From Publishers Weekly
Watt-Evans (Touched by the Gods, etc.) opens his latest novel with a bang: 11-year-old Arlian's village is destroyed by dragons, and he, the sole survivor, is enslaved by the minions of Lord Dragon. Raised as a mine slave, at 18 Arlian escapes into the arms of the inmates of the House of Carnal Society. When that brothel is burned and its women abducted by Lord Dragon, Arlian's quest for vengeance intensifies. Under the tutelage of a caravan guard named Black, he learns swordsmanship and trading, and gains great wealth. Using the name Lord Obsidian, Arlian pursues both Lord Dragon's minions and the noble owners of the Carnal House, but his hunt is deterred by two shattering discoveries: that vengeance is, after all, distasteful to him; and that his childhood encounter with dragons has made him like his enemiesAnearly immortal, charismatic and eligible to join the ruling Dragon Society. Any reluctance to pursue his vendetta leaves Arlian, however, when he discovers that Lord Dragon is not only a sadist but possibly a traitor to the Dragon Society. Watt-Evans's plot strongly resembles that of The Count of Monte Cristo, but he turns it to his own purposes and produces a thoroughly absorbing tale. His writing is clean of the purple prose that mars so much fantasy, and the book poses many provocative ethical questions about the similarity between the righteous man and the unjust. This novel showcases the understated excellence readers have come to expect from this durable and (too often) underrated author.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
New fantasy from the author of Touched by the Gods (1997), etc. When dragons destroy the village of Obsidian on the Smoking Mountain, young Arlian is the sole survivor. Trapped beneath his grandfather's body in a cellar, Arlian accidentally ingests a mixture of dragon venom and human blood, and thereby becomes a ``dragonheart,'' blessed with health and long life. But first he's sold into slavery by the scavenging Lord Dragon and his henchmen. After many years, Arlian escapes from the slave mines and takes shelter in a brothel. The kindly inmates are slaves whose feet have been amputated to prevent their escape. Discovered at last by the madam, Arlian flees, but the owners, all Lords, kill or carry off the girls and burn the building. One day, Arlian vows, justice will be done. With gold stolen from a Lord's hoard, he equips a wagon and joins a caravan heading for the distant Borderlands. Along the way, his companion, Black, teaches him to fight. After many adventures, Arlian returns with vast wealth. Several of his enemies, he discovers, belong to the Dragon Societydragonhearts like himselfincluding his mortal enemy, Lord Dragon! The Society is dedicated to learning about dragons and sorcery, and all are sworn to share information. But Lord Dragon is holding out. How, for instance, did he know that the dragons were coming to destroy Obsidian? Often remarkably inventive, and commendably well organized: pity the implementation's largely flat and mediocre. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.