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Rex Draconis: Lords of the Dragon Moon by Richard A. Knaak

Rex Draconis: Lords of the Dragon Moon by Richard A. Knaak
4.25
Book Name: Rex Draconis: Lords of the Dragon Moon
Author: Richard A. Knaak
Publisher(s): Hydra Publications
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: January 1, 2018

While Narnia and Middle Earth were my gateways to fantasy, the Dragonlance world of Weis and Hickman made me a fantasy reader for life. Adding to the core storyline was Richard Knaak, with his Dragonlance standalones. The Legend of Huma and Kaz the Minotaur have sat on my various shelves and spent brief sojourns packed away in boxes for nearly thirty years. Now, imagine how I geeked out when Knaak reached out and offered me an audiobook of Rex Draconis: Under the Dragon Moon to review.

Under the Dragon Moon is shorter in length, more novella than novel, with a 1980s classic fantasy feel. The worldbuilding feels based on Dungeons and Dragons, with elf mages, half-elf cavaliers, porcupine-like kender, and other recognizable character classes, as well as NPC monsters like werewolves. My first impression, as we are first introduced to the honorable minotaur Captain Rath, who belongs to an expanding maritime empire, was that Under the Dragon Moon was unoriginal in the way it borrows from established tropes—however, when we take into account that Knaak helped created that trope in his Dragonlance books, it’s more like how Edward Zwick plagiarized his own scenes from Glory into The Last Samurai (check out the target practice scene and first battle in the mist in both movies!).

The rest of the main characters come from different walks of life: the elf maiden Kaldara, the young knight Eric, the half-elf knight Aylin, and a Gandalf-like mentor figure Amble. The cross-cultural misconceptions and miscommunication help drive the story with otherwise avoidable interpersonal conflicts.

The central conflict, however, is unavoidable. What starts with Rath retreating from a lost battle with the Wheyrs and teaming up with Erik turns out to be part of a larger struggle. All sides are just pawns in a Jedi-Sith-like proxy war between dragon-like beings known as the Fafne and Afafne. It’s a game of shifting alliances and deceptions.

The writing also feels like classic 1980s fantasy, which falls somewhere between omniscient and limited point of view. It doesn’t lend for getting deep inside the characters’ heads, but it does allow the reader to know what a lot of characters are thinking and give a broader view of the larger plot. The style is economical but visually vibrant. It makes for a brisk, perhaps sometimes too brisk, pace.

The premise, plot, and worldbuilding make for a fun ride, and the writing style evoked a sense of nostalgia for the days when I was a teenager, waiting in line outside of Waldenbooks for the next Dragonlance novel to come out. With that in mind, I rate Rex Draconis: Under the Dragon Moon 8.5 stars.

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