The last time we took a look at a book from Jordan Loyal Short, it was the third book of a trilogy (reviewed here) that took Norse mythology and spread it across the cosmos. This time, we’re going from SciFi and back to a world of swords-and-sorcery fantasy, with City in the Dragon’s Eye.
With fantasy books – at least the ones I’ve found myself reading as of late – a major way that they can differentiate themselves is via the way magic works in the world. In City in the Dragon’s Eye, we’re introduced to the idea of the wells of power that people can tap into. Those who can tap into, say, the Dragon’s Well, are unable to use the power from a different well. Each well creates its own effects, and results in different things happening.
One thing that happens is when people draw too much power from a well, they can end up with a tumor of sorts (this resulted in one of my favorite phrases in the book: archanomorphic tumor genesis). They have different effects, and the first character we meet starts to develop these, taking the form of dragon scales on his arm.
The thing is, tumorlings (as these people are called) are shunned by everyone, turning Viktor (that first character) into a wanderer. Until he meets a Doktor Oberman who wants to help him. Viktor thinks this means being cured of the tumors, but as the story unfolds, we find that the good Doktor has other plans in mind for Viktor.
As with the Dreadbound Ode books, Short makes use of several different characters, each with their own stories that trundle along, sometimes glancing against other characters, and at other times becoming fully enmeshed with one another. We meet others like Devin, a man who’s been riding on his powerful father’s coattails. There’s also Izola, a professor at the college who realizes some very interesting things in the history of the town that they’re all in. These are the main three, and then there are other characters that pop in, including the ruling council of the city, which is (without spoiling things) a group of the most powerful well-users that basically run things.
It’s against this backdrop that there’s an undercurrent of what Doktor Oberman is attempting to do. He’s part of a shadowy group called the Thule Society, who is (minor spoiler) trying to put dragons – and those who can tap the Dragon Well – back into a position of power in the world. Given the German-themed names for people and places, it’s not surprising that we have allusions to 1940s Germany happening in the story as it unfolds.
I found City in the Dragon’s Eye a fun ride, and given the very cliff-hanger ending to the book, I remain hopeful that there will be at least one more book in this cycle. If this sounds like an interesting book for you, it was just released today. You can get the book over on Amazon ($0.99 on Kindle or $14.99 in paperback), and keep up with the author over at jordanloyalshort.com