Wendy reviews ‘Anail Dhragain’ (Dragon’s Breath) (The Pendhragains Book 1) by Stephan Knox. Self published March 31, 2018, 753 pages.
Be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of this post for your chance to win an e-book copy of ‘Anail Dhragain’.
Fourteen years of his youth have been conscripted by the deceitful Legatus Legionis Gallus through impossible choices forced upon him; that time is gone, but now, so are the Romans. Free after so long, Trystian’s only desire is to go home— to the family he fears has been destroyed, even after he’d remained dutifully under the regime, and to the one with whom he left his heart.
In a time when so few dare to pray to her any longer, he hopes his devotion to his Goddess is strong enough to wake her from the slumbers of abandonment, so that she may see him through his ultimate and most brutal path yet ahead. The one that will finally return him home. It is this journey, at the most dismal point in his life, that forces him to reconcile with his past, and make peace with the choices that had been made for him long ago.
It’d started when he’d been a young man, struggling with how to contain his discontent of the Roman occupation of Briton so as not to shame his father. Nevertheless, not even the receding Roman reign had come soon enough for Trystian. But back home in Penrith, Cumbria, the ominous Roman presence wasn’t the only thing that caused Trystian a troubled mind. As a young man coming of age, he found there were some things he didn’t have in common with other young men, and an encounter with a secret Welsh noble with exotic eastern features both terrified and excited Trystian. However, life for Trystian wasn’t just his own or simple enough for him to have the time he had wished for to explore. Such feelings, stirring within him— they remained untouched as he was tutored and conditioned to be something greater for their people and the family’s future.
After all the misfortune and misery of the past, Trystian now forges towards a future he never once imagined as his fate. For the Goddess never truly abandons her children born from the blessed rites of the Calan Mai.
For Trystian Pendragon isn’t just high born, he is Sliocht na Péiste— “born of the dragon”— and his future belongs to the Goddess and to the destiny of the royal Pendragon bloodline. Survive it all, and the Goddess Morrighan just might bless him with a reunified bond he’d once made within the Anáil Dhragain.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Follow the link to see my interview with Stephan Knox!
I don’t usually use words like epic to describe a book. It has to be something special in order to have that ‘label’ IMO. Let me tell you all that this book is EPIC!!! It’s a brilliantly written Pre-Arthurian historical fantasy that lives up to that title and more!
I was immediately captured from the very first gritty, realistic battle to the last. This book is the story of Trystain, the illegitimate son of Neven Pendragon. It showcases this man’s journey as he is set upon it at the plotting of others, his course is dictated by his family and the fact that his father is the Lord Neven Pendragon, by a priestess and her vision, by the Roman’s and their army and by a forbidden love. Trystain is a son who wants to please his father during a time when lineage and court rules of noble families was of the utmost importance. Nothing is spared in the telling of how difficult life was at the time and I really got a sense of how the saying “Only the strong survive” as he faces hardship after hardship.
There is immense world building in this story and I was appreciative of the amount of research that went into creating a tale where everything is plausible. I know that I was reading fiction, but even the bits that were for lack of a better way to describe it, spiritual magic, were realistic and believable.
Religion plays a large part of this story as well. It was a time where people practiced mostly Pagan or Earth religions but it was also a time when Christianity was fairly new and making its presence known. I could get a real sense of just how much these religions played a part of not only the characters daily lives, but also in battle strategy. And let me tell you, there are lots of battles and sword fights! Oh yeah, dragons might play a part in this story, too *wink wink*.
Trystain is gay and he does fall in love but this is not a romance. The love he has is deep and real and enduring but the nature of the story with the harsh reality of the daily struggle to survive and prevail, the intrigue and plots, the spirituality were foremost. The fact that Trystain was gay and in love was important, don’t get me wrong, his love was what drove him to succeed when he may have given up without it. But it wasn’t fluffy or easy.
This is one of those books that I hope becomes readily available in libraries across the country. I think we need more historical fiction that represents the LGBTQIA community like this book does.
Stories like these, really good ones aren’t rushed and it’s very apparent that this author did everything in his power to bring us the best of the best. Lots of blood, sweat, and tears happen to make a story this good. I will happily read everything that Stephan Knox writes!
One lucky winner will win an e-book copy of Anail Dhragain. Comment for your chance to win.
You need to be 18 years or older to participate in this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Etc.
Winner will be randomly drawn from all commenters on this post via random.org
This Giveaway will end on April 29th, 2018 at 11:59 PM CDT
GOOD LUCK!!! ❤