THE DRAGONCROWN WAR CYCLE by Michael A. Stackpole is one of my all time favorite fantasy series. I became initially hooked when, looking for free audio fantasy stories to listen to at work. I found the first 300 or so pages of FORTRESS DRACONIS available as an audio podcast on iTunes. This marketing approach worked, as I ended up buying all three books and swiftly reading through them. This review will only cover the three core books of the series, FORTRESS DRACONIS (2002), WHEN DRAGONS RAGE (2003) and THE GRAND CRUSADE (2004). I’ve not read the prequel book, THE DARK GLORY WAR (2000).
When the story begins, we are introduced to Will Norrington, a young thief who gets swept up into this adventure when he learns from two new comrades Resolute, a Vorquelf warrior, and his human partner Crow that he’s destined to bring down, and Chytrine, a powerful fae woman who commands unimaginable forces of evil, intent on conquering the world. Chytrine has attained part of an artifact known as the DragonCrown which gives its yielder control over dragons, making her even more powerful. Along the way our heroes pick up many allies to their cause including Kerrigan Reese, the most powerful mage in years but who’s still young and naive. Kerrigan later becomes one of my favorite characters as he seems to grow the most throughout the series as circumstances force him to reach his true potential even when he doubts himself. They also meet Princess Alexia, who proves a great fighter and strategist, and Dranae, a stalwart, hulking man who holds an intriguing secret even he doesn’t realize until much later in the series.
Over the course of these three books the band in opposition to Chytrine encounter mystical beings, such as dragons, giant spiders, hideous gibbers, the shapeshifting urZethri, and much more. They find magic items, struggle with political machinations from countries they are supposed to be allied with, and of course there are those glorious battles. These large scale conflicts kept me riveted as warring factions square off against each other. They’re well planned out, logical and exciting to read.
I loved reading this series. The characters are memorable, the magic system is interesting, the various nations and cultures add depth to the overall world, and the battles are incredible. I give these series my highest possible recommendation.
Article by Matt Cowan