Title: Anáil Dhragain: (Dragon’s Breath) (The Pendhragains #1)
Author: Stephan Knox
Publisher: TPS Publishing
Release Date: March 31, 2018
Genre(s): Epic, Historica Fantasy
Page Count: 1100 pages
Reviewed by: Maya
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Serving as a Brittunculi Legionnaire in the very occupation he hates the most, Trystian has yet to labour through some of the hardest lessons of life.
Fourteen years of his youth have been conscripted by the deceitful Legatus Legionis Gallus through impossible choices forced upon him; that time is gone, but now, so are the Romans. Free after so long, Trystian’s only desire is to go home— to the family he fears has been destroyed, even after he’d remained dutifully under the regime, and to the one with whom he left his heart.
In a time when so few dare to pray to her any longer, he hopes his devotion to his Goddess is strong enough to wake her from the slumbers of abandonment, so that she may see him through his ultimate and most brutal path yet ahead. The one that will finally return him home. It is this journey, at the most dismal point in his life, that forces him to reconcile with his past, and make peace with the choices that had been made for him long ago.
It’d started when he’d been a young man, struggling with how to contain his discontent of the Roman occupation of Briton so as not to shame his father. Nevertheless, not even the receding Roman reign had come soon enough for Trystian. But back home in Penrith, Cumbria, the ominous Roman presence wasn’t the only thing that caused Trystian a troubled mind. As a young man coming of age, he found there were some things he didn’t have in common with other young men, and an encounter with a secret Welsh noble with exotic eastern features both terrified and excited Trystian. However, life for Trystian wasn’t just his own or simple enough for him to have the time he had wished for to explore. Such feelings, stirring within him— they remained untouched as he was tutored and conditioned to be something greater for their people and the family’s future.
After all the misfortune and misery of the past, Trystian now forges towards a future he never once imagined as his fate. For the Goddess never truly abandons her children born from the blessed rites of the Calan Mai.
For Trystian Pendragon isn’t just high born, he is Sliocht na Péiste— “born of the dragon”— and his future belongs to the Goddess and to the destiny of the royal Pendragon bloodline. Survive it all, and the Goddess Morrighan just might bless him with a reunified bond he’d once made within the Anáil Dhragain.
Considering the length of the book it’s not surprise that plot moves at slow and lumbering pace. There is a lot of background and clearly a huge amount of research. It’s lucky there is a glossary of terms used otherwise I would have needed a specialized dictionary for reading. If you’re familiar with Arthurian myths you’ll find known names and characters cropping up here and there. It’s not a reimaging of Arthurian myths: or rather, it has its own unique flavor.
The author paid a lot of attention to details interweaving the story with flashes of premonition and hints of future entanglements. The story switches between two timeliness and they merge in curious mixture that manages to be both tantalizing and exciting. The scenes are elaborate and long winded. Storyline meanders about, arranging events like pieces of giant puzzle. All players are carefully introduced and the story more than holds its own. It’s a fantasy in truest sense of the word: a young man’s journey into adulthood incorporating mythical elements and historical setting. There are detailed battle scenes, heavy dose of mysticism and emotional toll war produces. The fate is not kind to the young hero, but he does get his happy ending. It’s hard giving a summary of the plot because it spans lot of time and events never let up.