Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bitterwood by James Maxey


by James Maxey

Mass Market Paperback: 486 pages
Publisher: Solaris
First Released: 2007

Source: Bought on

Back Cover Description:
It is a time when powerful dragons reign supreme and humans are forced to work as slaves, driven to support the kingdom of the tyrannical ruler King Albekizan.

However, there is one name whispered amongst the dragons that strikes fear into the very hearts and minds of those who oppress the human race. Bitterwood. The last dragon hunter, a man who refuses to yield to the will of the dragons. A legend who is about to return, his arrow nocked and ready, his heart full of fiery vengeance...

Bitterwood plans to bring the dragons to their knees. But will he bring the remnants of the human race down with him?

This book is a traditional fantasy in theme, but it's set in a somewhat apocalyptic future on Earth. The story is fast-paced with complex, interesting characters. Each character has his/her own priorities and values which adds complexity to the conflict. The story is told from many viewpoints, but the story is clear and easy to follow despite the strange names and many characters.

The world-building is excellent overall, but some small details remained unexplained. (For example, Jandra's unending supply of silver dust in her belt pouch despite the way she's always throwing handfuls of it into the air). The details weren't major ones, but the lack of any explanation gave the story a slightly implausible edge in my mind.

There was no sex, nor do I remember any cussing. The magic involved is [spoiler!!!!!] actually high technology [spoiler end]. Overall, I'd rate this book "very good, clean reading."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
The sad little fire gave out more smoke than warmth. The hunter crouched before it, turning a chunk of ash-flecked meat on the flat stone he'd placed amidst the coals. The movement of the stone stirred more smoke. The hunter coughed and wiped soot from his eyes. He stretched his bony, knotted fingers above the embers, fighting off the chill. He was a thin man, hair shoulder-length and gray, the deep lines of his leathery face forming a permanent frown. He pulled his heavy cloak more tightly around him.

In the tree above him hung the body of a dragon, blood dripping from its mouth.

The creature was a sky-dragon, the smallest of the winged dragon species. Strip away the ten-foot wings and the long tail, and a sky-dragon was no bigger than a man and half his weight. They were known as sky-dragons both for their prowess in flight and their coloring, the pale, perfect blue of a cloudless day. The hunter had killed many sky-dragons over the years. They weren't particularly dangerous. Despite talons ending in two-inch claws and crocodilian jaws full of saw-like teeth, sky-dragons prided themselves on being civilized. The beasts fancied themselves as artists, poets, and scholars; they considered it beneath their dignity to engage in such menial work as hunting.

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