After a generation of battle the Shadow was finally torn and cast out, but that victory had been dearly bought. The great spirits who had fought beside man – the mer, the sylphs, and even the great dragons – were so sore wounded that they withdrew from the world, falling into a long slumber. A slumber that lasts thousands of years.
When Tarnamell, the eldest of the dragons, finally wakes it is to a world he doesn’t recognise, empty of anything he loved. Still mazed from sleep and lost without the anchor of his Hoard, he followed the sun to the hot sands of Algard. There he found a cocky little godling who fancied itself a match for the dragons of old, and something old and foul he’d thought gone forever. Roused only to be thrown into a new war with that oldest enemy, Tarn seeks to win over his desert spirit and the humans he fell in with. Because that is the weakness of Dragons, without something to love they are nothing. A weakness the Shadow remembers well.
For those who just recoiled from memories of the ‘poison cock’ book – don’t worry. No beastiality, protobeastiality or even much interest in what the dragon is packing. In dragon form Tarn – the name he tends to use most with his human allies- isn’t really interested in that sort of thing. It is only when he dons human form that he experiences human desires – although then he experiences them with immediacy and enthusiasm. As both his human lover Ditt and his incarnate desert lover Gard can attest.
Tarn, built to heroic proportions, possessed of knowledge of the Shadow men of that age could match and a dragon that can call fire, is an intimidating figure. He is also oddly endearing and vulnerable, his apex predator assurance that he will get what he wants leavened by his loneliness and need.
It would have been easy for him to overshadow his love-interest, and in the first few chapters that does seem to be a danger. Bound to human form, not remembering who – or what – he is, Gard is dazzled and charmed by Tarn. However, his eager acquiescence to Tarn’s seduction never results in the relinquishment of his agency. Once he recovers snatches of his memory, the edges of his character crystallise and harden. He is more brittle, more believable.
The story unspools in a high-energy riot of zombies, magic and dragon fire. There are a few too many characters introduced – diluting the focus and slowing down the pace of the story – but it is still an enjoyable romp through a fun world with lots of potential. It will be fun to see how Durreson’s second foray into this world – Resistance – goes.