||I have absolutely no recollection of this book. When
I was reading it, I expected images to pop up from the first time I read
it, but nothing did. It's as if I never read this book before. And after
completing it, I think I understand why. Arianus is my least favorite
world. Limbeck and the Gegs are some of my least favorite characters. I
even have trouble with Hugh the Hand, unfortunately.
On the other hand, I do very much like Haplo. I like
the way he has become more cautious, more mature through the books. So I
did enjoy the first few chapters, which took place in the Nexus. It is
here that he finds the dragon-snakes from Chelestra, in the form of
Patryns. I find it interesting that in all of the books by this author,
the evil super-powers take an active role in creating chaos, while the
forces of good do nothing, confident that their creations, whether
dwarf, elf or human, will prevail and make them stronger. Here it is no
different. The dragon-snakes move into Arianus, becoming dwarves, elves
and humans, though I find it strange that they would need to aid this
world in becoming more war-like.
Haplo leaves his Sartan cell on Chelestra, and finds
that the dragon-snakes have left. When he gets to the Nexus, he finds
that his master, Xar, has already allied himself with them, thinking he
is stronger than them. He also meets Zifnab again, answering the call of
the Sartan from the end of Serpent Mage. His dragon reminds him where he
put his hat, of course. Zifnab also knows that Haplo has a son in the
Labyrinth, something that Haplo knows in his heart to be true.
So when he is traveling to Arianus with Bane, he is
always thinking about rescuing his son. On Arianus, they find that the
Kicksey-Winsey has stopped; Haplo surmises it is because of the opening
of Death's Gate. But the dwarves think the elves have sabotaged the
machine, while the elves think the dwarves did it. The dragon-snakes are
promoting both views. While on Drevlin, Haplo, Limbeck, Bane and Jarre
find an automaton, which doesn't know what to do with the machine. Bane
thinks it will take years to turn it on!
Meanwhile, the elves come searching for them, and capture Haplo and
Jarre, thanks to Sang-drax, a red-eyed dragon snake in the form of an
elf. They are brought up to the elven lands, where Bane charms even the
elven king, who is losing his war on two fronts -against the dwarves and
the rebel prince who was turned against his father due to a magical
human song. Bane plots to use his mother to put him on the throne.
From here, we get back to Hugh the Hand and Iridal,
Bane's real mother, and I got a little bored with the story. I would
take breaks from reading of days at a time, not really caring what
happened next. Obviously, from the rating I gave this book years ago, I
loved it then. But now, I found it to be bogged down with exposition,
explaining the history of a segment of the population or region which
stopped the story flat.
Dragon Wing ended before we knew the true fate of
everybody in the High Realms. In Fire Sea, I complained that Alfred had
not committed any necromancy, because Bane was not dead when he saved
him. Of course, I didn't remember from last time reading this book that
Hugh had died in the battle against the mysteriarch, and Alfred
resurrected him. But apparently Alfred did a better job of it than all
the Sartan on Aberrach, because Hugh is not a lazar nor a walking dead.
Or is it just because he is a human, and those on Aberrach were Sartan?
Either way, his soul, which has seen the land of the dead, is more
valuable to the elves than any they currently have.
So Hugh leaves his self-imposed exile among the Kir monks
and travels with Iridal to the Assassin's guild, where he unknowingly
meets a dragon-snake in human form. They travel to the elven lands in
disguise, and go to the mysterious soul-keeping elves, the Kenkari. Once
Hugh promises to give his soul to them, they help him enter the palace
to rescue Bane. But Sang-drax has other ideas, of course, and so does
Bane. He plans to kill his "parents", Stephen and Anne, and put himself
on the throne. Iridal is captured, Haplo nearly killed by the
dragon-snakes, and Hugh is forced to take Bane to the King and Queen,
with a threat to Iridal's life (because he loves the woman).
The plot gets complicated, but I found it to be the
most interesting part of the novel. I enjoyed the segments among the
elves the most, and the Kenkari in particular to be some of the best
characters in this book. They manage to defeat the dragon-snakes by
being free of fear and anger, and they save Haplo in that manner, and
rescue Iridal. They then summon a huge mystical dragon, which takes
Haplo down to where Jarre is held hostage on a dragonship to Drevlin,
and Iridal to save the King and Queen. Incidentally, the Kenkari give
Haplo a book written by the Sartan on how to start the Kicksey-Winsey!
Bane actually gets all the way to Stephen and Anne, but
Hugh fails to kill the King. Bane stabs Stephen instead, but not
fatally. Iridal is forced to kill Bane. More interesting was the chaos
that reigned on Drevlin, as the dwarves took up arms against the elves,
but joined together with each other and human slaves to fight the
dragon-snakes as Haplo revealed their true forms.
Through it all, I enjoyed Haplo, except that he lost more
magical battles than he won. I don't really see the need for the
dragon-snakes in this story at all, except to keep Haplo from using his
magic. Haplo is now fully committed to betraying his master, and I think
he finally realizes that he can't return to Xar. He often thinks of his
family in the Labyrinth, which is something the Patryns typically don't
do, at least are not supposed to. He even thinks of Alfred, realizing
that the Sartan who he hated for three books had a more complete view of
the world than he did, though he thought he knew all the answers.
It's unfortunate that this book, too, ends on a
cliff-hanger, just like the last one. Hugh tries to give his life to the
Kenkari, but they know he has made another deal, with Bane, to kill
Haplo. I have trouble believing the Assassin's guild would consider this
verbal contract to be official, especially since the originator is dead,
and there is no way payment could ever be made. It sounds like a
contrivance either by the spirits or by the authors to keep Hugh around
and have him do some dirty work.
With five books completed, it is now time to move on
to the Labyrinth, and to visit more than one world per book. I look
forward to seeing the worlds in action, now that we understand how much
they are actually intertwined. The seventh book, of course, will take us
to that beautiful paradise that Haplo sees in the images of Death's
gate, the one he cannot identify, and which seems unlikely to have been
in the original design.