Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: A Guile of Dragons by James Enge

A Guile of Dragons
Author:  James Enge
Series:  A Tournament of Shadows 1
Publisher:  Pyr, August 24, 2012
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $17.95 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-61614-628-3 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher
Cover Illustration: © Steve Stone

It's dwarves vs dragons in this origin story for Enge's signature character, Morlock Ambrosius!

Before history began, the dwarves of Thrymhaiam fought against the dragons as the Longest War raged in the deep roads beneath the Northhold. Now the dragons have returned, allied with the dead kings of Cor and backed by the masked gods of Fate and Chaos.

The dwarves are cut cut off from the Graith of Guardians in the south. Their defenders are taken prisoner or corrupted by dragonspells. The weight of guarding the Northhold now rests on the crooked shoulders of a traitor’s son, Morlock syr Theorn (also called Ambrosius).

But his wounded mind has learned a dark secret in the hidden ways under the mountains. Regin and Fafnir were brothers, and the Longest War can never be over...

Brannigan's Review

A Guile of Dragons is not your everyday fast-food fantasy book. James Enge writes full-course meal fantasy, and it should be appreciated as such. For anyone looking for a quick and easy hack and slash story, don't be fooled by the page count. Enge packs in a lot of depth and care in a short amount of pages. Now, please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to frighten anyone off from reading this engaging and thoughtful book. In fact, I think it's the perfect blend of original ideas, beautiful prose and action. It's a book I found myself taking my time feasting on.

Even though this is not the first book we find Morlock Ambrosius in, it is the beginning of Morlock's story, so don't worry if you haven't read the first series by Enge. Enge excels in the way he gives familiar races an interesting connection and/or twist from the run-of-the-mill fantasy. He also likes to play with the idea of magic and spirituality that I found captivating. I also appreciated the fact that the book feels complete after reading it. A lot of series treat the first book as a tease to the main story, leaving too many unanswered questions as a tool to get the reader to buy the next book, but Enge leaves the reader fulfilled. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

A Guile of Dragons is a solid foundation to the origins of Morlock Ambrosius. It is well suited for a reader that enjoys taking their time reading a book and thinking about the questions the author raises. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking for a quick easy book to read on the beach. I would recommend it to young adults and adults. It's perfect for fantasy fans that like to read a series story with new ideas. I'd also recommend it to anyone that likes literary fiction as a bridge to the fantasy genre.


  1. I'm a big fan of the Morlock books, and it was interesting to finally get his "origin story". And the Dwarf-Dragon war is aces

  2. I agree, I can't wait to read the other books in the new series.