I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Sleeping Dragon was an entertaining and pretty clever piece of writing.
When the author approached me to offer a review copy, I checked out the blurb as I usually would, and was intrigued by the premise of a five hundred-year old world-ending prophecy being brought into play in the modern world where “heroes” were obsolete. I’ve yet to read a fantasy novel where a prophecy revealed during medieval times was to be dealt with in an urban setting.
The story started with a Prologue that described the first part of the book’s blurb. Five great heroes of their age – a warrior, a thief, a wizard, a bard and a priest – which make up your typical D&D adventuring party, discovered that the Sleeping Dragon which will awake in five hundred years and destroy the world. Very shortly after, the story moved to the current day where we were introduced to five unconnected individuals who were, in the ordinary course of their day, suddenly whisked away and brought together to a single location by a magic spell.
A glossary that was made available after the Prologue gave a glimpse of what happened to magic in the modern day. It became the essence of technology. Mana was the raw power of magic, and it was also the energy that powered gadgets – those that we know of as televisions, smartphones, cars and flying vehicles – called crystals, whispers, wagons and carpets respectively in this world. I thought this was quite cool and rather clever. Effectively, it combined both fantasy and science fiction into a fun-filled adventure reminiscent of an RPG, albeit in a modern high-tech setting.
Interesting world and magic aside, this was a story of an ensemble cast of characters who were the modern ‘not-quite-equivalent-but-close-enough’ representation of olden days’ heroes. Blade, a famous AdventureSports warrior; Dani, a female grifter; Darrick, a priest; the Storm, a rock star lutist; and Presto, a disgraced ex-wizard. A group of misfits who were way over their head in understanding why and what brought them together, and how they were supposed to be the heroes the world didn’t know it needed.
For an ensemble cast in a stand-alone book, I thought that the author did a great job in fleshing out the main characters as much as he possibly could in just over 300 pages. You won’t get truly in-depth character development, but it was more than adequate to make me root for them. Combined with its decent pacing, this novel was an enjoyable read.
I also enjoyed the writing, which was humourous, casual yet polished, and effortless to read. The dialogue and banter felt natural, and the action scenes were exciting and easy to visualise. There were also numerous references to our own modern day culture with some social commentary to boot, which were handled with a light touch — more for having a good laugh at ourselves instead of a philosophical lecture.
All in all, The Sleeping Dragon was a great stand-alone that was fun and concluded satisfactorily. If you love urban fantasy and science fiction, but want something different and comical, I recommend giving this book a go.