End of the World Via Dragon Army: A Brief Review of The Legion of Flame
Anthony Ryan delivers again in The Legion of Flame (2017), second book in The Draconis Memoria. I am very excited for the next installment!
I was particularly struck by the similarities - and the important differences - between Ryan's work and The Memory of the Flames series by Stephen Deas which I recently reviewed.
5/5 - Thoroughly Enjoyed!
In both stories, dragons/drakes have been controlled by humans and break free. A white dragon/drake begins gathering their kin to wage war on humanity, using subjugated humans as tools or food as they go. Furthermore, the human societies are steeped in intrigue, in-fighting, and deep-seeded resentment of one another.
In my review of The Memory of the Flames, I faulted Deas for playing too loosely with audience emotion by killing off view-point characters, thereby teaching readers not to invest in their efforts. The story-line surrounding the human nobility seemed to be developing separate from the story-line about the growing dragon army, leaving the reader with a sense of futility, since those petty squabbles would be meaningless once their society was up-ended.
Ryan's work stands as a counter example.
The world is still dark, powers that be still cannot let go of their own agendas, and characters still die. However, the four main characters Clay, Lizanne, Sirus, and Hilemore understand the threat and are working towards concrete solutions. Solutions that the reader is not only willing to invest in, but is excited to see play out.
The Dark Is Not Weakened by the Presence of Light
The situation in The Memory of the Flames seems hopeless. The dragons are too powerful and humanity too distracted for any conclusion other than humanity's extinction. Furthermore, the characters show a level of depravity that the reader is hard-pressed to desire any other ending.
Ryan's Draconis Memoria is a superior story in its depiction of noble characters who are not cowed by the dark, without lessening its power to destroy.
One example is Sirus, who stands in contrast to Kemir in The Memory of the Flames. While both characters serve the White Dragon/Drake in person, Kemir is cowed by its cruelty and might and Sirus, whose very will is forced into servitude, harbors rebellion in his heart. When he is given the opportunity to protect the woman he loves, he defies the White's will to do so.
In The Legion of Flames, the solutions the characters strive for weave in and out of political intrigues, polar hiking, and prison breaks draped in an exciting mix of steam punk, naval fantasy, and dragon fighting. Every thread seems to be woven into a single tapestry, building towards a central climax. I can't wait to read the next book!