Dragonmaster v Sooty Foot

Book: Dragonmaster Omnibus
Author: Chris Bunch
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 2007 (Storm of Wings – 2002)

This is a series I pretty much never see talked about anywhere & I really don’t understand why because it is phenomenal. I’ve tried to write my own synopsis of the series before but could never summarise it in a way I was satisfied with. Fortunately, the one on Wikipedia is nearly perfect.

From Wikipedia: Dragonmaster is an action trilogy following the life & exploits of Hal Kailas, a peasant who left home at an early age. During his early years, Hal must work as a casual labourer. His dream is to fly dragons, so he joins a travelling troupe who give rides on dragons as entertainment from town to town. Hal is away from his home country & his king, Asir. When war breaks out, he is drafted into the army as an unwilling soldier. However, he does his best & works his way through the ranks of the army & society with his heroic exploits. Dragons are mainly wild & untamed creatures that are brought into the war, while Hal & others devise new & more damaging ways to use the dragons against their enemies. This tale is told in the first two books, which contain bloody action throughout. The third book covers life after the war, the difficulties ex-soldiers face, & how Hal deals with it.

The aspect of the series I personally find particularly enthralling is how it explores innovation during war. When war breaks out there is practically no knowledge of how Dragons might be utilised, which I think draws a clear comparison to how it must have been for the RAF at the end of WW1 & during WW2. The life expectancy of a dragon rider is lower towards the beginning of the trilogy as a result.

In terms of tone, it shares space in military fantasy with the Black Company by Glen Cook. The depiction of war is not glorious, it is dirty & terrifying in places. Abercrombie fans might also find something to like here.

Beer: Sooty Foot
Brewery: Time & Tide
Style: Stout
Strength: 8.2%

First things first. That can is awesome. Dragons are awesome. The beer is … also awesome. Bloody strong, but earns it with flavour. It has the smokey taste you’d hope for in a beer called Sooty Foot.

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