Epic LITE

When I began reading King's Dragon I couldn't understand why so many reviewers were comparing Elliott's work to George R R Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire. Yes, they both take advantage of traditional fantasy settings and capitalize on traditional fantasy figures and give them a special twist all their own ... but I just couldn't see the comparison to the grand world-scale magnum opus which is the world of the Starks and Lannisters. Once I hit that half-way point and the storyline branched out from the limited and very isolated POVs of Alain & Liath I started to understand the lines drawn between the two series. Personally, I would call this ASOIAF LITE. It utilizes many of the same concepts and mechanics: the build-up of a world-changing cataclysm, a vast range of characters who bring their own backgrounds and personal biases to the story telling, the tried-and-true tussle over the throne, and a plethora of hints and leading clues which refused to resolve themselves in a hurry. If you couldn't bring yourself to read Martin's work, but liked the ideas behind it then this might be the right alternative for you.

Elliot's characterization is fabulous in most respects. She creates characters who carry both their virtues and vices with them and allows them to dash head-long into the maelstrom of political turmoil and international/inter-species war. I found Liath to be a little bit of a weaker character than Alain since she's just a little to cookie-cutter-beauty-whom-all-men-fall-madly-in-love-with. I also felt Alain grew more as a character throughout the book. Liath's underlying purpose just seemed to be to go from abusively controlling situation to doomed-from-the-moment-I-saw-you-but-you're-the-only-one-I'll-ever-love situation. I know these two relationships she forms are important to the series as a whole, but she just didn't come out as a really impressive character because of it. Alain, on the other hand, was forced through a tempering that forced him to act and react from the depths of his own personality. His plot line established important relationships as well, but his character growth was more effective. I love his faithful hounds, Rage and Sorrow!

There is a lot going on in this book, and since it is the first of seven it is impossible to tell where the many plot lines begun here will end up leading. It will be interesting to see how not only Alain and Liath, but also the multiple supporting characters introduced as POVs in the second half will develop as the series progresses. Bravo!