Although I generally don’t like reviewing the second book in a trilogy, (middle books often seem to just be filler) I just had to write about Ed Greenwood’s Swords of Dragonfire which continues the early exploits of the Knights of Myth Drannor, some of Greenwood’s more interesting characters. A roaming band of adventurers, loyal to the crown of Cormyr, the Knights are perhaps some of the most successful bunglers in the history of the Forgotten Realms. Florin Falconhand and his friends had appeared as wise and worldly adventurers in previous Greenwood books, but their history had never been fully explored. The Knights of Myth Drannor series is Greenwood’s story of their humble beginnings as callow youths in love with the spirit of adventure, but who know nothing of its atrocities.
Swords of Dragonfire continues where Swords of Eveningstar left off. Having gained the approval of Queen Filfaeril and King Azoun, the Knights believe that they are set up for life. Little do they know that good adventurers are always feared, and that The Crown is determined to have them become some other country’s problem. But, being the Knights of Myth Drannor, Florin and friends are soon caught up in a web of intrigue aimed at killing the weary Court Wizard Vangerdahast, and the entire royal family.
Greenwood has never been the best of novel writers. He tries to write archaically, using wherefore instead of therefore, and constructing sentences to make them seem part of an older age or courtlier. But in Swords of Dragonfire, he has written one of the most protracted, most complicated, most fascinating fight scenes I have ever seen in print. Taking up at least 50 pages of the 352 page novel, the fight at the Oldcoats Inn takes several chapters, and requires the appearances of no less than Vangerdahast, Khelben Blackstaff, Manshoon of the Zhentarim, and Elminster to bring an end to it.
Greenwood weaves an intricate plot. Swords of Dragonfire is told as a series of vignettes following a great number of characters as they plot against Cormyr, seek to save it, or simply try to preserve the status quo. Each conspirator doesn’t know of the other’s plots, and the entire novel culminates in what is quaintly known as the Disaster of the Season. Many people don’t like Greenwood’s vignette style because it requires a great number of characters to keep straight, but this is sword and sorcery at the next level. Greenwood doesn’t spend a lot of time with soul-searching angst-ridden characters. He simply details a great fight scene — in this case, one which had at least five different groups duking it out in one small inn. Thereafter follows an excellent chase scene in the bowels of Azoun’s place in Suzail, which has the pace and feel of a Dungeon Master playing games with you.
I highly recommend Swords of Dragonfire for the protracted fight scenes alone. You’ll need to read Swords of Eveningstar in order to get the back story, but Swords of Dragonfire makes it worth your time.
FanLit thanks John Ottinger III from Grasping for the Wind for contributing this guest review.