STORM DRAGON (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, October 11, 2007
The series opener for the Draconic Prophecies sequence, Storm Dragon takes us on an action-packed adventure that, although a little late in ripening, provides a solid base for an exciting new saga.
The first hardcover debut in Wizards’ Eberron universe, Storm Dragon is penned by James Wyatt and features a landscape on the verge of prophecy’s fruition. Gaven d’Lyrandar, of the Lyrandar Dragonmarked house, was a free spirit who never wanted to be tied down by the responsibilities of his heritage.
As a young man Gaven spent most of his time adventuring across the land with his fiancé Rienne, looking for dragonshards in the depths of the earth. But a particular dragonshard seemed to invade his mind and fill him with portents of impending doom. His resultant delirium escalated to all-out madness, and for his own safety Rienne turned him over to the Kundarak house of warding. Unfortunately for Gaven this landed him a life sentence in the island prison of Dreadhold, where during that time he manifested the highest magical skill level of his house, the Siberys Mark of Storm.
But while Gaven seemed all but lost in the prophecy of his own mind, a daring rescue sprung both himself and his cell neighbor out to a higher calling. Now on the run, Gaven must try to make sense of the visions that have plagued his conscience, and figure out the true intentions of his so called ‘rescuers’.
Right off the bat James Wyatt introduces us to the Draconic Prophecy (through the ravings of Gaven) before he ever lets us get comfortable with the characters. This isn’t such a bad thing, since most of the main players are developed quite well as the book goes on, but in the first few chapters we’re inadequately introduced to a slew of investigators. These investigators are assigned to bring back the fugitives and those responsible for Dreadhold’s attack, yet remain only names on paper when they later return; what information you’ve picked up about them earlier is either already forgotten or sketchily remembered at best.
Though the supporting roles lack depth, Gaven’s character arc builds a lot of momentum as we learn more about him, his past, and the prophecy stored in his brain. Haldren, a general from the Last War and Gaven’s former cell neighbor, has high ambitions with his partner in crime Vaskar, a bronze dragon who wishes to use the draconic prophecy to attain godhood. While Gaven travels across Eberron seeking knowledge, Haldren marshals new armies to reignite the dream of conquest that has never quite left his soul.
At times it felt like the continuous discourse on the prophecy would derail the whole driving force of Storm Dragon’s plot, but as things start to snowball into nonstop action I decided the lengthy establishment of draconic lore was more than justified. It’s also around this time that Gaven becomes more of an active hero than a passive spectator, which helps to get the reader invested in events as armies of men and dragons collide.
When the story starts rolling Wyatt antes up his narrative game (especially with the mysterious shapeshifter Darraun) and churns out an exciting tale of power and self-destiny. Storm Dragon may be a bit slow out of the gate, but finishes strong enough to provide a firm series foundation.
Mania Grade: B-
Author: James Wyatt
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast