Dragonforge by James Maxey
James Maxey wrote the first book I reviewed on my blog. He’s also one of my favorite writers of short fiction (despite the fact that if he’s participating in a Codex contest, I have no chance of winning.) I highly recommend his stories "To Know All Things That Are in the Earth" and "Silent as Dust," available at Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show.
Last year, his second novel, Bitterwood, came out. In this post last year, I mentioned in passing that it was a great novel, but I never gave it a full review. And I’m not going to now — I’ll just sum up. Basic premise: to avenge his family, Bant Bitterwood uses his uncannily accurate archery to kill dragons. After he kills the heir to the dragon throne, the dragon king comes up with a plan to exterminate humans. The dragon wizard Vendevorex and his human apprentice Jandra have to stop him.
You can read a short story prequel online, "Tornado of Sparks," to get a taste of the world Maxey has created.
Bitterwood also has one of the coolest book covers I’ve seen:
It was the character of Bitterwood that inspired me to write this haiku for Maxey’s dragon poetry contest:
Where he hunts without end, but
The wyrm dieth not.
Bitterwood works as a standalone novel. Fortunately, it didn’t remain lonely, because there’s now a sequel, Dragonforge, which also has an awesome cover:
Dragonforge picks up where Bitterwood left off. To avoid spoilers about whether characters live or die in the end of the first book, I won’t mention any names. But like the first book, Dragonforge is filled with action and intrigue as dragons and humans try to figure out how to live with each other — or exterminate each other.
If my recommendation isn’t enough, then I suggest you read Orson Scott Card’s review (which contains minor plot spoilers.) Scroll about halfway down.
A word of warning about Bitterwood: it starts off with a scene that made me worry that the novel would have a lot of sexual content. It doesn’t, and neither does Dragonforge.