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Dragon Ultimate
Christopher Rowley
Roc Books, 373 pages

Art: Eric Peterson
Dragon Ultimate
Christopher Rowley
Christopher Rowley was born to an American mother and an English father. He soon began traversing the Atlantic, being educated in the US, Canada, and (for the most part) at Brentwood School, Essex, England. He became a London-based journalist in the 70s, then moved to New York in 1977. His first SF novel, The War for Eternity, was awarded the Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award for best first novel in 1983.

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Christopher Rowley Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

Although I had read the first 4 books in the Bazil Broketail series, I've been a bit lax in keeping up with the remainder of the series. So I decided to take a look at Dragon Ultimate, the 7th and final book. Here's a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the series: the books follow the exploits of Bazil Broketail and Relkin of Quosh. Bazil Broketail is a battledragon -- one of the 2-ton intelligent wyverns of the Legions of Argonath, trained to wear armour and wield huge steel swords in combat. Relkin of Quosh is his dragonboy, in charge of caring for Bazil and maintaining his equipment. At the beginning of this book, they have been in the Legions for 7 years, having had a series of incredible adventures.

Dragon Ultimate opens with the duo separated. Relkin is travelling back from the Isles of Cunfshon, where the witches of the Office of Unusual Insight have been studying him. It seems that Relkin has some unusual, unexplainable powers that manifest in response to danger and extreme need. The witches have their own ideas regarding who and what Relkin is, but they choose not to share that information with him. The witches must give him up, though, because Relkin must return to Marneri to stand trial. Relkin has made some powerful enemies over the years and they have trumped up charges over some plunder that Relkin claimed in an earlier campaign. Meanwhile, Bazil is already in Marneri, tolerating a substitute dragonboy until Relkin returns.

Bazil and Relkin's joyful reunion is cut short by disaster, however, as a plague hits the city. When the same plague arises in city after city, it becomes clear to the authorities that someone is helping the plague spread.

Dragon Ultimate nicely finishes off the Bazil Broketail series, but you won't appreciate that if you haven't read the rest of the books. Dragon Ultimate leaps right in and doesn't look back. Even having read the first 4 books of the series, I was bit lost after only 10 pages. Obviously a lot happened in the 5th and 6th books, A Dragon at World's End and The Dragons of Argonath. Nevertheless, Rowley writes in an easy, flowing style that will quickly immerse you in the story. There are bits of humour scattered in amongst the battles and mayhem to lighten up the book(s). Relkin is the good, reluctant hero who is just trying to put his time in the Legions and then start a leisurely life as a farmer when his stint is up. While capable of speech and a reasonable amount of logical thinking, the battledragons play the role of large, good-natured, dimwitted soldiers. They take orders fairly well but often don't consider the consequences of their actions.

Followers of the series will definitely want to pick up Dragon Ultimate as it finishes off the series. I have to admit, however, that I enjoyed the earlier books in the series more than this one. The first books focused more on the relationship between Relkin and Bazil and on their adventures in the Legions. The final books, of necessity, have become more complicated to keep reader's interest in the series. You might argue that this is a consequence of the maturing characters in the books and to a certain extent, I would have to agree. But part of the appeal of the first books in the Bazil Broketail was the naïveté of Relkin as he joined the Legions. I would encourage you to pick up Bazil Broketail, the first book in the series and give it try. If you enjoy it, the series is complete and you won't have to wait years to read the rest...

Copyright © 1999 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.

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