The King of the Crags by Stephen Deas

It’s been three months since I enjoyed and reviewed The Adamantine Palace, book one of A Memory of Flames by Stephen Deas. Today, I review its sequel. The King of the Crags has everything The Adamantine Palace had and more. Though the story of Deas’ epic dragon trilogy continues in this book, I will limit this review to only very minor spoilers from the first volume.

Continuing in chaos
I said about the previous book, “Dragons, politics, intrigue, poison, mass murders and a dark past are just some of the words that come to mind when reading,” and all of them can be applied to The King of the Crags as well. This novel continues the events of its predecessor in an amazing fashion, showing the chaos those events have left behind, a chaos one couldn’t even have guessed at after finishing The Adamantine Palace.

Increasingly epic
This story has grown so much more epic in volume two. There were two problems I had with the previous volume: the very flat characters and the lack of world building. Though there is still only very minor world building going on in The King of the Crags, it becomes more obvious that this world is amazingly vast and well-envisioned. Through small hints, setting details and pieces of history – which, I must add, are very intriguing – the reader learns more and more about this world.

Through these hints, including some great foreshadowing, a stage is set rivaling a number of big fantasy series. Of course, being a trilogy of small books, Deas has clearly chosen a path of pacing as opposed to vast world building. That doesn’t change, however, that this book feels like it’s leading into a much bigger final volume. Many fantasy fans will remember when Peter Jackson’s Two Towers movie came out. He had left out a lot of storylines that were originally in the book, all of which he needed to put into The Return of the King. I remember thinking: “Oh boy, the next movie will be eight hours long!”

Many storylines
That was exactly how The King of the Crags left me feeling. There are so many storylines here, and so many more that are hinted at. Huge battles of dragons, both dragons with riders and very dangerous rogue dragons; a mysterious people with the illustrious-sounding name Taiytakei, who clearly have an agenda of their own; other secrets, some from the past, that may or may not be related… Yeah, this one was epic, and the next one, The Order of the Scales, promises to be even more so.

Individual characters
Speaking of Peter Jackson, I’d say he can ditch both Temeraire and The Hobbit’s Smaug, because Snow, the rogue white dragon, is the next big thing. That leads me to the second problem I had with The Adamantine Palace: that of flat characters. Apparently, Deas is one of those authors who get better with every book. The characters in The King of the Crags felt very real to me. Not just Snow, who is easily my favorite dragon ever written, but many of the human characters as well. While I thought all characters in the previous book were very much the same, Deas has managed to create individuals this time around.

Pacing problems
It wasn’t all good, however. There is one very big problem I have with this novel. While pacing was the biggest asset of the previous novel, I feel like The King of the Crags has shifted it up another gear. And frankly, it’s going too fast to truly enjoy the story. This is a story with short chapters and at least a dozen different points of view, that moves from action scene to action scene. That isn’t always a bad thing, but missing all that happens in the time between scenes, gaps of weeks or even months, sometimes left me with a headache.

Why should you read this book?
If you like epic fantasy or dragons, or even just like sharp dialogues or awesome battles, you should definitely read The Adamantine Palace. If you’ve read that one, and even slightly enjoyed it, you will probably love The King of the Crags. Stephen Deas has combined all that’s good in fantasy and spun it around in a thriller-paced tale that will leave you breathless.

About Stephan van Velzen

Stephan van Velzen
A 31 year-old Communications student, Stephan loves publicity and design, particularly web design. When he’s not designing websites, he can be found in a comfy chair reading a fantasy book. In The Ranting Dragon, he has found a way to combine these passions and discover a new love for writing to boot. Stephan lives in a small town in The Netherlands with his wife Rebecca, an editor for The Ranting Dragon, and their two cats.

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