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The Ring of Five Dragons
Eric Van Lustbader
Tor Books, 576 pages

Keith Parkinson
The Ring of Five Dragons
Eric Van Lustbader
Eric Van Lustbader is the author of numerous bestsellers, including The Ninja, White Ninja and French Kiss. This epic fantasy series, The Pearl, starts off with The Ring of Five Dragons. Eric Van Lustbader lives on the South Fork of Long Island, New York.

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SF Site Excerpt: The Ring of Five Dragons

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Wayne MacLaurin

Years and years ago, I picked up a series of books collectively called The Sunset Warrior Trilogy. Interesting thing... there were four books. The Sunset Warrior, Shallows of Night, Dai-San, and Beneath an Opal Moon told an intriguing story set in a post-apocalyptic world that blended elements of traditional fantasy, hard science fiction and eastern philosophy. It was thoroughly enjoyable and remarkably different from most of the other stuff I was reading at the time.

After four astonishingly good books (the trilogy was eventually renamed a "sequence"), Eric Van Lustbader dropped out of sight to the speculative fiction crowd and wrote mainstream novels; in fact he's written over 20 bestsellers. Ninja, Jian, The Kaisho and others did extremely well. But now, Eric Van Lustbader has re-entered the genre with a new series that starts with The Ring of Five Dragons.

It is an ambitious tale that centres on the conflict between a technologically advanced, space-faring race, the V'ornn, and the Kundalan, a spiritual race, subject to the latest V'ornn colonization. The Ring of Five Dragons sets up the story and introduces the main characters for what promises to be a complex and involved series.

The tale begins by introducing the two races and two sets of characters: Giyan and Bartta are Kundalan twin sisters who are both Ramahan priestesses (Ramahan being the predominant religion of the Kundalan people -- at least as we are introduced to it); Kurgan and Annon are two V'ornn youths on the verge of manhood. The tale quickly tears itself into a frenzy of sub-plots and twisted misdirection as it is gradually revealed that the Kundalan may be considerably more advanced than they appear. The spiritual influences of the Ramahan are unlike anything the V'ornn have encountered before and, in many cases, the "magic" seems be a match for V'ornn technology.

For the most part, the story follows Annon's journey of discovery of the Kundalan spiritual legacy and Kurgan's rise in the ranks of the V'ornn. A startling amount of story is concluded within the first novel, hinting that the tale being told is much larger than what has been shown. Van Lustbader blends the theme of duos and pairs time and again throughout the novel. Whether it's Annon and Kurgan, Giyan and Bartta or V'ornn and Kundalan, the theme repeats itself with an effortlessness that makes the novel both an excellent story and a well written one.

Other elements of the novel are equally engaging. The Gyrgon, rulers of the V'ornn, are technomages, users of technology so incredibly advanced that it appears to be magic. We are given some glimpses into their role in the plot but only enough to whet your appetite for more. Similarly, through the Kundalan Ramahan, we are introduced to daemons and dragons. It's going to be most interesting to see how Van Lustbader manages to blend technology with the more fantastical elements of his tale.

Although I did find the book tough in the beginning, the effort was well worth it. The tale is ultimately engaging, massive in scope and hints at an even larger expanse. I'm sure the series will continue to attract the attention it deserves.

Copyright © 2001 Wayne MacLaurin

Wayne MacLaurin is a regular SF Site reviewer. More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

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