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Spine of the Dragon: Wake the Dragon #1    by Kevin J. Anderson order for
Spine of the Dragon
by Kevin J. Anderson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kevin J. Anderson's Spine of the Dragon opens a new fantasy series, Wake the Dragon, set in a world where the Commonwealth of Three Kingdoms and Ishara have long been at war. It's said that the god Kur first created the wreth race, powerful in magic, and disappeared after commanding them to kill the dragon Ossus. Terrible wars followed between two factions of wreth and the human slaves they created to do their bidding. The wreth factions were believed to have exterminated each other. Millennia later, humans have built their own warring empires.

Young Adan Starfall is king of Suderra, one of the Three Kingdoms (Adan's father Conn is high king and his uncle Koll is king of Norterra). Adan's lovely wife Penda comes from the nomadic Utauk trader clans. Penda has a pet ska, Xar, scaled and the size of a falcon. Their castle borders the wastelands. As the story opens, a devastating sandstorm precedes the arrival at Adan's castle gates of a hundred sandwreths, led by Queen Voo. She demands that Adan's people join her in war with her enemies, the frostwreths. Meanwhile, frostwreths destroy a village in Norterra where Koll's beloved daughter and grandsons had been.

Ishara is ruled by Empra Iluris, who has trouble with Priestlord Klovus. On his own initiative, he leads a raid against Osterra, eastern kingdom of the Commonwealth. Priestlords create godlings, and can use them as weapons, once they've been fed a bloody sacrifice. Iluris does not want war. We also follow the adventures of Elliel, a disgraced Brava whose memories have been erased by a rune of forgetting, and who rescues a mysterious wreth. And then there's wild orphaned Utauk Glik, who wanders at will and has a key part to play.

Anderson interweaves these plot threads, with plenty of action, betrayals, and even some hope, to keep the story interesting. Then a mountain explodes and the dragon is awoken. Is it the end of all things, or will humans manage to unite against this overwhelming threat? We'll just have to wait for more books to find out.

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