4 out of 5
Blood of the Emperor is the final book in The Annuals of Drakis series. Having some victories under their belts the Army of the Prophecy wants more but it’s leaders are divided. Drakis just wants a peace where he can finally live his life on his terms. Jugar, Ethis, Soen, Belag and Lyric have their own agenda’s and alliances and these are what truly drives the plot line. In the end nothing is what it seems yet it all leads to a satisfying conclusion. Drakis starts out as the usual fantasy hero, someone seemingly normal who, through various events, is forced to either rise above or discover some hidden skill and become a leader. Hickman twists this usual scenario around making Drakis nothing more than a name being pulled in several different directions. The reader keeps waiting for that aha moment when Drakis steps forward and takes real control but the aha moment is not related to him and takes him as much by surprise as it does the reader. My only complaint would be I wish there had been more about Soen and his activities in Tjarlas rather than hearing it second hand. It is refreshing to read a complete story in just three novels and I look forward to more from Hickman.
4 out of 5
The second novel in The Annuals of Drakis continues the story of the former slave Drakis and his various companions. Lost in a strange world amid the ruins of the human’s once great civilization, the group makes their way to the Citadels of Light where they hope to find the magic to get home. South in the Rhonas Empire thousands of pilgrims venture north following the Belag, one of the original slaves, as he brings the message of Drakis to the world. Former inquisitor Soen joins the pilgrims as he attempts to find a way out of his own predicaments and use Drakis toward his own ends. Secrets are revealed that bring the reader closer to understanding what happened to between the humans and dragons and where the magic went. At the same time, more about the Elven empire and it’s people is divulged.
The descriptions give a full picture of this varied and interesting world. Just enough information into the complexities of Elven politics and society are given to keep the story interesting without bogging it down with too many details. Secrets are revealed a little at a time keeping the readers attention. One section that got a bit confusing was the battle on the Shrouded Plain. There is no explanation as to why Belag is able to gather everyone to him, why his sword shines. Yet it is a small section of the story that is not referenced again. The hero that doesn’t want to be a hero has been done quite a bit lately and Drakis is no exception, he only accepts his position when it becomes clear it will help them get home. Hickman has placed his hero into a plot that gives him few real choices but he still feels responsible for the lives of his companions. In the end we see a changed man. Looking forward to the next in the series.
4 out of 5
Many fantasy readers know Tracy Hickman from his collaborations with Margaret Weis on the Dragon Lance novels but he is on his own with this, The Annuals of Drakis, series. The book definitely has a Dragon Lance feel to it. The reader is immediately immersed within this world and it takes time and several chapters before much of the background story is explained. The theme of this first book is interesting, what happens when slaves forced each night to remember a false life and past suddenly remember. Drakis is an Impressed Warrior of a rural elven household, a rare human slave fighting with other slaves from a variety of races to win a war for the honor of his household. Through a series of events the nightly Devotions that elves use to force false memories on slaves are interrupted causing havoc and allowing Drakis and several other slaves to escape. The dwarf Jugar, a prisoner of war, opens Drakis’ eyes to his races past and the legends surrounding the song that plays constantly in Drakis’ mind. This song is a constant throughout the novel and the lyrics change to match what is occurring. Charged with bringing the slaves back, the Iblisi Interrogator Soen chases them through the country side, convinced there is no way he can fail. The writing style is much like the Dragon Lance novels, complex and interesting. There is a density to Hickman’s writing that gives the reader the feeling that they are reading something substantial. The novel is a definite recommend.