An expedition deep in the mountains, searching for a mysterious artefact, finds far more than they expect. They find this world's last living dragon, waking him from his centuries long slumber. In the time he has slept, humans turned their backs on magic, and are only now returning to its use. The last that Alpheratz remembers is humans hunting down his kind and butchering them. So he responds with aggression at these new invaders. Once he learns he is the last of his kind, he vows vengeance, and begins attacking human settlements.
To deal with the new threat, once renowned, now disgraced master swordsman Guillot dal Villerauvais, last of the Chevaliers of the Silver Circle, is sent after it. But Gill has had more practise lifting a wine bottle than a sword these past five years, and though the original Chevaliers were the dragonslayers of old, they were imbued with magic long since forbidden. What hope does Gill possibly have against a creature out of legend?
Guillot is an excellent antihero. The kind I always fall for. He's not a bad man. He's broken and hurting still over the loss of his family, and a deep betrayal. I just want to hug him, to stuck the broken pieces back together. Once a master swordsman, Gill has lost much of his skill thanks to turning to wine in an effort to numb the intense emotional pain. That all changes when a beast not seen for a millenium wakens and begins terrorising the countryside. As the last Chevalier of the Silver Circle, Gill is charged with killing the creature.
After Gill, or equal to, Alpheratz is my favourite character. He, too, is suffering from intense pain, and the loss of his family. For centuries on end, he slept after being wounded in battle. When meddling humans accidentally awaken Alpheratz, he kills them. His last memory is of humans attacking him. Fully awake, the great dragon goes to find his mate, or any of his kin. Find her he does, in her mountain cave. A pile of bone stripped of scales, horns, teeth, and claws. Desecrated. And beyond her body, the remains of their egg clutch, all destroyed.
This was soooooo sad! I wanted to soothe Alpheratz too! And his story made me loathe the humans in this book in general. Reflecting our own world, these humans found a source of energy/power they just had to use and abuse. They used magic willy-nilly, and drained it from areas, killing trees, plants, etc, in the places they drew heavily upon. They started invading the dragons' territories, slaughtering those defending their lands, using magic to do so. It sickened my heart that these humans just took what they wanted, butchering the indigenous beings who objected to this theft. These humans committed genocide, pure and simple.
I adored the French influences in the story. From people and place names, to even some of the dragon mythology. I can't wait for the next book! If you love stories of dragons, be sure to check this awesome read out!
***Many thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing a hardcopy in exchange for a fair and honest review. Also reviewed via Netgalley. Reviewed for JBN Book Tours.