Dragon Hunters, the second volume in Turner’s emerging series Chronicles of the Exile, was a very enjoyable read, and a much better book than When Heaven Falls. I liked When the Heavens Fall, but the second book gains by using the world building as a base.
The plot develops from the first but subtly and without the same charachters, and looking up something in the first book while I was reading this one gave me a hint at the outcome that I had completely missed at the time. A larger overall plot is coming together that will be played out in future novels (I hope.) There is individual combat, group combat, ships fighting dragons, mages fighting mages and more. Yet the combat in some ways is not the key issue but the behind the scenes action and the events that they lead to is what is important.
The hero is a tad too wonderful in my opinion. Superb swordsman, powerful in his paranormal power, dashingly handsome etc.. but that is just a minor thing. There are so many plot lines going on you need a scorecard. The overall politics, backstabbing, emerging love story and maneuvering is also very clever and really makes me want to read the next book to see where he is going with this. I believe that many of the current characters will appear in that one.
The continued expansion and explanation of the pantheon of gods and immortals is very interesting and original and their actions are not always very clear, even when they are actively participating in the main events. While some of the gods resemble ones from other authors, which is fine because really how many ways can you portray Death? Others such as the Spider and the Chameleon are very unique.
It ends on a quasi cliff hanger. Or maybe more of just a hanging question. Does an individual represent a threat by his people or is he/she acting alone. There are plenty of other loose threads that remain unresolved or even addressed from the first book as well.
One interesting, a somewhat minor player, a police officer named Kempis Parr, strongly reminded me of Ankh-Morpork’s Finest, Sam Vimes. I wonder if it was intentional or if it is just my imagination since the police also resemble the watch in Night Watch? I wonder if this planet is balanced on the back of four elephants which are standing on a giant turtle swimming through space?
A very slight pet peeve I had with the book, actually it was with the book’s cover. Now in most books where magic is very prevalent and used for tasks ranging from sailing to medicine the societies are not very evolved. The same is true here. The story takes place in an almost landlocked inland sea and has a lot to do with sailing. Mages help the ships move along the oceans, avoiding dangerous areas and helping calm the seas, not always but there is a whole class called water mages. Now the ship on the cover looks like Horatio Hornblower would feel fairly comfortable. A three master fully rigged, and the big mistake, it has its cannon ports open. There are no cannons on this planet- at least that I am aware of.