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Book Review

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The Walking Fire (Hardback)


Author: Anthony Ryan
Publisher: Orbit
RRP: £18.99
ISBN: 978 0 356 50369 5
Publication Date: 07 July 2016

The Waking Fire (2016. 579 pages) is the first book of the new fantasy series, The Draconis Memoria, written by Anthony Ryan. The story is told from three main character perspectives: Clay, Lizanne and Hilemore. For this series Ryan has created a new land for his characters, though for the purpose of the story only a detailed map of the continent of Arradsia is provided, as this is where the bulk of the story takes place. There are other continents which are mentioned in the story for which only an outline map is provided.

Ryan has created a world where corporations have, for the most part, taken the place of kingdoms in most lands, to hold or wield power you must become a shareholder. The technology is based on dragons, not actually using them, but using their blood which can be ingested by special humans who can then manifest extraordinary abilities. There are a number of different species of dragon and the blood of each creates different abilities. Green adds superhuman speed and power; Red allows the creation of dragon fire and Black gives strength. Blue is different in that it allows communication over a great distance via a trance.

The world has evolved to take advantages of these abilities, especially Red, which powers many of the machines. Humans have learned to breed and tame the various dragons, but domestication is bringing diminishing returns and without some change eventually the dragons will die out taking civilisation with them.

There is one hope, a myth about a white dragon, which may have the potency to change the direction of the decline. Lizanne belongs to a special group of women, not unlike the Bene Gesserit who use their special abilities mostly in espionage. Her order recruits Clay and his family to travel into the unknown interior of Arradsia to try and discover if the white even exists and, if possible, rescue on of their number who they believe has survived an attack which killed her whole party, but not before she ran, supposedly with an intact white egg.

The world building and character studies are the two great aspects of the book. Ryan also includes Hilemore, who is a serving officer on a distinctly Victorian paddle war ship and the book provides numerous sea battles, both involving pirates as well as wild dragons.

Claydon Torcreek is what they call blood-blessed, he can use the dragon blood - not everybody can - and for most ingestion of dragon blood means a painful death. Most can only use a single type of blood, Clay can use all, which is one of the reasons he is blackmailed into joining the expedition to find the white. All of the three main characters fortunes are tied up with the quest.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Clay and Lizanne pretty much take centre stage as far as finding or not finding a White; however Ryan does not make Hilemore play catch-up as he is provided with some of the better action sequences.


Charles Packer

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