Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole is a recognized star of military fantasy. The Dark Glory War is a thrilling new tale set in a world threatened by an unstoppable foe. . . .

In the sacred season of the Moon Month, four young men don the masks that herald their coming-of-age celebration, a time of testing, ritual, festival, and romance.

But for Tarrant Hawkins and his friends Leigh, Rounce, and Nay, their first test becomes a desperate struggle for survival. For they will encounter the vanguard of an invasion force poised to overrun their homeland of Oriosa, and all four will find their lives changed forever when they encounter a legendary weapon that brings its wielder invincibility. Yet the magic sword may prove more curse than blessing, signaling the arrival of a cataclysmic battle with ancient foes. And in the face of dire sorceries and terrible battles, these youths will come to manhood . . . or to death.

402 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 2000

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Michael A. Stackpole

388 books1,449 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
656 (37%)
4 stars
642 (36%)
3 stars
329 (18%)
2 stars
92 (5%)
1 star
30 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 56 reviews
Profile Image for Dev Null.
317 reviews20 followers
August 11, 2009
Pretty stock standard epic fantasy. Nothing terrible about most of it, and a couple of nice culture touches like the masks. But the ending _was_ terrible; our heroes inexplicably ditch their army and go trapsing into Moria on their own (ok, its not actually called Moria, but it might as well have been) where they get their butts kicked because the badguys did not inexplicably leave their army at home. Surprise! And then the book waffles on for another 50 pages or so before finally curling up to whimper in a corner.

There's a strange pacing problem here too, where the most verbiage gets spent on bits that don't appear to be particularly important to the story, and then some of the bits that _are_ important feel a bit rushed. For example, towards the end we get a paragraph or two that says something like "I trekked across the snow for a couple of weeks, hiding from pursuers and nearly empty-handed, before I was finally rescued." What a perfect opportunity to make us feel his desperation in this amazing battle against the elements and his hunters, but instead we get this kind of casual offhand mention of it from after the fact. And then we get details about his ride home that we couldn't possibly care about.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
10 reviews
May 22, 2012
At first I thought this book was going to be lame. They wear masks and I wasn't really buying into it. The story moves at a nice pace keeping you interested in the development of the plot and characters. The ending was fantastic! Definitely non-traditional and therefore made it on my great list. I loved how politics discredits Tarrant's reputation and ultimately will leave the kingdom doomed in the future. Highly enjoyable. I tip my hat to Michael Stackpole and will read more by this guy!
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,336 reviews1,017 followers
July 10, 2014
Buddy read with Cory, Ange, Jenny, Catherine & Kathyhill (although I don't think anyone apart from Cory and I actually finished reading it!)

I've not read anything by Michael A Stackpole before but I was in the mood to start a new epic fantasy series and the DragonCrown War Cycle came highly recommended by my friend Cory. In fact she raved about it so much that several of us decided to buddy read this! I found The Dark Glory War to be a likeable read but unfortunately it didn't wow me as much as I expected it to and although I've already bought the rest of the series I don't find myself in any kind of rush to carry on reading them.

There is a lot to like about the book though and I found the idea of the masks quite an interesting one. All adults from Oriosa wear a mask when they're in public, the mask isn't so much to hide their identity (although it does that to a certain extent) but it is used to show their achievements and they add marks and embellishments to them as they achieve certain goals or to show their allegiances. It's used a bit like a badge of honour and I enjoyed seeing the ways that characters added to their masks throughout the story. I also liked the main character Tarrant, he's an honest and trustworthy guy who just wants to do right by the people he cares about. He is pulled into a horrible situation and does a good job of rolling with the punches and he grows a lot through out the story as he faces his worst nightmares.

While I did enjoy the story I found it quite a slow read. I can't even put my finger on why that is because I can't think of anything I actively disliked but I just didn't feel as hooked as I should have done. As much as I liked Tarrant and I want to know what happens to him most of the other characters came across as fairly one dimensional and I don't particularly feel invested in the outcome of their stories. The book is well written and I enjoyed both the action scenes and world building so it is a series I'll be continuing at some point in the future but it's not one I'll be jumping back into immediately.
Profile Image for Jason.
278 reviews
November 15, 2008
A prequel to the DragonCrown War. My first book by Stackpole and it certainly grabbed my attention. So much so that I will be reading a majority of his other works as I get the time. I'm already reading Fortress Draconis. What I like about his book is his attention to details on battle scenes. There is also a bit more gore to his books that brings a bit more reality to it.
Profile Image for Mark Lacy.
Author 7 books5 followers
August 6, 2016
[2006] I read Fortress Draconis by this author. Unfortunately, I have no record of it anywhere. But when I learned that this book was the prelude to the Fortress Draconis series, I thought it would be a good idea to read it. I'm not sure that I really cared for the first person narrative style that Stackpole used in this book. But it was an interesting book. I liked the mask concept, although after a while I never pictured the characters with masks. As I got closer to the end, I wondered how it would end, and there were several surprises. A great ending, the kind that makes you want to jump into the next book right away to see what happens next. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how well the problems at the end of this book will be resolved in the later books, especially since I think they happen much later in time. Now I will re-read Fortress Draconis and then the other two books that follow.
Profile Image for Oscar.
563 reviews20 followers
February 5, 2015
OK - well, this is "exactly what it shows on the tin" - the character with the mask? That is a plot devise throughout this novel. And it is not an interesting one at that. I like the premise behind what the novel was trying to do, but the characters had zero qualities for me to enjoy. Again, I got sucked into a novel that everyone raves about online, but I feel that our standard of what we expect is too low these days, and we will read anything if it has a gimmick or a creature that is cool, or something without actual merit or plot device. I was sorely disappointed in this and look forward to what I can do with the money that I won't be spending on future works of Michael Stackpole.
Profile Image for Alain.
113 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2018
Very nice but generic military-type fantasy.

As the prelude to the Dragoncrown War Cycle (trilogy), I loved the premise but not the ending, especially the unwise & ultimately fatal decision to pursue the primary antagonist without sufficient military backing, leading to the really frustrating conclusion.

Still enjoyed it for the action, 40% of the characters (Leigh was often incredibly annoying & most characters were terribly one-dimensional; not enough depth) and some of the political & social intrigues. Resolute is my favorite & hope to see more of him.
Profile Image for Awwwgusto.
10 reviews
December 30, 2019
Its been years since ive read this one but its never too far from my mind. When I meet someone new I ask them if theyve read this book and if they say no I promptly bring it to them. Tons of action. Its a great fantasy novel. I love stackpoles earlier stuff and this book may be his best.
Profile Image for Mike.
89 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2023
Yeah, still remains one of my favourite fantasy novel series though with what I've read from when I first rated this it should go down a bit.

Still, Stackpole remains one of my fav fantasy authors.
Profile Image for Kei.
324 reviews
October 17, 2017
Fascinating races and cultures and... a good story.
Glad we found the second when we found the first.
137 reviews1 follower
February 16, 2019
DNF as 50%. More superhero comic than fantasy.

First the positives:the humor and character conversations were well done, not too sarcastic or quippy, just the right amount of banter. The narrators inner monologue was balanced and well done.

Now for the negatives.

The pacing was off, it seemed the story moved more quickly than desirable, not spending time anywhere. The narrative focused only on the battles, each combat scene is detailed with descriptions of how each of our characters arced their weapons. The rest of the book is basically rushed and only exists to get us to the next battle.

Few women in the entire book, none of them given any page time.

But the biggest problem here is the fighting skills of Tarrant and Nay (discounting Leigh due to his sword) who are supposed to be ordinary 18 year olds (one of them a blacksmith by upbringing). They seem to be fighting better than the career solders and (hundreds of year old) elves taking out waves and waves of T-Rexes/Goblins/Orcs seemingly like Captain America and Thor.

With the exception of the first fight (2 boys vs 1 T-Rex in the dark, pushing the limits of imagination, but I'll allow it), I simply cannot take any other fight scene in the rest of the book seriously unless it is revealed in the end that our heroes are the War God(s) incarnate or something.

On top of all this, our narrator Tarrant comes off as super arrogant and smug. Promises an elf to free his home town which has been under control of the Orcs for atleast 100 years. Gets into a fist fight in a rundown part of town with the gangster running the aforementioned neighborhood. Asks a dwarf how she is going to be able to climb a mountain. Advises battle plans to a gathering of princes and career statesmen. Most of these should not be possible or should end in bad consequences for our hero which does not happen.
Profile Image for T J.
422 reviews4 followers
July 19, 2017
This is a coming of age story of Tarrant Hawkins and his friends. Destiny was set for these young men if they only knew it. A chance encounter on their first test becomes a desperate struggle for survival, for they have ran into the vanguard of an invasion force. This story has excitement, mystery and magic. If you are new to the DragonCrown War series this is the one you want to start with.
Profile Image for Jack.
155 reviews9 followers
February 18, 2022
It was not very good, but the last ten percent was very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Eric Moreno.
141 reviews8 followers
March 21, 2011
A light fantasy tale with a dark foreboding narrative. The story follows Tarrant Hawkins and his friends welcoming into manhood, a sacred tradition for this fantasy world which includes a new mask and parties. Also included are tests to find out where you belong. Things take a turn for our heroes straight away, and one is picked off in their first few chapters by an unexpected arrival of the main villain's minions.

The story from there kind of snowballs into your typical fantasy fare, with a quest for the main characters to rid the world of the evil that is now threatening their boundaries. Having faced the first of the bad guys our young heroes are brought along and continually preform awesome feats, earning reputations as they go. All the while the story has a ominous tone as it is being told.

Coming up to the second half of the book, everything is going great for the heroes. They are winning battles, killing the generals of the army, felling giants and other beasts. Tarrant even ends up with a foxy elf, well done sir. And then it starts to fall apart. Our hero with the magical sword loses it. Our second hero with the blacksmith strength is forced to retire with injures and help out the first hero. A prince falls, but not the one we all want to die. The cowardly prince who is just looking for a reason to destroy our heroes has it but is thwarted by the commander and sent back to a rear guard position.

The remains of our heroes try to chase down the main villain, while the remaining good prince destroys the remains of her army.

So things look bad at this point. But, surely there is not more. Shows what you know! Treachery! Everyone dies! Only Tarrant is left standing to face the dark queen and she tricks him several times over. All the heroes who aren't beheaded in the ambush succumb to the dark promises she offers with the exception of Tarrant who she bloodies and sends on his way home with a two day head start before her hunters track him down. >.<

He is game, and ends up making it against all odds before Resolute finds him. Unfortunately, he is the only one left to tell the story and prince jackhole is the one who receives him. Tarrants word versus the crowned prince, and we all know who the kingdom believes. He is branded a traitor and stripped of his mask. His father tells him he has no son as he takes his mask.

I don't mind a down ending, but geez man. I was quite enjoying your typical fantasy adventure when out of nowhere it goes pear shaped. The world is definitely an interesting one, with magnificent beasts unique to this story and standard fare. The culture of the world, requiring different masks to be worn at all times to show your station in the world was definitely interesting and sucked me. I would think always wearing a mask would get old, but thats just me.

I enjoyed this book, but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I hated that Seethe and Norrington fell. They didn't confirm the end of Faryaah-Tse but I can only assume that has happened and it makes me angry as well. We could all see the betrayal of the prince from the beginning, but it still was weak. And the ultimate slap in the face was his father automatically assuming the worst. I guess he has me hooked for more because I just bought the next trilogy, but damn. 4 stars.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lydia.
960 reviews47 followers
May 27, 2016
Tarrent Hawkins knows he is coming of age. He knows this will mean changes for him and the start to his life-path. However, on the evening of the first celebration of Tarrent and his friends' "moon month" a "normal" test takes a completely unexpected turn and ratchets up the danger. Evil creatures are discovered where they shouldn't be and soon it is realized that war is coming to the whole continent.

So the journey with Tarrent and friends is fun; the battles are harsh but interesting. The other main characters and main side characters, have some great development and even if they aren't in the story for long, are enjoyable. (Often aspects of the story reminded me of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, especially with how many characters there are that are important to the story, but we only really "see" from Tarrent's perspective.)

Okay, so with all of these positives so far, why only three stars? Remembering that this is the "prequel" for The DragonCrown War cycle, I figured there was going to be some unfinished plot / story, whatever, (though I was really hoping it would be like The Hobbit where it's still a complete story, just a minor thing that comes back to bite them eventually) but that is sadly not the case (even though it was perfectly set up for that!). The first 350 pages of story were great! I was eating it up and didn't really have a clue what was going to happen next, but the likable characters were doing a great job of taking care of each other and (mostly) staying alive. Than the last 50 pages happened... With a drastic change of tone and a very un-complete (and evil!) ending; stars were lost.

Content notes: Only made-up swear words if any. The hero meets / falls in love with and starts a relationship with a girl he meets on his travels; though he does mention them sleeping together there is very little detail and nothing lewd. There are several battles that include medieval warfare, magic weapons and creature violence. Some descriptions of injuries or kills, mostly lopping off of heads / limbs or slashes through chest / throat, but no gruesome details.

Profile Image for Daniel Millard.
286 reviews12 followers
February 27, 2014
After enjoying a number of Stackpole's books in various worlds, I decided to take the plunge with the Dragoncrown War Cycle and started with the prequel. I don't know if this was a poor idea or not, but I am pretty encouraged on the whole.

I can see that there's been all kind of talk about the ending of this book in particular, which is almost directly at odds with the claim that this is a "typical fantasy" adventure. Being something of a fantasy connoisseur myself, I fall somewhere in the middle of both.

This is a fantasy novel that starts in an idyllic fashion with the coming of age for several young men, but quickly spirals out of control into a continent-spanning conflict against (what I will grant is sort of your typical) an evil host from the north. The young men rise in heroic fashion, generally best the evil horde, and yes, there's an all-too-obvious "hidden" antagonist.

HOWEVER, the interesting part of this book is the last fifth or so, when Tarrant leaves Nay and Leigh behind to join the small command company going north. Not having read the actual Dragoncrown War trilogy, I can't say how all of this fits into the history of those books, but I imagine that events here are somewhat intimately tied. Things get very dark and interesting in what I considered to be a despicably effective (if not totally unforeseen) plot twist, and Tarrant comes home as a traitor. I'll admit frustration at the rushed-feeling last chapter, the obliviousness of Tarrant to Prince Scrainwood's obvious venom towards him (I don't know if I've seen a more blatant self-serving antagonist in a book in some time), but I felt that it set the stage quite well for the trilogy, which I am now eager to read.

Other impressive aspects of this book included the creatures that compose the enemy's army (temeryces, gibberers, etc.) and the detail that is taken to describe them throughout. The typical halfling race (the ur'Zrethi) is given quite a twist in this series as well. If this book and the rest still abide by the most oft-prescribed tropes of the fantasy genre, then at least Stackpole knows how to switch things up a bit and write a detailed, entertaining tale with some excellent dark parts.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Justin.
387 reviews4 followers
November 25, 2016
I had such high hopes for this one. I'm a Michael Stackpole fan, and while I know he's not perfect, I've enjoyed his previous novels quite a bit. In fact, his novel Talion: Revenant was my introduction to the world of fantasy fiction. Needless to say I was eagerly awaiting the first installment in his multi-part fantasy epic the DragonCrown War. After reading his surprisingly mature Eyes of Silver, my expectations rose even higher.

Unfortunately Stackpole fell back into old habits with the Dark Glory War. The book, which serves as a prelude to the DragonCrown War saga, centers on a young warrior and his friends during their transition into manhood, which occurs during a monstrous invasion from an ancient enemy's forces. While Eyes of Silver presented characters that were complex and flawed (in short, human), the characters in the Dark Glory War are 2-dimensional and quite predictable. Hawkins, the main character, is the same flawless noble hero that you'll find in just about every Stackpole novel. Only the circumstances make him any different from Nolan, Locke, or even Corran Horn. The rest of the characters are simply there to fill roles in the hero's life, such as the arrogant friend, the slow but faithful friend, the shallow enemy, the exotic girlfriend, etc. The events in the book are just as predictable as the characters.

That's not to say the Dark Glory War is a bad book. It's actually pretty enjoyable in the same way a summer blockbuster movie is. It's fast-paced and there is plenty of action, as well as some very cool creatures. The Sullanciri, despite their similarities to Tolkien's Nazgul, are a particularly entertaining group. And the idea of a society where everyone wears masks to signify who they are and what they have accomplished is a neat touch. It's a fun book, but you know after reading it that the series will never come close to that George R.R. Martin or Guy Gavriel Kay level of sophistication, intelligence, and sheer quality.

If you're looking for a series that is entertaining, the DragonCrown War will no doubt satisfy. If you want something original with real substance, you're better off reading Martin or Kay.
Profile Image for Viridian5.
854 reviews8 followers
April 11, 2023
Starts slow but picks up some urgency. Unfortunately, I had several problems with it.

The narrative is first-person with the framing that the narrator/protagonist is writing this many years later. I've never been one to worry about how I'm getting a first-person account so this conceit that has the narrator breaking in now and then with a comment about the future or a "Little did I know at the time, but later..." annoys me by knocking me out of the immediacy of the story. Seriously, don't remind me that you'll survive to tell this story. Stackpole makes this worse by having the narrator break in now and then with a bolt of insight from the future that's completely unnecessary because he soon shows it happening. Thus, I'm broken out of the feel of immediacy several times for what turns out to be an unneeded remark. It feels crude.

I also feel that Hawkins doesn't work well as a viewpoint character. Yes, he does and sees all kinds of amazing things but his usual "aw shucks" demeanor drains them of majesty or danger. He's so matter of fact that some of his foes seem a lot less dangerous than they probably are. I think third-person, with some outside views of him, would have been a better choice. Some authors can find a way to show that a first-person or close-third-person narrator is unreliable or not totally informed of some things, but Stackpole doesn't do it.

At one point when the more interesting characters leave the narrative the book bogs down and dies, at least for me. It doesn't help that there's also a lot of dry summarization after that point.

There are a lot of battle scenes, but sometimes the descriptions don't let me know what's going on.

Finally, our protagonist makes a plethora of stupid assumptions at the end that lead to a cliffhanger that bored me completely. To be continued? I don't care. I'm not following any further.
Profile Image for Sarah.
311 reviews14 followers
September 8, 2011
My husband recommended this book for me, and generally I trust his recommendations. And this book was certainly fabulous for most of my reading experience. I very much enjoyed the world Stackpole created for us to immerse ourselves in - the masks were an interesting and enriching part of the story. But I felt like I couldn't really get close to any of the characters. I wanted to, but they felt formal and distant. Tarrant a little less than the others, obviously.

My biggest problem with this book was the ending. Stackpole led us into this fantastic geographical area, set up the bones for an amazing plot, and then had the main character lose consciousness. Then, the author gilded over what could have been a chance for great character and plot development and simply ended the book. Maybe this was because this book is meant to be a prequel to another series, but it was completely frustrating to myself as a reader and soured my desire to read the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Geoff Copper.
156 reviews
September 18, 2015
Enjoyable, if not as immersive as I wanted it to be. The pacing is good (doesn't dwell too long on the 'boring' parts, doesn't rush through the important parts), the primary characters are all easy to identify with and like, and there's plenty of action throughout.

A major thing I thought was missing was a sense of urgency - it didn't feel as though the threat of the antagonist was as pressing or all-consuming, despite the ever present hordes invading from the north. Minor gripes included the complicated world map - there seemed to be about twenty 'countries' too many - and some of the editing was imprecise ('trial-markings,' things of this nature).

Nevertheless, despite the flaws I still enjoyed the book and was rooting for Hawkins...and will hope that the next three books don't just leave these threads dangling entirely.
Profile Image for J.F..
Author 13 books259 followers
February 8, 2012
I'm a huge Michael Stackpole fan, but this one goes beyond that. I've often said that, to be interesting and engaging, a POV character in a first person narrative has to be something of an ass, opinionated, cocky and full of snark. With this book, Stackpole proves that isn't necessarily true.

The protagonist is a genuinely good person, nice, respectful even, but he manages to be likable without being saccharine which is no small achievement in storytelling. The Dark Glory War is a prequel to The Dragon Crown Cycle, which I also enjoyed immensely. A word of warning, though. You want to make sure to can pick up the next book immediately and start reading, because after The Dark Glory War is over, you will *have* to dive back into the world,
Profile Image for Ericka ☾⋆.
747 reviews73 followers
August 27, 2017
This was a VERY slow read for me. I would pick it up to try and read it, but I could never read more than a few chapters at a time. I didn't start getting emmersed in the story until about 2/3rds of my way through the book. Somewhere around the first 1/3rd I realized that the main character (Tarrant) really bored me, but I stuck around for Leigh and Nay because I actually liked them.. they seemed more versatile as characters.
I still enjoyed the story as a whole. It's really different than what I usually read. I didn't plan on reading the trilogy that follows until around the last 100 pages. It's weird to see how other people in the reviews took the ending. I'm seeing a few people hated on it, but I actually really liked it.
Profile Image for Daniel Rose.
116 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2012
Book was intersting and caught my attention and kept me enthrawled through the first half. However it was if the writer ran into a wall especially after writing this after he had written the previous three books in the series. The book seemed honestly to drag out and I kept wanting to just quit reading it as the battle sequences and story seemed way to perdictable they felt rushed and it reminded me of a movie that had potential but was botched halfway through and ended badly.

I haven't read the other three books and this being the pre-quel it doesn't give me much hope that the other books will be any better.
Profile Image for Jillian.
36 reviews2 followers
September 20, 2007
I got this and three other books (the series in full, as it were) from a friend for either birthday or christmas .....needless to say it got put on the back burner (as happens so often when you approach a series read...) until recently.

The book is entertaining and the world that the fantasy takes place in is well developed. I found the concepts that the author used to base his universe on very canon for sci-fi/fantasy but at the same time, they had that tinge of uniqueness that makes things more interesting.

I am pretty excited to read the next installment of the series.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
1,029 reviews24 followers
June 21, 2010
A must read, don't miss it. One of Stackpole's finest novels to date. There is strong character representation in here, and a well-described world. Few authors can pull off a convincing first-person narrative, and Stackpole's experience in this area sets the stage for a rivetting plot. The new twist this time is that the narrator (Tarrant Hawkins) is clearly speaking about past events. This technique will whet your appetite for a sequel; definitely read this novel before the Dragoncrown War books, as it gives a solid platform for those novels to launch from.
Profile Image for Leah.
93 reviews16 followers
April 23, 2018
A little conflicted about this one. The world is interesting and Tarrant is a likeable protagonist, but it was at times too martial for my tastes and lacked supporting character development in meaningful ways. Not to mention the lack of compelling female characters. There were maybe... three, four of any importance?
But those last ten pages, just... wow. I almost wish the story had started there and worked backwards. That was the kind of complexity I'd been wanting all along.
Overall, compelling enough for me to pick up the next in the series.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 56 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.