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Saturday, 2 May 2009

THE ADAMANTINE PALACE by Stephen Deas


The Adamantine Palace lies at the centre of an empire that grew out of ashes. Once dragons ruled the world and man was little more than prey. Then a way of subduing the dragons alchemicly was discovered and now the dragons are bred to be little more than mounts for knights and highly valued tokens in the diplomatic power-players that underpin the rule of the competing aristocratic houses.

The Empire has grown fat. And now one man wants it for himself. A man prepared to poison the king just as he has poisoned his own father. A man prepared to murder his lover and bed her daughter. A man fit to be king? But unbeknownst to him there are flames on the way. A single dragon has gone missing. And even one dragon on the loose, unsubdued, returned to its full intelligence, its full fury, could spell disaster for the Empire.

This is the first book I've read by Stephen Deas, and it won't be the last.

Firstly, I have to say that I love dragons, so reading a book where dragons are the core of the realms, had me hooked pretty early on. The prologue of this very exciting book shocked me so much that it propelled me deeper into the story right away.

In a world where dragons exist and are bred and looked after by the Scales, and then ridden by dragon-knights, queens, kings, princes, and princesses, they are also used to do the bidding of these riders. No dragon is supposed to do anything on its own accord, not since the alchemists made sure of that by creating a potion. That is, until a white dragon called Snow - intended as a wedding present for Prince Jehal - goes missing and begins to awaken. After that, she's willing to do whatever it takes to find those responsible for keeping her kind under the 'Little Ones' control, as well as free other dragons along the way.

Every scene in this exhilarating book is heightened with tension. The suspense kept me guessing as each character's personal motivation started to shine through, only to be turned on its head as soon as I was sure where the story was going to take me. I loved the unpredictability of each character's next move.

I was enthralled from the first page and couldn't wait to reach what turned out to be a very exciting conclusion to a fantastic book. The world building was tight and amazing! The scenery described so flawlessly that I was swept away to these exotic locations.

The Adamantine Palace is a sharp, fast and well-written tale filled with an intriguing secret, treachery, betrayal, ambition, double crossing, and adventure. There are several POVs in this story - ranging from the wicked Prince Jehal, to the scheming Queen Shezira, to the aging Speaker Hyram, as well as the sell-sword Kemir, amongst others. And I found that the quick chapters and shifts in point of view kept me on my toes, and turning every page with interest.

This book will appeal to fantasy fans, dragon fans, as well as anyone who enjoys a very skillfully weaved story that takes you on a very twisted path that doesn't let up until the very last words. And even those last words are good ones.

The Adamantine Palace, May 2009, ISBN 0575083743, Gollancz Paperback

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