“In the religion of flame, heaven comes when all the world is ash.” -James Maxey, Bitterwood.
Bant Bitterwood is not a hero. For 20 years he has wandered the world slaying dragons fueled only by his hate and lust for revenge. He has no higher purpose, no lofty aspirations and when he tells people his name, they don’t believe him.
When Bitterwood kills the dragon prince, King Albekizan orders the slaughter of all humans. In any typical fantasy, this would be the point where Bitterwood rallies all of mankind in a fight for survival. There would be great battles and speeches. There would be an old man who gives guidance and is eventually killed off in order to harden the hero to his task and tell the reader This is really serious. And the dragons would be standard winged lizards who all look, sound, and act pretty much the same.
Fortunately for us, James Maxey is not a typical fantasy writer. Bitterwood is not a hero. Albekizan is not just a blood thirsty evil doer. And most of the novel is told from the point of view of other characters. The dragons themselves are artfully rendered and given specific characteristics to explain their function within dragon society. And Mr. Maxey is also not afraid to include biological specific effects of an individual’s death.
Mr. Maxey also has a singular talent for creating characters that are not perfect, nor does he try the old trick of making a mostly perfect person with one tragic flaw. They’re human, or in some cases, dragon. They make choices, some bad, some good and deal with the consequences. But they are always interesting and captivating and, even when they’re ordering the genocide of an entire species, sympathetic.
Unfortunately for you, this book won’t be published until July. But when it is, you should buy it and, if you’re like me, you’ll finish it in one sitting. Because to be quite honest, I think James Maxey could write a grocery list and I’d still want to read it.
To find out more (and read the first chapter), visit