The Dragon's Eye (The Magic Circle Book Two)
by P. C. Darkcliff
Once a humble woodsman, Baard Thon is now the savior of Thorstorm following his unprecedented slaying of Wrathlord Zaagretaah. However, Baard is not entirely comfortable with his new status and has made enemies close to home.
In addition, there are the two remaining Wrathlords to contend with and their army of Corpsentinels. But the only weapon that can kill them, the Wrathblade, is broken in two, and none of Baard’s friends with their magic and craft know how to fix it…
Having reviewed, The Wizard’s Blade (The Magic Circle Book 1)*, I am running out of superlatives. The Dragon’s Eye does not disappoint, despite being that tricky second novel.
The richness of Darkcliff’s imaginative artistry and world-building is beautifully consolidated as are character dynamics and themes. Possibly because the groundwork has been laid, The Dragon’s Eye appears more focused than The Wizard’s Blade.
Darkcliff has kept a very similar narrative structure in place. Through the sinister, atmospheric Prologue, the reader is quickly reminded of the events that occurred in the first novel and away we go again to be immersed in Darkcliff’s cavernous yet controlled imagination.
Baard is well, just simply, Baard; engaging, likable, and with the perfect mix of integrity and curiosity to drive this second episode and, importantly sustain momentum and believability. Darkcliff has imbued him with maturity and might. Although still a simple boy at heart, he is slightly more introspective and has lost a little light-heartedness, being a tiny bit quick to temper as he wrestles with his demons, both literal and metaphorical.
The core characters that remain from The Wizard’s Blade are all present, correct, and following credible character arcs. Sethric, Mardok, Ruah, and the Tik’Haaney, are so authentic and convincing, they feel as much old friends of the reader as they are of Baard.
Notwithstanding, Darkcliff does not allow for any stagnation in either plot or players. The reader is gifted the new character of Ufi, who is an excellent addition, and also, Ergana. Enigmatic yet damaged, she is quietly compelling.
The only portrayal who occasionally frustrates is Diara. I cannot help thinking she is going to prove disingenuous, intentionally or otherwise. Duplicitous Doffer is also back, nastier than before and Darkcliff utilizes Verdecast with more purpose.
Aside from the main thrust, there are several sub-plots but Darkcliff never overplays them, the narrative always remains plausible within the genre and, although involving, is at no time dense or confusing.
There are many lovely flourishes and details; Darkcliff inhabits Baard’s realm and walks among its characters, but he is also supremely conscious and consequently successful that the reader does too. These novels are not subjective flights of fancy but staggeringly well-written, constructed, and conceived.
Probably because of Dhra’ack, the young dragon, there is a fairy-tale, almost folkloric aspect to this installment. This filters through to some characters who are more sharply drawn as villains and heroes. The Middleman, especially, is darkly malevolent.
As before, Darkcliff makes sudden, surprising decisions concerning a few characters, Otrex and Doffer, in particular. Overall, these work, ensuring the focus remains on Baard and his overwhelming task as the reader is hurtled toward the conclusion.
Battle scenes are brilliant, choreographed with energy, and the occasional brush of black comedy. Darkcliff leaves no stone unturned and as curveball after curveball is thrown at Baard and his allies, The Dragon’s Eye becomes truly nail-biting with many an ingenious twist.
Once again, P.C. Darkcliff expertly plunges the reader into the gloriously mythical world of Baard Thon, producing a toweringly good epic fantasy that is intelligent, immersive, and provides wonderful escapism. Highly recommended.
*Click here for my review of The Wizard’s Blade (The Magic Circle Book 1).