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The Dragon Engine by Andy Remic

Five noble war heroes of Vagandrak get drunk one night and sign a contract – to journey to the Karamakkos in search of the Five Havens. There, it is written, there lies untold, abandoned wealth and, more importantly, the three Dragon Heads, legendary jewels claimed to give unspeakable power and everlasting life to those who wield them.

But the Dragon Heads aren’t what the adventurers think they are, and the world has not encountered their like in many, many generations!

A new Andy Remic novel is cause for much merriment here at The Eloquent Page. Here is an author who is consistently reliable when it comes to action packed, adult themed fantasy. I’ve been reading his work for years now, and when The Dragon Engine appeared on my Kindle I dived in with gusto.

Though set in the same world as The Iron Wolves and The White Towers this follows a completely different group of heroes. If you haven’t read those books then you won’t be at any disadvantage. That said, there are a few nods to both novels that eagle-eyed existing readers are likely to spot.

One of the things I always enjoy about Andy Remic’s writing is his vivid characterisation. You can always guarantee that the people you meet are never going to be boring. The Dragon Engine is no exception to that rule. Beetrax the axeman is great fun; brash, sometimes blustering, and a little bit past his prime, he is normally a gregarious sort that loves nothing more than wenching and drinking to excess. In his heart however, he longs for the call of battle. Violence and bloodlust sing to him at a near molecular level. He is never happier than when he is given the opportunity to indulge his darker side. The moments when Beetrax gets the opportunity to indulge his inner beserker are a bloodthirsty delight.  

The other heroes also get the opportunity to shine. The relationship Beetrax has with each member of his dysfunctional little warrior family are so well observed, in particular the constant back and forth with Talon the archer. The depth of feeling Beetrax has for Lillith, the group’s healer, are also deftly captured. In addition, there are Dake and Jonti, both experts with the blade and utterly besotted with one another. The final member of the group is Sakora, an enigmatic martial arts master who is as deadly as everyone else, even when she is unarmed.  

The second strand of the narrative follows the political infighting between Cardinal Skalg, religious leader of the Harborym dwarves, and King Irlax. Skalg in particular is a nasty piece of work. He will happily kill, torture or maim, if it mean he will get his own way. In a city-state where royalty and religion hold equal sway, a clash between these two powerful leaders is inevitable. As a reader, we get a front row seat watching a society beginning to implode upon itself.

When the dwarves and our heroes finally meet things don’t go well. What follows is vintage Remic.  A delicious deluge of death, destruction, torture, betrayal and more death. Remic has real flair when it comes to dragging his characters through the wringer. I think it is fair to say that things do get brutal, and occasionally even a little bleak, but it makes for a better story because of it.  

The Dragon Engine kicks off The Blood Dragon Empire series in fine style. As I’ve come to expect from Andy Remic, his fantasy has a raw, visceral edge that is difficult to beat. A word of warning to the more delicately natured amongst you. There is a good chance you’ll want to give this a miss. There are buckets of blood and some gloriously violent scenes. The language used by our heroes tends to be quite descriptive in a full-on adult 18 certificate sort of way as well. Personally I love it, but I can appreciate some readers don’t enjoy that sort of thing.   

How best to sum up The Dragon Engine then? A coterie of flawed heroes, a city of angry dwarves and a trio of dragons who could best be described as hard done by. The author brings his A-grade storytelling skills to bear and unveils a pacy, action driven plot that is easy to get completely engrossed in. I could wax lyrical about Andy Remic’s writing all day. It’s not difficult to waffle appreciatively about an author whose work you really enjoy. If you’ve never experienced Mr Remic’s work before, and you aren’t adverse to the odd beheading or two twelve, then I urge you to give this book a try. Hell, let’s be honest here, I’d say that for any book he’s written.

The Dragon Engine is published by Angry Robot and is available as an e-book from 1st September. A paperback edition will follow on the 3rd.  

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