‘The Dragonbone Chair’ was one of the books I picked up at the book fair at the beginning of this year. I finished it in two days, and was very pleased to discover the local library had the rest of the series. It’s a slow moving high-fantasy, with endearing characters and a fair bit of humour.

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The book starts out in the Hayholt, the home of the High King of Osten Ard, and Simon, the lazy kitchen-boy. The old man is ill, and soon dies, passing on his kingdom to his eldest son, Elias. In this first bit we get hints of the strife in the High King’s family, though the focus is very much on Simon. Simon is lazy, forgetful, and sometimes not terribly bright. He’s also only 14, and the efforts of the adults around him to teach him are amusing. Simon’s growth throughout this book and the next (which I’ve almost finished), is probably one of the strongest elements. He starts out a bit selfish and ignorant, but through him some surprisingly deep themes are touched upon as he grows up. I also feel like I would have responded to Simon differently if I’d read this when I was younger (perhaps I would have shared his views about the unfairness of Morgenes and Rachel, his teacher and adopted Mother respectively).

After spending a lot of time with young Simon in the Hayholt, Elias takes over the throne. For a while, all is well, despite Elias’ suspicious priest, Pryrates. This doesn’t last though, and Simon must flee from the Hayholt, leaving everyone thinking he’s dead. Simon’s adventures through Osten Ard, all the way to the possible safety of Naglimund, then follow. This is a slow moving book, and it feels like nearly every step of the journey is described. The characters though, Simon and especially Binabik, are likeable enough to carry it. There’s also plenty of tension, danger and fighting. As the story continues, and unnatural weather lingers over Osten Ard, its clear that Simon and friends are fighting against far more than an unjust King.

As I’ve already started the next book, I think it’s clear I enjoyed it. There’s a surprising amount of depth here, and a rich history behind the events of the book. I care about the characters, and especially now I’m in the second book perhaps, and characters return to places they’ve already visited, Osted Ard has become very familiar to me, in a way most fantasy worlds don’t.

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