On a fantasy world Tolkienesque to the point of cliché, the five greatest adventurers of the age discover that in five hundred years, the Sleeping Dragon will awake and destroy civilisation.
But prologue aside, this is not their story.
This is a story from a half millennium later, in a world now so utterly transformed by mass-produced magic that it seems heroism itself is rendered obsolete, in which five misfits find themselves tasked with preventing the plague, war, famine, and destruction that the Sleeping Dragon will bring forth.
From the towering spires of Empire City to the wild and bleak Eastern Territories, and from the decadence and glamour of Upabove to a final confrontation upon which rests the fate of their world, this is their story.
The Sleeping Dragon is a comedic fantasy novel which plays with the tropes and assumptions that come with the fantasy genre in clever and amusing ways.
While it has become almost a bit of a cliché for the magic in fantasy worlds to “fade away” before reaching modern times, The Sleeping Dragon does the opposite. It imagines a modern world where magic is very much alive and kicking, and is used to fuel the technology of the time. Cars, televisions, mobile phones… they all have their magical equivalent.
When the eponymous sleeping dragon is set to destroy the world, five heroes are chosen (much to their dismay) to save it. This makes up our core of main characters, who loosely correspond to traditional tabletop character archetypes such as wizard, bard, priest, etc., though with a bit of a humorous twist.
I found that the characters weren’t explored in much depth. They all have their own personalities and backstories, some of which are more touching than others, but I didn’t really ever get the feeling that the characters were the focus of the story. Instead, the focus is very much on the comedy.
The Sleeping Dragon delights in the absurdity of its premise. We’re talking about a book which features over-enthusiastic orc lap-dancers and a religion where people spend the entirety of their lives in a “sacred box”. It pokes fun at any number of ridiculous scenarios, but in a manner that is generally more lighthearted than cruel. The sense of humour felt very British to me (as someone who has spent far too much of his life watching old British sitcoms) but still gives the impression of being very accessible.
The writing style is clean and unobtrusive, never getting in the way of the story or the jokes. Comedy is often a very subjective thing, but I did catch myself smiling and chuckling a couple of times throughout, even if I didn’t laugh out loud.
To sum everything up, this is a book to read if you catch yourself in need of a simpler, lighter read, or in need of a chuckle. It may not be for you if you’re looking for a more serious read with complex themes and characters, but I imagine that in today’s climate… this could be the type of book that many people are looking for.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.