"Dragonspawn" is book one of a two book series in the "Land Between the Rivers" saga. Written by Mark Acres (coincidentally the author of Runesword #5 "Dark Divide" which I just read) I picked this title up on a whim in the used section at a local B&N. At the time I didn't realize it was the same author of the book I was currently reading and purchased it solely on the cover art and back teaser alone. Dragonspawn's story revolves around a short, middle aged, pudgy, salt and pepper haired thief named Bagsby. Bagsby has made his way through life as a constant swindler and rogue, earning himself quite the reputation. Enough of a reputation it seems to have drawn the attention of the elves, who send a female elven mage named Shulana to seek the assistance. Bagsby is asked to pull off the ultimate heist and steal the Golden Eggs of Parona before they fall into an ancient and evil wizard's hands. Encased in gold, these eggs are all that remain of dragonkind after their centuries old war with elvenkind. Bagsby of course, can't resist such a challenge and warily accepts Shulana's offer and together they set off in search of the eggs. Here are my thoughts on Dragonspawn;
+ Engaging prologue, cover art and back teaser.
+ Adult fantasy theme. Note: Some things may not please more sensitive readers. Examples include decapitation, throat slitting, flesh branding and murder of women and children.
+ Enjoyed the concept of Elves warring with Dragons for centuries.
+ Non stereo-typical characters with the heroes who often walk the line between right and wrong. Favorites were Bagsby, Shulana and Valdaimon.
+ Author provided a description of the world's pantheon and the portfolio's the gods encompassed (War, Harvest, Death etc.).
+ Everything is well described and explained (Valdaimon's rituals, cities, people etc.).
Cons <Contains SPOILERS>
- Author uses the name Elrond as the "common" name for one of the oldest elves in the realm while his "true" name is Lelolan. He also uses the name Pendargon (close enough to Pendragon and enough to bother me) as well as Nordingham (i.e. Nottingham).
- No world map, yet the author clearly spelled out the majority of the land. I felt not including a map was a miss.
- Repetitive references to "Valdaimon's smile revealing his few yellowed remaining teeth."
- Two characters named "Sir John" in the same chapters of the story. This was very confusing when you're trying to read those passages.
- Covert art really doesn't match any scene in the book.
Dragonspawn turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise. Having bought it based solely on the cover art and back teaser alone I was a bit apprehensive about it due to my disappointment with a previous Acres' book (Runesword #5 Dark Divide). Luckily my apprehensions were lifted and I found a captivating tale with engaging characters that always kept me wanting to read more, something that's often rare for me with most books. Acres well thought out characters, elaborate descriptions and compelling story are what made this book a great read despite its flaws. At the end I couldn't wait to start the second and final book in the series "Dragonwar." However, I couldn't help but wonder why the story was split into two books as it could easily have been one. In any case, Dragonspawn was a thoroughly entertaining high fantasy adventure.