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Bones of the Dragon    by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman order for
Bones of the Dragon
by Margaret Weis
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2009 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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*   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

The Vindras are a sea-fairing, warrior-like people. They live off the land, pay homage to their gods, and launch raids against other villages. Among them, Skylan Ivorson is best known for his bravery, his strength, and his unquestionable faith in the gods. And why wouldn't he be faithful? He's been blessed by Skoval, the god of war himself.

What Skylan doesn't know is that his blessing is also a curse. When Skylan's raids begin to fail, he doesn't dream of questioning the gods. When the dragon that guides his warship fails to appear and fight on the Vindras' side, Skylan once again chooses not to doubt. But when orcs show up in his village claiming the Vindras' gods are dead, having been defeated by other gods, he knows it's time to step up and face his destiny. For it's Skylan and other heroes and heroines who must step up and gather the Five Bones of the Vektan Dragons, a quest that will either redeem them, or doom them all.

Bones of the Dragon is the first book in the Dragonships series, which will span a six-book epic saga. This first installment is meant to build the world and introduce the characters, and it shows. The pace of the novel crawls, and the book feels much too lengthy for the story it tells. It takes too long for the crux of the plot to be introduced, and too much attention is paid to minute world building details. More frustrating yet, the characters are either stereotypical and bland, or plain unlikable. Skylan himself acts like a spoiled brat most of the time and carries a chip on his shoulder that makes him difficult, if not impossible, to relate to.

It's clear that Weis and Hickman are preparing for an over-riding story arc. I have no doubt the characters are meant to take the reader on a journey of redemption, but it'll take a giant leap of faith (and a great deal of patience) for most fans of the genre to come along for the ride. The magic that made Dragonlance such a beloved series is sadly missing from this first Dragonships novel.

Audiobook Review by Hilary Williamson:

A war between gods spills into a fantasy world of Viking-like Vindrasi (champions of the dragon-goddess, who have real dragons at their call) in Bones of the Dragon, first in the six-volume Dragonships of Vindras series by Dragonlance creators Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The audiobook (18 hours in 16 CDs) is ably narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, whose range encompasses both deep-voiced male and milder female roles.

The epic's young hero is Skylan Ivorson, son of Torgun chief Norgaard and worshipper of Skoval, the god of war. Skylan is also the Torgun war chief. Unfortunately, though brave to the point of recklessness, Skylan has impulse management problems, usually controlled by his loyal best friend Garn, to whose sage advice he sometimes listens. But unknown to Skylan, Garn loves their mutual friend Aylaen, long viewed by Skylan as his destined mate - and that love is reciprocated.

Skylan faces the usual quest, in this case to recover the Five Bones of the Vektan Dragons, and so save his gods (and hence all the Vindrasi) from their enemies. But though I enjoy a good epic as much as other fantasy fans, I had two problems with this one. Despite some new and imaginative elements, too much of the tale is same old, same old. And I found it really hard to like anything about Skylan, making it difficult to identify with his concerns.

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