Dennis L. McKiernan, |
(Roc, 1990; reprint, 2002)
If you asked a hundred readers who love fantasy writing what their favorite aspect of the genre is, you would most likely receive nearly a hundred varied answers. Action, excitement, adventure, immersion into the lore of another world and the interactions between characters of differing cultural backgrounds (albeit fictional) are all bound to be top answers; Dennis McKiernan delivers all of these qualities in the re-release of his epic fantasy novel Dragondoom.
The history of Mithgar is thick with strife and riddled with mysteries that extend across the different civilizations, and we receive another small piece of the puzzle that is Mithgar in Dragondoom. As their histories are bound up in war and theft, Thork and Elyn are enemies in every sense of the word. To put it simply, Thork's brother and Elyn's father were both killed in a war caused by Elyn's brother's greed. Now the two must rely on each other to defeat the dragon Kalgalath and his conspirator, the wizard Andrak.
With the weight of the responsibility for their people upon their shoulders, Thork and Elyn develop a deep love for each other that McKiernan conveys magnificently. I couldn't imagine either Elyn losing her vital edge or Thork his warrior ways when their feelings evolved to something beyond sharing this burden together, but McKiernan develops the relationship with such care that it is absolutely believable. These complex characters gain each other's respect and love without losing any of the tenacity that makes them individuals.
As always, I adore McKiernan's use of language strongly similar to Old English throughout the story. This element brings a depth to the culture, lore and characters that would otherwise be sadly lacking. The jumps backward and forward in time can be disconcerting at first, but you soon find yourself so caught up in the storyline that the changes in time and place actual move you along even more quickly rather than hinder your progress.
To be honest, I haven't read anything my McKiernan in quite some time. Dragondoom has brought my attention around to Mithgar again, and I am more than happy to tread down that path. McKiernan deftly draws his readers into his fantasy world with seemingly effortless, detailed character descriptions, dialogue and prose that brings Mithgar into sharp focus.