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Memory of Flame
Stephen Deas
Gollancz, 368, 396 and 340 pages
Volume 1 The Adamantine Palace
Volume 2 The King of Crags
Volume 3 The Order of Scales

 

The Adamantine Palace
Stephen Deas
Stephen Deas was born in Southeast England, in 1968, and mostly brought up in a town full of retired colonels. He has, at various times, been obsessed with mathematics, classical piano music, kung-fu, particle physics and Sid Meier's Civilisation (the original).

Stephen Deas Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Thief-Taker's Apprentice

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dominic Cilli

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The King of Crags
The Order of Scales
Stephen Deas, with the publication of The Order of Scales, has completed his first fantasy series and there is much to enjoy here. Memory of Flame is nothing ground-breaking and it's a fast easy read with a blackness to it that fans of dark fantasy like myself will find irresistible and quite enjoyable.

The premise for the series is that the world is full of dragons and they have been placated to the point of domestication and serve man as creatures of war. The taming of the world's dragons is accomplished through the use of a special potion which keeps the creatures in check. Deas has created an entire section of society completely devoted to dragons and dragon care. First, we have the alchemists which are the most important people in his world because they hold the secret to the creation of the potions that are administered to the dragons to keep them docile. Without these potions, the dragons will eventually return to their feral state which is one that places them a wee bit higher on the food chain than human beings. Then we have the scales that are charged with the day to day care of the dragons. They are called scales because they often contract a disease that begins turning their skin into something approximating dragon scales. Amidst, this premise Deas gives us the more mundane story of a kingdom with various factions all vying for power within the realm. We all know what that entails and we get the typical amount of plotting, lying and backstabbing that usually goes with this sort of fantasy storyline.

If you decide to go ahead and read this series you'll find that the plot, the characters and the world building while all being well done, all play second fiddle to the real stars of this series, the dragons. If you are one of those people obsessed with dragons, you'll not want to miss this series, unless of course you only like your dragons depicted as loyal, lovable, honorable and dutiful. If that is the case, you'll probably want to look elsewhere, perhaps Naomi Novak or Anne McCaffrey would better suit your taste. However, if you like your dragons vicious, arrogant, telepathic and hell-bent on plucking your limbs off for an appetizer before moving on to your torso as the entrée, you'll definitely want to check out Memory of Flame.

Overall, the books are most often described as quick reads and that is correct. Whether you view that as a positive or a negative is all about your taste and reading preferences. If you don't want to get bogged down in overly complex BFF and like your fantasy on the dark side you're going to really enjoy Stephen Deas. On the other hand, if multilayered novels with interwoven plotlines and dozens of characters are your thing you may find the Memory of Flame saga a little too simplistic and abrupt. I for one like both styles, if they are well written. And yes, Memory of Flame is well written. I would like to see what the future holds for Stephen Deas. If he were to really apply himself and expand the scope of his work his name may appear next to some of the truly great fantasy writers that call the UK home.

Copyright © 2011 Dominic Cilli

When asked to write a third-person tag line for his reviews, Dominic Cilli farmed the work out to an actual 3rd person, his friend Neal, who in turn turned it over to a second person who then asked his third cousin to help out and this person whom Dom doesn't even know then wrote in 8th person Omniscient mode "Dom's breadth of knowledge in literature runs the gamut and is certainly not bounded by the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. One thing I can say with certainty is that of all the people I don't know who've ever recommended books to read, Dom's recommendations are the best.


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