Gather round children, and cast your minds back to the ye old days of the late 80’s/early 90’s, when fantasy was still very much an underground thing, most stories were tedious Tolkien retreads or Dungeons and Dragons sessions put down on paper, and writers of the feminine persuasion were notably light on the ground. Which makes this book and the various series it spawn so interesting….
Nowadays, female fantasy authors are a pretty common sight, so it’s a bit shocking to consider just how ahead of its time Dragon Prince was in terms of what could be done in a traditional fantasy novel. When I first picked it up, it was amazed just how different this was from the other fare to be found in bookstores (yes, books were sold in actual stores. Ask your Dad….) What Melanie Rawn did with this story was take all the elements of an awesome epic fantasy and mix it with the conventions of a romance novel, seasoned with some of the most detailed and compelling examples of world building to be found anywhere. The result was something groundbreaking. While there are battles galore and fantastical deed by the score, the core of this tale is the relationship between Rohan and Sioned, the passion that draws them together, the dangers and obstacles that block them. No final voyages to Valhalla here…more along the lines of a traditional romance, Lancelot and Guinevere, Romeo and Juliet, or any number of bodice rippers sold by the dozen made magnificent by the inclusion of dragons.
Today it’s a common enough formula, which makes this book something of a groundbreaker. It showed (to angsty Gen-X teenagers at least) that fantasy could be more than just the slay the dragon while standing on a mountain of skulls. That there was room for real emotion and passion.
In short, a good read. Not to mention the cover art by Michael Whelan, reason enough to buy the printed version.