Marc Turner's Dragon Hunters was published by Titan Books (UK) and Tor Books (US) in February 2016.

Information about Marc Turner:

Marc Turner was born in Toronto, Canada, but grew up in England. He graduated from Lincoln College, Oxford University, in 1996 with a BA (Hons) in Law, and subsequently worked at a top ten law firm in the City of London. After more than ten years in the legal profession he gave in to his lifelong writing addiction and started upon a new career path. He now works full-time as a writer. When the Heavens Fall is his first novel.

Click here to visit his official website.

Information about Dragon Hunters:

The sequel to When the Heavens Fall features gritty characters, deadly magic, and meddlesome gods

Once a year on Dragon Day the fabled Dragon Gate is raised to let a sea dragon pass from the Southern Wastes into the Sabian Sea. There, it will be hunted by the Storm Lords, a fellowship of powerful water-mages who rule an empire called the Storm Isles. Alas, this year someone forgot to tell the dragon which is the hunter and which the hunted.

Emira Imerle Polivar is coming to the end of her tenure as leader of the Storm Lords. She has no intention of standing down graciously. She instructs an order of priests called the Chameleons to infiltrate a citadel housing the mechanism that controls the Dragon Gate to prevent the gate from being lowered after it has been raised on Dragon Day. Imerle hopes the dozens of dragons thus unleashed on the Sabian Sea will eliminate her rivals while she launches an attack on the Storm Lord capital, Olaire, to secure her grip on power.

But Imerle is not the only one intent on destroying the Storm Lord dynasty. As the Storm Lords assemble in Olaire in answer to a mysterious summons, they become the targets of assassins working for an unknown enemy. When Imerle initiates her coup, that enemy makes use of the chaos created to show its hand.

A REVIEW OF MARC TURNER'S DRAGON HUNTERS

Marc Turner's Dragon Hunters is the second novel in The Chronicle of the Exile series. It's a sequel to When the Heavens Fall (Titan Books/Tor Books, 2015), but it can be read as a standalone novel, because it takes place in a different part of the world.

Before I write more about Dragon Hunters, I'll mention that I haven't yet had an opportunity to read the first novel in this series. However, I will try to read it as soon as possible, because it's been a while since I've read anything as shamelessly entertaining and compelling as this novel. (I have to mention that Dragon Hunters reminded me why I love classic epic fantasy, because it's perfect escapism.)

Dragon Hunters is an exceptionally absorbing epic fantasy novel that is filled with magic, intrigue, greed and corruption. It manages to do what many other similar kind of fantasy novels fail to do and that is to captivate readers with its story and epic scope. This novel will please many readers because it features interesting characters, fascinating magic and a well-wrought plot.

What Marc Turner has achieved in Dragon Hunters is - honestly - nothing short of amazing, because the story immediately pulls you in and you'll find yourself wholly captivated by it. There's basically nothing new in this novel, but the author uses well-known elements and fantasy tropes in such an excellent way that you can't help but enjoy the gradually unfolding story.

The author writes good and absorbing prose. There was something in his writing style that instantly captivated me when I began to read the story, because he takes his readers on a mesmerising journey into a fantasy world where magic is real and dragons are dangerous.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

- At the beginning, a woman meets a Chameleon priest. She gives the priest information about the Dianese citadel in exchange for dragon blood, but is soon killed by the priest. After the killing, the goddess known as Spider watches the corpse and thinks about what will happen soon.

- Senar Sol is imprisoned for his actions. By stepping through the Merigan portal he has ended up in a strange place and has been imprisoned. He finds out that he's in the Storm Isles that are ruled by a fellowship of water-mages called the Storm Lords. He is taken to Imerle Polivar, who is the leader of the Storm Lords. She expects him to serve her.

- Mazana Creed, a Storm Lady, arrives in Olaire because of a summons that she has received. This puzzles Imerle, because she doesn't know anything about the summons.

- The Chameleon priestess Karmel talks with the high priest, Caval, who is her brother. Caval asks her help in sabotaging the Dragon Gate. Karmel learns that the emira, Imerle, is trying to arrange a coup.

- Septia Kempis Parr has been called to meet Quina Hilaire Desa. When he arrives at the meeting, he also meets Dutia Elemy Meddes. Because he can sense magic, he is asked to track down an assassin who has murdered water-mages that are known as the Drifters.

- Kalischa Agenta Webb arrives in Olaire with her father, Kalisch Rethell Webb, on their galleon. Agenta's father talks with Imerle about his disappeared ship and wants compensation for it. Rethell and Agenta hear about Imerle's plans to hold on to power and think about using certain pieces of information to their advantage...

This is the fascinating beginning of a masterfully created and delightfully complex story.

The author has created a large cast of primary and secondary characters that bring a lot of diversity and freshness to the story. Because the characterisation is fluent and engaging, you'll soon find yourself compelled by the characters and their various deeds.

One of the things why I enjoyed reading about the characters was that they seemed to have something to hide or something had happened to them that had affected and shaped their lives. It was great that all of them had a role to play in the story and none of them were bystanders.

Here are a few words about the characters:

- Senar Sol is a Guardian who is trapped far away from home. He has travelled from Erin Elal to Olaire by means a portal. He is an observant man who gets to witness how the Storm Lords and Storm Ladies behave and what kind of deeds they commit.

- Kempis Parr is a Watchman. He's a talented and experienced investigator. It was interesting to read about his investigations.

- Karmel Flood is a Chameleon priestess. She's an intelligent woman who has many talents. I enjoyed reading about what she did and how she carried out her mission.

- Agenta Webb is a Gilgamarian sailor who has arrived in Olaire with her father. She's a surprisingly independent and strong woman who has to carry out the duties of his dead brother.

- Mazana Creed is a Storm Lady. She's an especially interesting character, because she can be quite ruthless in her dealings with others. She's accustomed to using people to further her own goals.

One of the things why I like this novel so much is that Marc Turner takes his time to introduce the characters to his readers. All of the characters have their own voices, but their deeds and storylines interlink in a fascinating way (the interlinking happens almost as if by itself because of the way the story has been written).

The author writes well about Karmel and Caval's feelings towards their mother who often abandoned them when they were young, because neither of them has ever forgiven or forgotten what she did to them. He also writes well about how Agenta lost her mother and brother and how she feels about it. It's nice that he doesn't burden the reader by dwelling too much on these issues, but explores them in a realistic way.

There are a few strikingly brutal and violent scenes in this novel that will be of interest to readers who like the rougher side of fantasy fiction. I can mention as an example that the author shows his readers how prisoners are executed in a brutal way. There are also intriguing mentions of poison being used to get rid of family members.

The worldbuilding works well. The author has created a fascinatingly dynamic and enjoyable fantasy world that feels vibrant and fully functionable. He paints a vivid picture of the grand city Olaire, some parts of which have been flooded and claimed by water and gradual decay. Every now and then mysterious and strong tremors shake the city and its buildings.

The magic in this novel feels delightfully fresh and mysterious. It's great that the author has infused the story with different elements related to magic, because it adds plenty of fascination to it. The author doesn't spend time explaining convoluted magic systems, but lets his readers assume that magic is an essential part of the world. This is fantastic, because not everything needs to be explained.

As many readers are aware of, there has been a trend going on that has inspired many authors to write fantasy novels that have only tiny bits of magic or no magic at all. I have personally nothing against this trend, because it has brought much-needed diversity and depth to the genre, but there are times when I want to read fantasy novels that have magic and wonders in them, because after a while it gets a bit boring to read novels that feature only tiny threads of magic and wonders. This novel is a welcome and worthwile addition to the fantasy genre, because it features magic in a classic and entertaining way.

I think it's good to mention that it takes a while before the dragons appear in the story, but their appearance is worth waiting for. This novel doesn't have normal dragons, but it has sea dragons that are just as dangerous as their winged and fire-breathing kin. The sea dragons are quite an unforgettable sight, because they're formidable and interesting beasts. These scaled beasts grow to be as tall as ships. Their tails and jaws are extremely dangerous and may cause massive damage to ships. The author offers his readers such memorable sights as the sea dragons smashing their heads against the Dragon Gate and trying to break it (the Dragon Gate keeps them from entering the Sabian Sea). The sea dragons are veritable killing machines that feel no remorse.

Politics is handled in an exemplary way in this novel. There's nothing heavy or frustrating about the political happenings and power play issues. This is great, because there have been times when I've been a bit annoyed by overly long descriptions of politics that don't seem to advance the story at all, but only add unnecessary length to a novel (I'm sure that many readers know what I mean by this). Fortunately, Marc Turner avoids this and delivers a story that moves forward without long pauses. In this novel, politics and power play work in favour of the story and serve to further the happenings.

There are many highlights in this novel. One of them is Karmel's journey to Dragon Gate. I enjoyed reading about her adventures and deeds, because she was an interesting and well-created character. I also enjoyed reading about the hunt for the dragon, because the action scenes were great. It was also intriguing to read about the tremors that shook the city and how certain secrets and truths were revealed during the story.

I like Marc Turner's descriptive and intense writing style. He writes captivatingly about the happenings and the characters. I like the way he keeps things in motion and doesn't get stuck on meaningless issues. The story flows effortlessly without interruptions, because the author masterfully builds up pace and suspense towards the climactic ending.

It's nice that the author has added a bit of humour to his story. There are certain moments in the story when you just can't help but smile or chuckle when you read about what's going on and how the characters react to something that has happened.

In my opinion, Dragon Hunters is classic epic fantasy done right. It contains all the well-known epic fantasy elements, but lacks several elements that often make classic epic fantasy a bit annoying. It's great that this novel is not a story about a farmboy or a princess who has to save the world, but a fascinating account of what can happen when the deeds and lives of different characters powerfully collide with each other.

The cover image in the UK edition (Titan Books) looks great and so does the cover image of the US edition (Tor Books). The cover images beautifully capture the ruthless nature of the formidable sea dragons.

This novel has a good and well-drawn map. All of the different cities and places in the world are perfectly marked on the map.

I have to admit that I'm a bit torn between giving this novel four or five stars on the scale from one to five stars, but I'll give it full five stars, because this kind of fantasy fiction is the best kind of escapism to speculative fiction readers. I really enjoyed this novel and found it entertaining. I look forward to reading the first novel in this series and I also eagerly await the forthcoming third novel, Red Tide, because I want to know what else happens in this fantasy world.

Marc Turner is a fantastic new author who deserves more attention, because he writes fluent and captivating fantasy for adults. In this novel, he has wonderfully encapsulated what entertaining epic fantasy can be at its best. This novel has that special something in it that has made many of us fall in love with fantasy fiction and classic epic stories. It's an enjoyable and refreshing reading experience that should not be missed by fans of epic fantasy, because it's fantasy at its most entertaining. Please, give it a try and enjoy a good story.

My final words are:

This novel is excellent entertainment and perfect escapism to fantasy readers!

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