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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Dragon Waiting

Copyright 1983 by John M. Ford

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (3/5)

I first read this in 1987 and most recently on the 5th January 2015

In this alternate history the Byzantine Empire never died. It continued to the present day with its iron-fisted rule and its intrigues. It is a world where magic exists, where powerful magicians battle and vampires live and feed among us.

Our band of fellows come from all across Europe, escaping from the Empire's dangerous embrace, tThey come to serve Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the eventual Richard III, in his quest to become King over a united country. One of that band is a vampire. One is a wizard of undoubted power but who seeks to use it as sparingly as possible. Another is a woman physician previously with the Medicis. Another is a Greek, once an heir to the Byzantine throne but now a simple mercenary. This is a very detailed, slow but sure-footed adventure in a world where death is very close and love is scarce.

I have a lot of respect for this novel. I've read it twice and each time regretted that I didn't know more history. There's a lot of to know of course. I'm familiar with the epochs or at least some of them. There was the dinosaur age, then latterly the Iron Age, Bronze Age, Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the recent stuff. But you need to know a lot more about the middle ages. I'm English so of course I know my armour. I know about bassinets, cuirass and hauberks. I know about shortswords, longswords and broadswords. But I could never quite keep straight all the Edwards, Henrys and Richards. I think it would have helped me read this book without being constantly confused.

But still it is a very good book. It is a magnificent story of Richard III in his attempts to gain the throne and unite his country. You are swept along even as you long to throw down the book in revulsion at the grim and brutal world being described.

Loaded on the 29th March 2015.
Cover of The Dragon Waiting