Vengewar (Wake The Dragon book 2) by Kevin J. Anderson (book review)

April 25, 2021 | By | Reply More

‘Vengewar (Wake The Dragon book 2) is the follow-up volume to ‘Spine Of The Dragon’ and the second part of Kevin J. Anderson’s latest epic fantasy trilogy. ‘Spine Of The Dragon’ introduced the vast cast of characters and set the story in motion. ‘Vengewar’ moves it along.

The background is rich in possibilities. Long ago, the god Kur created the world and the wreths to rule over it, powerful humanoid beings with magical abilities. Beneath a mountain chain sleeps the great dragon Ossus, who is meant to contain all the evil in the world, though he clearly doesn’t. The wreths created humans to be their slaves. The wreths fell out with each other in a sort of religious schism about Kur, had a great war which used up much of the magic in the world and then disappeared or so it seemed. The humans left behind, masterless, spent the next 2000 years building their own civilisations. The Commonwealth is an alliance of three nations on the old continent. Ages ago, human settlers went to a new continent across the sea and founded Ishara. The magic on the new continent wasn’t used up in the wreth war and is manifested in godlings who took form when the people prayed to them, and persist now.

Now the wreths have returned to the old continent. From the desert to the south came sandwreths to threaten Suderra. From the frozen wastes of the north came frostwreths to threaten Norterra. The Commonwealth must unite against this great danger. Unfortunately, Mangan, the Konag or chief king of the Commonwealth is a spoiled brat, a coward, a sadist and under the control of his advisor Utho. In turn, Utho hates Ishara and is obsessed with making war there. He ignores the threat of the wreths.

This beginning of ‘Vengewar’ is slow and frustrating with kings sending messages and sallying forth to see each other. Eventually, the story gets going. There are so many characters and events that it would be tedious and spoiling to try and summarise the plot or even to name the main personnel. Suffice to say that there are a number of surprising twists near the end which make it entertaining. Anderson writes in modern thriller mode with short chapters of about five pages with a new viewpoint character every time. Each chapter ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger and you come back to it a while later to find out what happened. The individual stories are all part of the big picture. As ever, this works well.

There are intriguing hints about the nature of the world and its magic. The godlings of Ishara are maintained by faith and blood donations and are mostly under human control but what if they became too powerful? The ska, reptile birds that have a heart link to Utauks, a nomad tribe, may be important in some way. The wreths hate them. Large, dangerous dragons which emerge from volcanoes seem to be fragments of Ossus. Thon, the powerful wreth-like being found at the heart of a mountain, appears to be a decent sort but may have dark secrets of his own. All this keeps the reader guessing.

It’s a strong story, clearly told. As in Anderson’s ‘Dune’ sequels, the villains are one-dimensional fanatics who will do anything to sate their obsession but the heroes are more rounded and sympathetic characters. After a hundred pages or so, one is caught up in the yarn and happily rolls along with it. Pure escapism but well-wrought. I liked it and look forward to book three.

Eamonn Murphy

April 2021

(pub: TOR, 2021. 480 page hardback. Price: $29.99 (US), $39.99 (CAN0, £23.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-25030-213-7)

check out website: www.tor.com

Category: Books, Fantasy

About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel reviewer who writes a bit too. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bigfootmurf

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