize with each one, even though many of them are enemies of one another.The dragons receive similar treatment as well At first we only view them through the eyes of the humans but eventually we get into the head of the one of the dragons and receive a new perspective of the unfolding events Initially I had felt sympathetic for the plight of the dragons, for their having been drugged and enslaved by humans for the past hundred years, but once it becomes clear what the dragons are like in their natural form I felt my sympathy shift to their human captors There is no black and white in The Adamantine Palace, no clear lines separating villains from heroes, which is part of what makes this story a complex and deeply satisfying read.The only complaint I have is that none of the various story lines are actually resolved by the conclusion of the book and, in fact, the book ends just as events get evenheated This means that you will want to have the sequel, The King of the Crags, close by so that you can immediately delve into it once you finish The Adamantine Palace I certainly wish I had been properly prepared as now I have to wait impatiently for the week, or so, that it will take The King of the Crags to be delivered to my mailbox.I highly recommend The Admantine Palace to all readers of fantasy Even if it has been years since you last read a book about dragons, don t hesitate to give this one a try You will not be disappointed. I have mixed feelings regarding this book While there are a lot of interesting concepts, and it s written well, I really didn t care about any of the characters The book isn t too long, yet it took me awhile to read it, as it really wasn t a page turner There are definitely interesting characters, but none of them are likable, even as villains There also isn t too much of an arcing story, it s basically just a political power struggle Also, there are dragons So, I m really not sure if I want to read the sequel or not, maybe I ll give it a chance if I m desperate to find something to read. I can t tell if this is a compliment or criticism, so I ll just put it out here and let you decide I spent most of this book trying to cast different actors from Game of Thrones to play the characters in this book The similarities are just so glaring not that I m saying The Adamantine Palace is in any way derivative of A Song of Ice and Fire Its world and plot and characters are entirely its own, and Stephen Deas definitely has some interesting ideas cooking here But the overall tenor of the work, from the multiple kings and queens, the dragons, the scheming maester like alchemists, and the use of multiple POVs and tendency for characters to keep killing each other off all of that makes this feel along the same lines of Game of Thrones I feel like this is exactly the kind of book series an opportunistic network that wanted to jump on the Game of Thrones trend might option and then do a terrible job adapting.If you liketraditional high fantasy, this book will appeal As previously mentioned, the book follows nobility in the throes of unceasing intrigue The nobility and their knights ride dragons, kept tame by the potions of the alchemists During The Adamantine Palace, certain nobles conspire with and against each other allegiances shift really fast in the weeks leading up to the election of a new Speaker, who is kind of like the Secretary of the UN, if the Secretary of the UN had a small military force and a massive palace and tortured people So, you know, exactly like the Secretary.I feel like a really awful person I keep saying I want to readtraditional high fantasy, and then I rip into the books for being too traditional and not doing enough to circumvent, subvert, or otherwise play with the tropes of high fantasy Why do I do this to myself Shadow Prowler is another recent example, and although I think I liked The Adamantine Palace better on the whole, I have similar complaints By and large, Deas reaches in the Fantasy Tropes Grab Bag, pulls up a handful of good ones, and puts them to work But one reason I m not a huge fan of uninnovative traditional fantasy is simply because it s lazy With a generation or two of readers raised in this tradition, authors don t have to spell things out They just say, dragon or knight or castle and let us do the rest I get the sense there is a rich and interesting society in this world, but Deas spends very little time explaining it We get vague allusions to wars of succession, etc., but no fulfilling background.Yet it s not as if this book is devoid of exposition There is plenty of it, spread across far too many POVs Indeed, The Adamantine Palace jumps from character to character eventhan Game of Thrones does With each new chapter, I kept thinking, Ugh, not another perspective Don t get me wrong I love, love, love books that show me characters on either side, protagonists and antagonists, perpetrators and victims of schemes, etc That s all well and good But there is a limit, and Deas exceeds it.Worse still, some of the POVs seem utterly unnecessary He introduces a few characters only to unceremoniously kill them off or they disappear, presumably killed after one or two chapters What, exactly, was their point I don t object to the killing of main characters, but the issue here is that they didn t have time to become established as main characters Meanwhile, characters who were previously side characters suddenly get promoted to main characters, and look, do you know how hard it is for me to redraw my Fantasy Character Org Chart for a book every time someone dies I need to stop working in permanent marker.Once the ink is dry, though, and we have a fairly stable cast, what then of the story, the plot, all those intrigues Well, I do love the dragons My only complaint is that Deas drops his bombshell a little too far into the novel I kept reading, because I could see hints along the lines of what he eventually reveals, but he plays it almost a little too coy Still, once we learn the Truth About Dragons and getscenes with the vengeful Snow, the book picks up pace I also love how very few people actually understand the scope of this problem most of the nobility who are even aware of the issue think it s simply a case of a missing or kidnapped dragon This feels very realistic to me insofar as a fantasy book can be realistic , and it s also something that can be difficult for an author to achieve Balancing the need for characters to have imperfect information while also letting the audience in on the joke can be a delicate act, but Deas does it well.Unfortunately, the dragon plot gets sidelined by political machinations that are not as exciting or well thought out as their author might think they are For one, Prince Jehal switches sidesthe narrator of Katy Perry s Hot N Cold , to the point where I don t think even he knows whose side he s on I think he s just an overconfident, scheming psychopath amidst a bunch of overconfident, scheming sociopaths This could have made for a good character study, except that we get treated to one too many chapters in which Jehal cackles over this or that scheme while the narrator explains to us precisely what s going to happen next The same goes for many of the other POV characters wrapped up in this plot I just want to get back to the dragons.Because, at the end of the day, I care about the dragonsthan I do about these people The dragons have my sympathy These kings and queens Not so much Deas gives me little reason to cheer for any of these human characters they re all pretty despicable, and none of them sound like they re going to do a better job running this land than any others It s important to note that we get precious little face time with anyone who isn t nobility, and the one sell sword POV character is on Team Dragons So that tells you a lot about the moral fibre of these rulers right there Machinations in medieval inspired fantasies should be like the medieval machinations that inspired them There s a reason why A Song of Ice and Fire steals so much from the Wars of the Roses While it s true that people changed sides during such conflicts, there was muchgoing on I find such epic conflicts interesting because, when you read about them, you learn about what s at stake, as well as the family politics behind the story That isn t present here There are vague references to a war or two, as I mentioned above, and some allusions to pacts made long ago and that s about it The Adamantine Palace is adrift in its timeline, providing little in the way or weight of history to anchor it.I would really like to recommend this, if only because Deas does some interesting things with dragons But it overreaches, overpromises, and does not end up delivering the depth of politics, characterization, or worldbuilding I m looking for in my high fantasy Am I overly critical and picky Probably But that doesn t make me wrong One Man Wants To Rule The Wealthy Empire He Is Ready To Poison The King As He Did His Father, Murder His Lover And Bed Her Daughter Is He Fit To Be King Unknown To Him, A Dragon Is On The Loose Returned To Full Intelligence And Fury, It Could Wreak Havoc Also, Actions Of An Unscrupulous Mercenary May Loose Hundreds Of Dragons I expected to like this a lot and I was disappointed to find that I didn t I appreciate that redemption may yet come in subsequent books, but none of the characters redeem themselves even a little bit by the end of the first book The bad guy or perhaps the slightly worse guy, since there don t seem to be any good guys wins.The plot, centres around the election of a new Speaker a kind of king of kings who reigns in the Adamantine Palace for a ten year term It should be a foregone conclusion Hyram, the outgoing speaker, is ill and according to an ancient pact Queen Shazira will be his successor, but Prince Jezal whose own father seems to be afflicted with the same illness as Hyram but muchadvanced has other ideas We know he seems to be up to something devious, but the detail of his actual intent is hidden until the end I checked the author s website This is the start of a trilogy but I won t read on, sorry This is not like Joe Abercrombie, whose characters might be a bunch of twisted, evil bastards, but they are ones you can care about. The Adamantine Palace by Stephen DeasPublished by Gollancz, March 2009 ARC copy received 350 pagesISBN 9780575083738Ah, Dragons Otherworldly, yet surprisingly comforting.So here we have a new book from a new writer that is pretty much about a medieval style world with dragons It s probably a little quirky in that the title of the book doesn t really reveal it is about dragons though I suspect the cover will Although the Palace and its many eyries are an important setting for the novel, it s not apparent from that title that the tale is a High Fantasy, with, perhapsthan the Palace, dragons at its centre.What we get here is a rompingly good, character focused tale, with royal families that have clearly taken a leaf out of history In a style reminiscent of George RR Martin s Westeros or perhaps from real life The Borgias, the seven realms are represented here by one of the most rampant, back stabbing, adulterating, self centred and arrogant groups you re likely to read They think nothing of sleeping with one family member and poisoning another In fact, to reflect this, one member of royalty is dealt with in the first five pages of the book.With such a background then it is perhaps no surprise that poisons and potions are a key feature in the book, forthan one reason Not only are some accused of poisoning their elders in the book, others are kept active via a mysterious elixir surreptitiously created by the Alchemists of this tale Further, the Alchemist s key duty is to keep in tow the dragons of this tale Here dragons are a key part of society, used for royal carriage, goods transport, for battle and troop deployment As you might therefore expect, they are ridden by Riders, who are often of a regal persuasion, and looked after by Scales, a nomenclature given to the servants whose close and constant proximity to the dragons from hatching mean that their skin develops a condition which I will describe as terminal eczema The position of dragons in this society is therefore one of domestic servility, though they re not the sort to be found on the fire hearth at home The story mainly deals with the consequences created by the breeding of a flawless white dragon, a major wedding dowry in a piece of political machination often found in royal circles Named Snow, its attempted murder and subsequent escape into the wilderness has consequences for all concerned Snow s escape leads to her growing up without the regular dosage of an alchemist s potion, a circumstance that leads to her awakening , a remembrance of other lives in a time when dragons did not do the bidding of Riders but spent their time destroying humans called Little Ones on a whim and eating, occasions when dragons were not so docile As a result, Snow s subsequent return to the world of humans means that Snow is looking for revenge and revolution It is time for dragons to be free.There are a lot of pleasing qualities with this debut novel Though the tropes are not particularly new, it s very well done The life cycle of a dragon is quite different and suggests some interesting concepts Above all, the book is engaging from the start, with the reader is drawn into the High Fantasy trappings very quickly unrest and power struggles in the monarchy, life amongst the lowlife servant culture is soon to be altered forever and so on and the pages kept turning very quickly after that The structure of the book is in that modern MTV fastcut style, so beloved on our TV screens, where there are 70 short chapters which kept moving from one character to another This kept the ball rolling for me but may annoy some readers as it flits from perspective to perspective These characters are interesting, and their interactions are reminiscent of the political shenanigans of the world of Westeros, though without that world s complexity The human characters unlike those of Pern are devious, manipulative and self centred,reminiscent of Westeros or Joe Abercrombie s First Law series To reflect this, there is swearing and sex here, though not particularly explicit Like many recent tales of this genre, there are heroes and villains, not to mention heroines and villainesses , all with that sense of ambiguity which raises the plot and makes the bookinteresting There s a nice mixture of strong male and female characters to give the book an ambiguous social structure The dialogue between the characters is pleasantly appropriate Having read some recent debuts where the language didn t work for me, this one, on the whole, did The world building is reasonable, though not the greatest strength of the book From the Adamantine Palace itself, a symbol of the High Fantasy opulence inherent in the novel, to the types of dragons bred for use fighting, racing, breeding this is a confident book that belies its author s relatively new publication The dragons are pleasingly un human and their sense of power is quite apparent throughout the book There was much here that reminded me of the character driven novels of Anne McCaffrey s Pern indeed, many dragon devotees will remember a white dragon as a character of importance in a number of McCaffrey s books However, these dragons are not the cosy horse surrogates of Pern, nor the eager to please servants of Novik s Temeraire, though there are broad similarities The dragons of Deas are like rather like other wild creatures angry, defiant, stubborn, vengeful And this book is all the better for it.It is a difficult thing to write a novel that uses many of the icons of High Fantasy and make it enjoyable this is something though that Stephen has done here The book is an entertaining mix of Pern and Westeros, with the knowing characterisation of Abercrombie and the endearment of Novik To be recognised alongside such authors is a real achievement The book is a very nicely put together package that will satisfy many a Fantasy and dragon fan In summary, this is a very well written book that, to my mind, is better characterised than Naomi Novik s Temeraire andenjoyable than Anne McCaffrey srecent Pern series This is traditional style fantasy, but written in a contemporary manner that should attract many new readers As the first of a series clearly shown by its ending , it bodes well for Stephen s future writing career and one that I will forward very much to reading on further October 2008

Stephen Deas is an engineer in the aerospace industry, working on communications and imaging technology in the defence sector He is married with two children and lives near Writtle in Essex Also writes as

❰Reading❯ ➷ The Adamantine Palace Author Stephen Deas –
  • Paperback
  • 369 pages
  • The Adamantine Palace
  • Stephen Deas
  • English
  • 26 August 2017
  • 9780575083745

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