Dragonslayer – Review

A fast paced ‘back to basics’ traditional fantasy tale that keeps the fun factor high.

Author: Duncan M Hamilton

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 304

Rating: 4.5 stars (Rounded up to 5 on Goodreads/Amazon)

How beautiful is that cover!?

Synopsis:

With the dragons believed dead, the kingdom had no more need for dragonslayers.

Drunk, disgraced, and all but forgotten, Guillot has long since left his days of heroism behind him. As forgotten places are disturbed in the quest for power, and things long dormant awaken, the kingdom finds itself in need of a dragonslayer once again, and Guillot is the only one left…


This was a tricky review to write! Why?

Because I loved it, but I can see why others might not! Rather than try to explain this in the paragraphs I since deleted, I’ll let the review speak for itself.

Review

This book was one of those cosy, relaxing reads that just makes you feel good!

The majority of the story and magic system was unoriginal, most of the events pretty predictable and only the character of Guillot (or Gill, our main protagonist) had much of a hint of character development.

For me personally, none of that matters here! Unlike some stories in which there are clear influences bordering on plagiarism, Dragonslayer doesn’t try to hide. It takes traditional tropes and leaves them be. It is an honest, exciting page turner that for lack of a better term, just makes you feel comfortable. I really enjoy in-depth tomes that break the mould and in which you have
to concentrate but if you want a story that you can just sit back and enjoy I recommend Dragonslayer highly. It also has a sort of faux medieval France setting but there are hints of a diverse expanded wider world that would be interesting to explore in later books.

I felt a degree of solidity through the book, in which a lack of complexity doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s really well written and you can allow yourself to be fully immersed in an old-school adventure quest!

Despite this, it’s not a completely hopeful story without darkness. Gill is a man struggling with alcoholism and whilst his search for a drink can sometimes take a comedic turn, the death of his wife and child being the catalyst for his drinking makes you feel sorry for his character. There are also some pretty brutal deaths which sets it apart from the otherwise traditional storyline.

Although you could argue there is a lack of particularly in depth character building you do get the impression there’s a lot of scope in the remaining two books in the trilogy to really develop the characters of Guillot and Solene. They’re certainly both very likeable and I’m sure many of us can also relate to someone dreaming of what could have been and the glory days whilst nursing an expanding waistline and drinking more than we should! Just me? Oh ok…

My favourite part of this book was experiencing the dragon’s POV. I’d have loved to have read more Alpheratz chapters as it was a unique perspective seeing the dragon’s thoughts and seeing him as more than some rampaging monster. It also makes you feel sympathy for the dragon and question the way you see the ‘monster’ in these type of stories, so in this respect at least, Dragonslayer does help to challenge our understanding of traditional monster hunter fantasy stories.

Predictably, the book meanders its way to a finale with the dragon like you’re expecting. This doesn’t make it any less of an enjoyable ride or the events any less fun. And parts of this review might make you question why I could give something with some flaws a high rating.

Well, sometimes it’s harder to describe exactly why you liked something, but in even some of my favourite books there are parts that you want to get through to get to more enjoyable parts of the story or they have a certain lull in the middle. I looked forward to getting home every day to get back to Dragonslayer and read it without getting distracted by my phone or the TV. The pages flew by and when finished I just felt a real “I loved that book!” feeling. I wanted a page turner, I wanted an interesting dragon, magic, swords with a bit of backstabbing and surprise brutality thrown in the mix and I got all this and more. It was really fun and I enjoyed it far more than many other fantasy books that brought more complexity and originality without the exciting story!

I own book two, Knight of the Silver Circle and look forward to reading it.

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