Sunrunner’s Fire (1990) is the third and final book in Melanie Rawn’s DRAGON PRINCE trilogy, but it is not the end of the story. The story continues in a second trilogy called DRAGON STAR. While the immediate tension of Sunrunner’s Fire is resolved by the end, there are looming issues that remain, making Sunrunner’s Fire feel like another middle book.
The story begins just after the end of the previous book, The Star Scroll (for which this review will contain spoilers) and moves us quickly through several years’ worth of significant events before settling in on the main plot. Andry is the new lord of the Sunrunners and he’s become so powerful and unpredictable (bucking many traditions) that his royal family is concerned about his nature and where his loyalties lay. Pol, who still doesn’t know who his biological mother is, is feeling pressured to find a wife. At the same time, Pol’s two remaining half-brothers, grandsons of the dead high prince and puppets of an evil sorceress, are plotting to regain the throne which Pol’s father Rohan occupies.
As our heroes try to stop the bad guys’ plans, Pol learns more about how to be a benevolent leader, has the most boring romance imaginable, engages in a lot of boring banter with his family, hunts a dragon killer, and thinks about laws and loyalty. Meanwhile, Andry is in danger of becoming the monster he’s hoping to stop. There are some significant triumphs and losses, and the book ends with a tantalizing cliffhanger.
Fans of the first two DRAGON PRINCE books (Dragon Prince and The Star Scroll) will be pleased with Sunrunner’s Fire. As for me, I never really fell for Rawn’s characters, the plot isn’t all that exciting, and the prose is merely adequate, so I found the book pleasant, but not stimulating. There are a couple of noticeable flaws that I couldn’t get over. One is a lack of a sense of place. Much of the story takes place in a desert, but it’s hard to remember this fact because it doesn’t feel like a desert. Every time Rawn mentions that Rohan is the prince of the desert, I think “oh yeah, I forgot they live in a desert.”
Another, more problematic, flaw is that the villains are so full-on evil that they’re almost comical. Though Christa Lewis, the narrator of Tantor Audio’s new audio edition, gives a nice performance overall, her interpretation of the villains (including a cheesy evil laugh) only highlights this problem. And while we’re talking about characters, why does Rohan keep beating himself up over something we know wasn’t his fault? And Andry’s personality change was really hard to believe in. Oh, and there are not enough dragons for a trilogy called DRAGON PRINCE.
Sunrunner’s Fire is a must-read for DRAGON PRINCE fans, but this series is, overall, just average. It’s not a bad choice, but there are just so many better options available. If Tantor Audio sends me the next book, Stronghold, I’ll read it, but, honestly, I don’t really care if they do.
Dragon Prince & Dragon Star — (1988-1993) Publisher: When Rohan became the new prince of the Desert, ruler of the kingdom granted his family for as long as the Long Sands spewed fire, he took the crown with two goals in mind. First and foremost, he sought to bring permanent peace to his world of divided princedoms, realms hovering always on the brink of war. And, in a land where dragon-slaying was a proof of manhood, Rohan was the sole champion of the dragons, fighting desperately to preserve the last remaining lords of the sky and with them a secret which might be the salvation of his people…