This month’s book review is very special to me, as it will be about the very first english novel I ever read. In this installment of By the Book, I will be reviewing “Hammer and Axe” from the Dragonlance collection, written by Bestselling Author, Dan Parkinson.
I originally purchased this novel when came out in the early 90’s as part of my “English as a Second Language” class in high school. Being a fan of Fantasy Fiction, the large majority of the books I purchased were of Knights, Wizards and Dragons. Dwarves are among my favorite characters in Fantasy Fiction, so when I saw a novel that focused on their lifestyle, I was intrigued. Regardless of having read this book nearly twenty-five years ago, I was surprised to see just how much I remembered from this story. This strikes me as an important fact, that a story has visuals that are so strong, they stay with the reader for a long time (more on that later).
This work of fiction takes place in Thorbardin, a part of the world of Ergoth governed by Dwarves. When a group of wizards are found trespassing on their land in the hopes of building a magical tower, the dwarves are forced to react. To make matters worse, the wizards inadvertently awaken an ge old beast that was slumbering deep underneath the mountains. Along the way, we get to see how the Dwarven society works, their politics with surrounding human towns, their lineage and what makes differentiates them from other species.
Back of the Book:
As the hill dwarves mix successfully with the outside world, they find that enemies lie both within and without, disrupting the fragile political balance and drawing the clans into the territorial wars between the humans and elves.
The humans of Ergoth continue to encroach upon Thorbardin, but the worst threat to the dwarven fortress comes from a mysterious fog-beast and a covetous wizard. A Cobar, a kender, and a giant raptor add to the confusion as the dwarves are faced with wizards who command not only the forces of magic but thousands of mercenaries as well. And, unknown to the dwarves who valiantly fight the invaders, the beast has already claimed Thorbardin as it's own.
What I learned
- Dwarf lifestyle: The author went into incredible detail about Dwarves and what makes them different from other races. The story does an incredible job of showcasing their society, ideology and history. Parkinson successfully demonstrates that dwarves aren’t just short people, they are as much a fantasy being than elves or hobbits. A particular trait I found amusing, is the dwarfs ability to resist magic out of sheer stubbornness. It makes for a few good laughs in the story.
- Strong visuals: There are a few moments in the story where the author creates a strong visual to help emphasize some of the themes. This not only helps the reader grasp the story, but it cements the story in the reader's mind. My favorite example is the scene which happens to be depicted on the cover. Two dwarves get into an argument over which is the better weapon; the hammer of the axe. The two go into a friendly battle to prove their point. The argument, which was spent exchanging blows for a full day and night, ended in a draw. This scene helps show the reader just how stubborn and resilient dwarves are.
- Rules of magic: Like I mentioned in my previous article about using magic as a plot device, it is important to establish clear rules on how it works, and to stay true to them. The author succeeds in demonstrating how his rules for magic work, by showing how the dwarves react to magic. By remaining constant in his descriptions, Parkinson helps keep the reader's sense of immersion,
The late Daniel Edward Parkinson (March 19, 1935 – May 10, 2001), known as Dan Parkinson, was an American author who authored over 40 books, including bestsellers in four different categories; naval fiction, westerns, science fiction and fantasy.
For those interested in reading more books from Dan Parkinson, please check out these following websites:
Furthermore, if anyone is interested in reading more books from the Dragonlance collection, please go to their website here:
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Until next time!