The Blind Dragon: A Tale from the Canon of Tarn

By Peter Fane

Rating: 3 stars

When I started reading this book, I wondered if I’d stumbled into something mid-series, as there was an awful lot of stuff just thrown at you, as if you should know about the civil war in this kingdom and what the political situation was. But from looking around online, this is Fane’s first novel, although I get the impression that he’s been building and telling stories in this world for a long time. Just regarding the physical book, when I picked it up, it looked like a good hefty, 450 page tome, but when I opened it, the whole thing is double-spaced, so it would probably be about half that size if it was more traditionally formatted.

The book tells a coming of age story, as Anna Dyer, an apprentice to the dragon riders of Dávanor has to overcome treachery from within her duchy with the aid of the newly hatched, blind dragon Moondagger, with whom she forms a bond.

The book keeps up the pace, with lots happening on a very frequent basis, but I’m not sure we really get enough time spent getting to know Anna to fully appreciate some of the more emotional beats in the story. The book is also very violent, with faces being bitten off, entrails ripped out and more. Maybe I’m just getting old, but that, and the culture of honour and violence that Anna (a fourteen year old girl) is embedded in seemed a bit over the top to me. But then I’m also at a point where swearing fealty to nobility and the feudal system seems like a terrible idea. As Monty Python so memorably put it: strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

Looking beyond that, though, despite a Surfeit of Capitalisation, the book is well-written and kept my attention all the way through. Coming out the end, I feel that I better understand the world. I was amused that in the chronology at the end, despite having a 12,000 year history, about 10,000 of those are just marked at “the plague years”. Sometimes I feel that writers throw around big numbers like that with abandon without really pausing to think about them. Science fiction is really bad for that, but fantasy can be too. I’d remind you that the whole of recorded human history, is barely 6000 years. We have literally no experience with any single organisation stretching half that length of time, never mind the tens of thousands that this book is bandying around.

Fun enough, although despite the book literally being called “The Blind Dragon”, the dragon’s blindness was barely a feature, beyond the first few pages, throwing in a magical workaround in passing. As I say, an entertaining way to spend a few hours, but I’ll not be looking out the sequels.

Book details

ISBN: 9781944296025
Publisher: Silver Goat Media

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