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Dragonfrigate Wizard Halcyon Blithe by James M. Ward
Review by Paul Haggerty
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0765312549
Date: 28 November, 2006 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

And Halcyon comes from a long line of sorcerers. Capable of seeing into the heart of rope, he can instantly tell where stress points or weaknesses are forming, and since a good portion of a ship is still bound up in ropes, this ability is much sought after. Add in the ability to speak with dragons, and Halcyon would appear to be on a fast track within the ranks of the navy. Except for the enemies he's made while doing his duty to King and Country. And the fact the somewhere in his family's past, their sorcerers consorted with demons and added a bit of their DNA to the family gene pool. While this might come in handy under certain circumstances, demons are universally despised and hated, as are those that deal with them. Having such an ancestry is sure to provide ample leverage for those with an axe to grind. And did I mention those enemies he's made?

The first part of the book wraps up the consequences of the end of the previous novel and then sets the stage for the next step in Halcyon's career. Promoted to the Dragonfrigate Rage (built out of the sea dragon, Sort ... I guess nobody bothered to ask him his name before the christening), Halcyon is part of a diplomatic mission to deliver the new ambassador to the Dwarven Empire. It would be ideal if his most hated enemy hadn't just been promoted above him, and assigned to the same ship. But nobody said life was fair, or easy, and Halcyon is just going to have to keep both eyes open, perhaps even especially while he sleeps.

The majority of the book is a good old fashion fantasy romp, with the backdrop of a Horatio Hornblower fitted around it. There are plenty of sea battles with enemy ships and sea monsters. Then there's the most deadly combat of all, diplomacy. And to make matters worse representatives of their arch-enemies, the Maleen Empire appear to be there ahead of them. An alliance between the Maleen and the dwarves would be absolutely disastrous, and can certainly not be allowed to take place. Of course they can tell the dwarves how treacherous and evil the Maleen are, but then they're know to be enemies, why would they be believed, especially when the Maleen can spin tales of their own? In the end, words are of little use, and deeds will need to carry the day.

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