The heroes of Dragonspawn Vengeance travel through time and space to defeat a dark magician before the end of the world.
In Thomas Rottinghaus’s fantasy novel Dragonspawn Vengeance, a pair of gun-toting warriors race to save their land from a cruel wizard.
Norland is a perilous place ruled by magic and terrorized by massive dragons. Here, Jacob is a warrior and enforcer for the magic elite; he’s capable of wondrous feats and has incredible gun skills. Jacob is also a Dragonspawn—a human who’s bonded with a dragon (in his case, vile Slagg). The bond keeps Slagg trapped; still, he attempts to persuade Jacob to free him.
Across the Norland, a cabal of displaced mages attempt difficult rituals in the hopes of containing a dark mage, Timon, before he can enact a plan to upend Norland. Jacob’s mentor, Luke, pursues Timon, but winds up in an alternate version of Norland that shares similarities with dystopian Earth, and that’s under the thumb of a vicious despot. While Jacob wrestles control of his body and fate with Slagg, Luke hunts across realities for the means of stopping Timon once and for all.
The world of Norland is fascinating, grim, and nightmarish. The dragons are massive; they loom over the landscape to the point that Luke and Jacob, though they’re experienced warriors, freeze and hide before them. There’s a sense of age and weight to everything, from the ancient weapons the warriors wield to the ancient lineages that the mages can trace back to. Most of the world building comes in short asides and passing references that accrue in the background as the action races forward.
Luke is fascinating as he grapples with the weight of his past and the burden of changing the future. He travels beyond Norland in pursuit of his goals and winds up in strange situations that he’s ill-equipped to handle. The modern realms confuse him, with their technology beyond his simple revolvers, but his steadfast determination to protect his land and his loved ones keeps him on a steady path. Most others are as engaging as he is; their back stories often link back to either Luke or Jacob, as with a retired Arizona sheriff whose ancestors were Luke’s Norland mentors. Their fast conversations are ably coupled with descriptions of their body language, resulting in tense and comedic scenes.
The book’s blend of fantasy elements with modern science fiction ones (and a touch of social commentary related to technology abuse, overcrowding, and the industrialization of the food industry) is compelling. The heroes of Dragonspawn Vengeance travel through time and space to defeat a dark magician before the end of the world.
John M. Murray
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