Reviews of 'Brother of the Dragon'
Reviews of 'Brother of the Dragon'
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What can I say? Like Children of the Plains, this book had an amazing storyline, great characters and action.
This book finds the village of the Plainsmen 12 years after the events in the first novel. The threat this time is a band of "priests" that serve the dragon, led by an overly ambitious young man, aiming to take over leadership of the village. I found myself hating this guy. Needless to say, I was quite happy to see him bite the big one.
I found this novel much like The Empire Strikes Back. The good guys are in a jam, and it's not changing. The novel actually ends with the village still under seige, with some small victories, but the outlook appears grim. Nianki is mustering her band to aid the village, but the question remains of will they be there in time? Also, the main force for the village, the dragon Duranix, has disappeared, hunting his green dragon adversary. While this also removes the green dragon from the raider's side, they still have the advantage of sheer numbers and fighting ability.
Ideally, if these books follow the standard trilogy concept, the third book will turn this battle around, with the villagers coming out triumphant. The question still remains though as to who will survive... and if the raider leader Zannian is the sibling's missing brother, how will this resolve?
Review made May 29th, 2002.
Brother of the Dragon is the second volume in Thompson & Carter's
Barbarians Trilogy and if you remember back to close to this time one year ago, I said that Children of the Plains, the first book, was excellent. I also said I couldn't wait for the sequel. Well, if you want the short version of this review, lather, rinse, repeat. Brother of the Dragon was as good as its predecessor but, unlike Children of the Plains, has a cliffhanger ending that will have me absolutely salivating for Sister of the Sword, the final book in the trilogy.
If you expected this book to build off of Children of the Plains, you would be somewhat right and somewhat wrong. Brother of the Dragon opens 12 years after the conclusion of Children of the Plains. Yala-tene has grown much in that time, including an almost completed wall, and several families
moving in full-time. Duranix the bronze dragon has a cult dedicated to
him (the first signs of a human priesthood), headed by Tiphan, the son of
Konza, who appeared in the final chapter of the last book. Despite
figuring out how to MELT bronze at the end of Children of the Plains, Amero is still struggling with molding it for utilization by Yala-tene and its people.
The book begins with his latest attempt leading to a small explosion that
puts out the eye of one worker (Unar, brother of Lyopi, a minor character
who is Amero's lover in the book) and leaves him dejected and upset. The
event draw the attention of the Sensarku, the Servants of the Dragon, and
their leader Tosen (First Servant) Tiphan, Amero's political rival.
Tiphan reveals that Duranix told him not to expect any more snow and that
he was going to have the farmers put their crops in early. Amero
disagrees, saying Duranix couldn't know any more about the weather than
they could, but the people of Yala-tene place more stock in the words of
their Protector than the Arkuden and Tiphan is off. On the way back, he
stops by a tent merchant and buys a book off him that is reputed to be
Silvanesti works on the nature of their magic, including script by
Vedvedsica himself on how to "control the sun," if I recall correctly. The book costs
Tiphan his bronze scale robe (Duranix's castoffs), but the merchant, Bek, assures him they are well worth the trade.
The book than shifts to a destroyed nomad village, attacked by raiders.
They hunt down the survivors and capture them, a list which includes
young Beramun, a female nomad who catches the eye of raider chieftain
Zannian. She is brought, eventually, along with the rest of the captured
slaves, before Zannian's master, the evil Sthenn, or, as he prefers to be
called by humans, Greengall. Beramun continues to entertain fantasies of
escaping, despite Zannian's assurances it is impossible. Sthenn's
minions ruthlessly patrol his forested home, wherein lies the holding of
Almurk, where the raiders live and the slaves are brought to mine and
perform other menial tasks. Sthenn intends to conquer the plains with
his raiders and take Yala-tene. Zannian and his mother, Nacris (yes, the
same, though with one less leg) prepare the raiders for the upcoming
battle with endless drills and continuing raids of the outlying
tribesmen. Nacris, in particular, has raised a group of orphaned
plainschildren from very young ages to be ruthless killing machines
called the Jade Men.
Eventually, the book begins to set events in motion. Tiphan decides to
depart to investigate the ring of standing stones near the Silvanesti
border (from the first book) after reading the elven scrolls. Beramun
escapes Almurk, but is caught by Sthenn and branded with his mark and
sent on her way to Yala-tene to bring tales of his raiders and the coming
doom of the settlement. Amero continues to struggle with his role as
town leader, especially when the cold comes back and crops fail. The
arrival of Beramun in his midst after Tiphan's disappearance and the
arrival of a tribe of centaurs bringing tidings of Silvanesti's army
expanding their borders sends the town into a frenzy of activity leading
up to the raiders arrival, Tiphan's miraculous return, and a great
cliffhanger of an ending.
I'll mention naught else about the book, because I want everyone to read
it if you're interested. However, I'll dip briefly into some character analyses, because, well, that's what I do!
Amero, 12 years later, is still the unsure leader he was at the end of
Children of the Plains, but is learning to cope with his role. As headman of Yala-tene and
the revered Arkuden, his job is still not easy, due to Tiphan's dogmatic
ways and the growing popularity of the Sensarku and his continued failure
at making bronze. Life doesn't get easier with the arrival of the much
younger Beramun, who sends Amero's hormones into an uproar, to the
chagrin of his lover and mate-in-all-but-name Lyopi. Diplomacy is not
Amero's forte, either, as he is a bit of a hothead, esp. around Tiphan,
which goes back to his being orphaned at 13 and raised by a dragon and
thrust into a leadership role over an entire settlement at 19. At 31,
life's still not going the easy way for Amero and Thompson and Carter do
a great job with him, making him the underdog hero we all know and love
to read about.
Beramun reminds me a lot of Nianki, which was, I believe, the point.
While not as much of a spitfire warrior-woman as Nianki became, Beramun
retains the survivalist attitude of a nomadic plainswoman and
demonstrates a spirited side in spite of all the heartache she is forced
to endure in such a short time. She is almost a kindred spirit to Amero,
but her pain is newer and he has more adjusted to being settled than she.
Unlike Amero, though, she knows the reason for her orphanage and hostile
life and has dedicated herself to the destruction of Zannian and his
master, if possible. Thompson and Carter do a great job with Beramun
too, firmly demonstrating her naivete yet also showing the indomitable
spirit of a headstrong young girl. While not a heroine beyond the basic
level, she has potential and is well done.
Tiphan was the best character to read about, because Thompson and Carter
did him to perfection. A zealot, Tiphan is grating on the nerves of the
reader (and Amero) with his constant babble about the Protector and the
importance of the Sensarku, but becomes even more creepy after his
"religious experience" at the standing stones, from which he comes back
even more dedicated, but less to the Protector and more towards unlocking
the secrets of the elven priests' magic for the good of his people. A
minor villain, his dangerous use of magical stones leads to trouble for
the village down the road, but ultimately Tiphan manages to win a minor
victory for Yala-tene, though the cost becomes more than he anticipated.
I'd like to say I want to see him back in Sister of the Sword, but I know
that they really can't do much more with him and if he does return, I
imagine it will be a little more tempered and with a purpose for once in
his life that's not based around him.
Sthenn, Nacris, and Zannian are the perfect triad of villains for the
book to center around. Sadistic, evil, and vicious, Sthenn is one of the
best written green dragons I've seen in DragonLance literature. He's no
Cyan Bloodbane, but comes damn close at times with the level of his
perverted schemes. Nacris is the emotionless, hardened driving force
behind the raiders and Almurk, dedicated to the destruction of Karada,
who was responsible for the death of the man she loved (in Children of the Plains). She
also has a score to settle with Yala-tene and its headman, for obvious
reasons. Zannian is the leader of the troops, evil and corrupted, yet at
times showing a glimmer of actual morality and emotion. It's too early
to say how their relationship will culminate (Nacris is revealed to be
the adoptive mother of Zannian, though he doesn't remember it), but
Nacris will likely get her showdown with Karada and Zann will likely come
to the right decision, no matter the cost to him. His lust for Beramun
is the most interesting thing about him, and may drive him to do
something to win her love in Sister of the Sword. Sthenn's fate will
probably be sealed before the end of Sister of the Sword in his final
duel with Duranix (the connection between the two of them is explained in
the book and is a great backstory).
Mara, Duranix, Lyopi, Konza, Jenla, Paharo, Hoten, Huru, and several
other people made up the scores of supporting characters in the book, and
I'm sure a couple will become extremely important in the third book. In
particular, I'm leaning towards Hoten's role to become bigger as
Zannian's choices become more and more questionable. With the hint of
ogres coming, the return of Karada's band to Yala-tene heavy on the wind,
and, of course, the forces of Silvanesti remaining a constant threat,
Sister of the Sword has the potential to be one of the best conclusionary
novels ever written. I can't wait.
A couple things I picked up on in this novel, btw, were the fact that the
song Amero's mother made up for him was being sung by the raiders,
suggesting a connection between the family of Oto and Kinar and the
raiders that I never even thought of. All I can think of is Menni,
Amero's young brother, lost to him at the claws of the yevi (or so we
were made to infer and so he believes) and all those adopted children of
The other thing was Bek, a man who wasn't quite a man, but a shapeshifter
of a sort, resembling a panther in places. The seller of the information
to Tiphan, Bek's very nature seems to suggest he'll play a much bigger
role than he has. Why mention such a bizarre thing if it's not important
to the story. I'm almost willing to put money on it being a divine power
looking to win worshippers among the humans. Good, bad, or indifferent,
however, is the question that begs be asked... and answered.
So, to wrap things up, if you haven't read Children of the Plains, get it
and read it. Once you've done that or, if you have already, get your
hands on Brother of the Dragon. The Barbarians series is looking to be
one of the best historical novel series DL has ever put out, on par with
the Elven and Dwarven Nations books, as well as with some of the Lost
Histories and the Kaz story arc.
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