C. J. Cherryh – Fortress Of Dragons

Fortress of Dragons (2000) concludes the story of the Fortress-series by C. J. Cherryh, even though there is a sequel out, but it is no spoiler to mention that this sequel is not part of the main plot. While the first book, Fortress In The Eye Of Time, managed to have a story that could stand on its own, the next three novels form a single story. The events immediately follow up on each other.

In my previous review I wrote that the previous novel, Fortress Of Owls, seemed to be about preparations for the main event and that I hoped Fortress Of Dragons would pick up pace and be more intense, although I expected the beginning to be the typical Cherrhy slow start. Picking up the pace it did not however. The pace remains moderate, especially as the two main characters manage to keep things under control. There are tensions, but as before, the sparks never create a fire. Overall that is the downside of this series. Cherryh spends more time on her characters than on the plot. This allows good characterization and a certain amount of character development, but if the crises remain moderate and under control, real development or stress stays absent.

Overall the plot is fairly basic. There are many minor events to entertain and occupy the reader, but the twists, as mentioned before, don’t really have impact. The revelations of mysteries are not special or extensive either. Not much is really hidden. This is still mainstream fantasy written by a capable writer who is good enough to present some differences to the mainstream elements, but the ideas do not seem to have been developed very deeply. For me there was a lack of complexity and originality of plot which could have lifted this series higher.

Stories don’t have to be complex, but originality is important to me. I try to avoid mainstream fantasy because they are so similar and thus predictable. This story was not that predictable, luckily, but that was mainly in the minor events. That did allow me to enjoy the series sufficiently. However, it rarely surprised or captivated me. It was simply a nice story with a peculiar main character. I will still read the sequel to the series, as I already bought it, but now the main plot is finished I am in no rush.

So in the end I do not particularly recommend this series unless you are looking for a simple but enjoyable fantasy story with some nice concepts, but nothing out of the ordinary. The quality is sufficient to raise it above the average, but not much further.

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