The Dragons of Deepwood Fen
By Bradley P. Beaulieu
- The Dragons of Deepwood Fen
Author: Bradley P. Beaulieu
Publisher: Ad Astra
- ISBN: 9781803285061
- Published: January 2024
- Pages: 684
- Format reviewed: Hardback
- Review date: 12/01/2024
- Language: English
I love Fantasy and read enough to know that there are so many layers to the genre; from high to low, from Tolkien, through the Golden Age to modern darker fantasy. The genre twists and turns through the ages. A lot of modern Fantasy is shorter and darker, and I miss a stonking big slice of High Fantasy occasionally. What better way to start the year then than with almost 700 pages of dragons and high magic in Bradley P Beaulieu’s The Dragons of Deepwood Fen.
War is brewing between the state, church, and people of The Holt, but some people are still looking for peace. To some this will be diplomacy and compromise, to others wiping out the other side to make a lasting peace. The likes of Lorelei Aurelius and Rylan Holbrooke do not have the power to make peace, but they find themselves wrapped up in the very centre of the action. Can a law enforcer and a thief work together to save the land from all-out war?
Deepwood fen is a fantasy book for the reader looking for that old school fantasy feeling. It is chunky, with a lot of characters and a lot of things happening. At its core it is High Fantasy, there are dragons in the land, either trained to be servient, or linked to the mind of their rider. There is magics; some that are strongest in the day, others at night. The fantasy elements reminded me of the lightness and majesty of 80s and 90s fantasy, but Beaulieu has given the book a more modern twist by layering Low Fantasy elements. Not all the characters will see out the first book, never mind the whole trilogy.
There is a trepidation that exists throughout the novel, Rylan in particular walks a dangerous line. He is the illegitimate son of a powerful politician, but also part Holt. He has a foot in both worlds, this makes him useful as a thief, but also as a spy. Both sides aim to use him to further their gaols, but Rylan has his own. The other major character is Lorelei, she is an Inquisitor, and she must learn whether she trusts Rylan or not.
Fantasy as a genre often has multiple character arcs, and only two would be on the low side. Deepwood has far more than just the main two. We see the conspiracies and plotting from all sides, from the leader of a notorious gang to the highest escalations of the Church. The book is very layered and full of intrigue. This does bring comparisons with Game of Thrones as the politics is dense. It will appeal to the fantasy fan who likes their worlds well padded.
It is a long book, and the action is spread thinly. The book speeds up towards the end as all the plotting comes to a head. There are moments of excitement and gore, but the thrills are developed by the politics and not the action. The magic system is well designed and plays its part in how the story unfolds. Fans of dragons will also be well catered for as the lore here is developed nicely.
I enjoy Fantasy of all types and feel that Deepwood was a nice book to read at the start of the year. A little slow in places but relaxing in a way that only an epic Fantasy novel can be. The moments of Low Fantasy are spread out enough to make this feel like High Fantasy at heart. I would recommend it to readers who are yearning for a modern variation on the liked of David Eddings or Anne McCaffrey; it has that feel, but with an added modern menace.
Written on 12th January 2024 by Sam Tyler .