Reviews of 'Blades of the Tiger'
Reviews of 'Blades of the Tiger'
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Chris Pierson earned his place among the upper echelon of Dragonlance authors when he wrote the Kingpriest trilogy, in this reviewer's opinion, one of the best pieces of Dragonlance fiction written in a very long time. Blades of the Tiger takes Mr. Pierson's considerable talents across the ocean from sunken Istar to Taladas, with this, the first volume in the Taladas trilogy, and the first Dragonlance novel to touch on the continent to Ansalon's northeast. Based on the contents of the first book, I can't wait to see what else is in store for the continent in the next two installments. For those that haven't yet read Blades of the Tiger, minor spoilers await.
The novel opens by introducing the reader to one of the story's main characters, Shedara of Thelis, an elven moon thief. Contracted by the Voice of the Armach elves to steal a painting from a minotaur's tower, she is instead alarmed to discover the minotaur mortally wounded, with a mysterious statue missing from his tower. Returning to the elven homeland of Armach, Shedara is dispatched to recover the statue and to bring it back to the elves at all costs.
At the same time, Chovuk Tegin, an ambitious clan leader of the Uigan barbarian tribes of the Tamire, plots his rise to power. At his side is a young bodyguard named Hult, sworn to protect him at all costs. When the Uigan's king, the Boyla, is slain by their mortal enemies, Tegin assumes the throne and begins preparation for a war of revenge.
And, Barreth Forlo, the marshal of the Minotaur League returns with the victorious Sixth army from their war of conquest in Thenol, to the south.
While these three plotlines seem to be completely separate on first glance, Pierson masterfully weaves them together as the reader delves further into Blades of the Tiger.
In addition to spinning a compelling story, Blades of the Tiger also features excellent character development, especially on the part of Hult and Forlo—an interesting dichotomy given their positions on opposite ends of the soldiering career, with the younger just beginning his and the elder looking forward to a quiet retirement with his wife along the Tiderun. Hult's character, moreso than the others, experiences the classical journey of the Hero through Blades of the Tiger, beginning the novel as a youth and ending it as an honorable man.
Blades of the Tiger also introduces some interesting twists to the plot. Forlo is tormented by nightmares of his campaign against the evil Bishop Ondelos in Thenol, while Shedara pursues the mysterious statue across the length and breadth of southern Taladas, evading the mysterious shadows that slew the statue's former owner. All the while, a greater evil seems to be behind events in the Uigan tribes, while the story rushes on to a head—with one character making a decision that seems wise at the time, but may lead to dire consequences later in the series.
Pierson does a masterful job of translating some of the Dragonlance archetypes from Ansalon to Taladas. (Blades of the Tiger includes a brief glossary of terms in the back of the book.) A brief discussion of the history of Taladas and how it was ruled by the empire of Aurim prior to the Cataclysm—the Destruction—with accompanying discussion on what has happened since is very helpful in understanding the context of the story. The three moons of magic, the goddess Mishakal and Chemosh are also present and familiar, though different enough from their Ansalonian forms to be fresh and unique.
If Blades of the Tiger has one weakness, it is that the novel is quite obviously the first part of a larger, as-yet-unfinished story. Much like the ending of the recent film version of Fellowship of the Ring, Blades of the Tiger ends with a cliffhanger—although Pierson succeeds in cleaning up the loose ends, so there is a clear end to the story. However, with a brilliantly conceived story, compelling characters, and major shifts to the powers that be in Taladas lurking in the wings, the second and third installments of the Taladas trilogy on the horizon, Blades of the Tiger is definitely a novel that should be in every fan's collection.
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