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If you took every major epic fantasy that has ever been written and twisted them all into one fantastic tale of magic, sword play, and just plain old fantasy fun, you might get the first half of this 235,000 word monster of a read. The last half is a climax so thrilling that words can't even describe it. A new Master of Fantasy has arrived and he is delivering what fantasy fans have long been waiting for.
Overall The Sword and the Dragon (A+) is an impressive debut - a traditional fantasy that manages to be fresh. It succeeds in offering a complete reading experience. See the full review here: fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com
--Fantasy Book Critic
Fans of Tolkien and CS Lewis will find much to enjoy to enjoy in M.R. Mathias' debut fantasy novel. This is a big book, with a steady flow throughout. Read this book. Take up your sword and get ready for a hugely enjoyable adventure.
--Book Smart UK
I bought and read this wonderful story. It has so much action and interaction in it, and it never lost my interest. This story will go far and I am really looking forward to the next book in the trilogy. Sep. 04, 2010
--T. Ellis Smashwords Review
I was captivated with this book from the first page. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to support a new author and who likes fantasy novels with lots of graphic action. Full review at: books-treasureortrash.com/
--Books-Treasure or Trash
Read the reviews on this one, Jordan, Martin, and Hobbs, be wary. A new Fantasy Master has finally released his long written wares....
Deemed one of the top 10 indie Fantasy releases of 2010 by Fantasy Book Critic, and listed in the first ever Publishers Weekly Indie Select issue, this 235k word epic title was originally written in longhand in a Texas prison cell by M. R. Mathias and has been on the Amazon Kindle Top 100 Fantasy/Mythology list for 7 months and counting.
The Sword and the Dragon
When the Royal Wizard of Westland poisons the king so that his puppet prince can take the throne and start a continental war, a young squire is forced to run for his life carrying the powerful sword that his dying monarch burdened him with from the death bed.
Two brothers find a magic ring and start on paths to becoming the most powerful sort of enemies, while an evil young sorceress unwillingly falls in love with one of them when he agrees to help her steal a dragon's egg for her father. Her father just happens to be the Royal Wizard, and despite his daughter's feelings, he would love nothing more than to sacrifice the boy!
All of these characters, along with the Wolf King of Wildermont, the Lion Lord of Westland, and a magical hawk named Talon, are on a collision course toward Willa the Witch Queen's palace in the distant kingdom of Highwander. There the very bedrock is formed of the powerful magical substance called Wardstone.
Who are the heroes? And will they get there before the Royal Wizard and his evil hordes do?
Whatever happens, the journey will be spectacular, and the confrontation will be cataclysmic.
Available in select bookstores and everywhere books are sold online.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Sword and the Dragon is high fantasy, a 600-page behemoth sporting a background teeming with characters and enough strange forest creatures to spook any readers' dreams. The reading is easy (sometimes too direct) and moves from scene to scene with record energy and fun, but can shift with little warning.
Readers need to keep the score in mind and I occasionally had trouble picking up the flow after putting the book down for the evening. A map of the Mainland Kingdoms is available online via a link at the book's start.
As with any long novel, the reader must invest time and effort to understand the course of the story, the bond Gerard and his brother share, and why only Gerard should use the magic ring. The writing is descriptive and direct if not occasionally stilted and clunky.
During a death-defying climb on a treacherous rock escarpment our hero wipes his hands of dirt, grime and hawk droppings. The quest is explained directly and loses tension as the words are forced out staccato-like: he did, it was, etc. The reader is cheated of a chance to learn the story through nuances like heat, light, and smell. The hawk dropping could have been a pungent and acrid smell experienced by Gerard instead of just a single word thrust at the reader.
If you like Fantasy and are ready for a character (and battle) driven story that takes you to a world of dragons, wizards, giants and dwarfs, this book will keep you reading for hours. Overall this is a nicely written story with some interesting twists, plenty of straightforward battles, and it allows the reader a chance to be immersed in a fantasy land created by a fertile mind that sports heroes you'll enjoy cheering for.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book from start to finish. The storyline itself was very solid, thought the characters were well written and interesting even the not so nice ones. To be honest what I'm most excited for are the next two books, the story is headed in a direction that as good as this book was I think the next 2 books will eclipse the story in the first one.
As for complaints about the editing that other reviews had, I really have none. Is this due to further editing on the authors part or exaggeration by some readers, I'm not sure. I read pretty fast so if there is a misspelled word or a one used in the wrong context my mind knows what word belongs there and adjusts. A book shouldn't be judged on a few editing errors unless it makes it unreadable which this is far from. Story and characters is what a book is based upon, which this tale has plenty of both.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
A long, sweeping and engrossing saga. Dragons and magic and heros searching for answers in a dangerous and mystical world. I'm looking forward to reading the second book.
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In lieu of an excerpt, the first 300 pages of The Sword and the Dragon are available for free on screen PC reading, or for download to virtualy any ereader device here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/22793
Amazon offers Kindle users a similar 70 page preview download.
Fantasy Book Critic
INTRODUCTION: Several weeks ago I wanted to find some new independent books to read - I did some posts about the ones reviewed by me and Mihir in 2010 - and I spent an hour or two checking Smashwords sff books: blurb, first page and then random pages from the excerpt if interested.
Out of maybe 50 novels I looked at, The Sword and the Dragon was the only one that intrigued me since despite the traditional sounding blurb, the first page attracted me and then I liked what I read in the random pages I tried. I downloaded the extensive excerpt linked above - at about 100k words it is as long as a regular novel - and I read it and then I bought the full book.
The Sword and the Dragon is the debut of the author and the first novel in The Wardstone trilogy of which the second book is early next year, but it tells a pretty complete story in itself ending the main threads introduced here while planting the hooks for the next volumes.
FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION: The Sword and the Dragon is available only electronically for now and it stands at about 235k words, so the equivalent of ~700 print pages. There are 59 numbered chapters and an Epilogue, while the main POV's are the two Skyler brothers Hyden and Gerard, the squire Mikahl and to a lesser extent the wizard Pael and his daughter Shaella. Several other secondary characters get interlude-like segments that present the happenings in various places outside of the main characters' locations at the time. A map of the novel's mainland kingdoms is available HERE, though there are hints of distant places and people.
The Sword and the Dragon is true epic fantasy with all the tropes associated - dragons, elves, wizards, giants, dwarves, fairies, trolls, lizard people, zombies, quests, destined heroes, dastardly villains, powerful demons that are ready to escape their containment and bring evil to the world, magical animals, people that can talk with animals, kings, lords, warriors, you name it, it is probably there - that manages to be absolutely fresh and zany with some great twists. I want to emphasize again that while there will be a sequel soon, The Sword and the Dragon ends its main arc so it is a standalone part of a greater tapestry.
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: "Gerard Skyler used his free arm to wipe the sweat from his brow before it had a chance to drip into his eyes. Scaling the towering, nesting cliff for the second time was far harder than he had expected it to be. No one had attempted the climb two days in a row before. His body was still sore and raw from yesterday’s climb, but he could not afford to stop and rest. He was more than three hundred feet above a rocky canyon floor. A fall would undoubtedly be fatal. The last thing he needed, at the moment, was burning eyes and blurred vision."
So the novel starts and I liked the above paragraph so I kept reading and got hooked on the story. In essence The Sword and the Dragon is set to be the replay in the present of the novel of events of long ago, when escaped demons brought darkness to the world until a king with a magic sword made by dwarves, giants and elves working together - races that tend to dislike each other and humanity to boot - and a sorcerer that could talk with animals, united all the living things to defeat evil and imprison the nasty demons with a powerful dragon guarding the Seal.
But the dragon was smart enough not to want to be trapped for ever in guarding the portal to the underworld, so she put in an escape clause that will trigger when humans start doing some bad things; enter evil wizard Pael who is set to use dark magic, nasty tricks and the wiles of his daughter Shaella to put in motion events that will lead to the breaking of the seal...
Well, so it goes but what if Shaella actually falls in love with the "sacrifice boy" that Pael needs at a crucial moment, or what if the story as retold is not quite complete missing some ingredients, or what if a key magic artifact goes to the wrong brother and the magic sword loses its magic and goes to the wrong heir? Read the novel and you will find out some answers...
Hoping that the above will give you an inkling why I found The Sword and the Dragon so much fun, I want to talk a bit about the actual execution of the storyline above. The first thing I noticed about The Sword and the Dragon is that it's a true work of love from the author. The world of the novel is described in quite a lot of detail, while the characters have a lot of pages that allow us to get to know them. However the book mixes well descriptions with action, so I never felt the narrative flow stalling.
The Sword and the Dragon starts with essentially two threads, one following the life of two of the secretive Skyler clan youngsters: brothers Gerard and Hyden and one following the squire Mikahl trying to fulfill the last wishes of his protector plus some "behind the scenes" action from Pael that sets the scene so to speak, but at some point it manages to skilfully switch the threads into the more familiar ones - quest to stop the bad guys - though not without introducing some twists in the narrative. The Sword and the Dragon manages to keep the balance between the threads and when as expected things start converging, the tension ratchets up and the book becomes impossible to put down till the end.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a high level of editing for a quite long independent novel - there are some little mistakes here and there and occasionally character names are misspelled a little but no typo stands out. While a traditional fantasy in many respects, The Sword and the Dragon does not shy from explicit language when appropriate and characters, even ones readers may get to like may die or be transformed in unexpected ways.
Overall The Sword and the Dragon (A+) is an impressive debut - a traditional fantasy that manages to be fresh and a novel that while it is the start of a series, it succeeds in offering a complete reading experience. I suggest to try the extended sample linked above and if you love it as I did, get and read it!
By author Tracey Alley
This book is a monster and not just in size. M. R. Mathias has managed to do something extremely difficult in the fantasy genre - create something new and unique. Well written and compelling it literally turns the pages itself. I would compare this to Lord of the Rings except that LOTR couldn't hold my interest like this book. Mathias' characters are rich and well developed, the story flows easily and the reader is lost in the incredible world that's been created.
I will confess that I really wasn't expecting this novel to be as engaging as it was, a lot of hype can sometimes just be a lot of hype. In this case it is well deserved.
Congratulations M.R. Mathias.
Bigger Than Life -- Arthur J. Levine, NY
The Sword and the Dragon
This epic fantasy is wonderfully written with exquisite detail that makes you believe the characters are real. From Hyden the archer and his brother Gerard to the elves to the Dying King Balton's faithful squire Mikahl, set on a journey to deliver the magical sword Ironspike to a giant, all the actions of these characters jump off the pages of a plot with so many sub plots that the reader is kept enthralled and on the edge of his or her seat wondering what will happen next.
Gerard with his magic ring and the beautiful young sorceress Shaella who possessed magical powers fall in love while in pursuit of a dragon's egg for her father the royal Wizard. They and Hyden with his magical hawk, Talon are on a collision course to the kingdom of Highwander where the potent magical substance called Wardstone is formed.
Whether our hero brothers or the evil Royal Wizard get to the Wardstone first is complimented by a veritable feast of tasty subjects that leave our heads spinning with magical ideas as the fantasy draws us closer and closer into a mythic web of awe inspiring proportions. This one deserves five stars.
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