Hayden's Reviews > Dragon's Trail

Dragon's Trail by Joseph  Malik
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's review
Oct 07, 2016

it was amazing
bookshelves: hard-fantasy
Recommended for: Sword geeks, Historical Fantasy readers, Hard Fantasy readers, Realism geeks
Read 2 times. Last read September 27, 2016 to October 7, 2016.

Fantastical realism on an unprecedented scale. Hard fantasy of the first order. A masterful work.

Full disclosure: I met Joseph Malik a few years ago at a fantasy convention where he was demonstrating various combat techniques and speaking as an expert on military strategy. He is a brilliant and articulate speaker, with a seemingly endless reservoir of knowledge about the finer points of making war. I have also seen him shoulder-throw a man in full armor while wearing a jacket and tie.

When I learned from a mutual friend that Mr. Malik had written a fantasy novel, I hoped for that rare fantasy novel that gets it’s fight scenes correct. What I got was so much more: an epic-scale fantasy written in breathtaking detail by a master swordsman and brilliant military strategist.

It’s not just the fighting. The details, and the realism are startling. (Sword frogs! Di Grassi thrusts! Riveted maille!) I can’t imagine the amount of research Mr. Malik put into this novel. If you enjoy realism in your fantasy, you’ve been waiting for this book.

Just one example: one of the characters carries a greatsword with the swordbelt on one shoulder, like a purse. I own a greatsword and when I carry mine, I rest it on my shoulder like a spear. It is impossible to draw a large sword from behind your back (Conan-style), the way movies and books always show. But, hanging the belt on one shoulder, the way Mr. Malik writes it, a greatsword carries comfortably and very practically, and very easily-accessible. Here’s the thing: I OWN this sword and this has never occurred to me. That moment when an author knows more about your own sword than you do.

With hundreds if not thousands of details like this, the world turns like a jeweled watch around the characters. The story is an outrageously-witty, new take on the parallel-universes trope, masterfully-told by a man deeply-knowledgable, and obviously a man passionate about his work. This could only have been a leviathan effort and obviously a lifelong labour of love. I am glad that someone finally wrote this book, and I am very glad that it was Mr. Malik. Bravissimo, maestro.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 27, 2016 – Started Reading
October 7, 2016 – Shelved
October 7, 2016 – Shelved as: hard-fantasy
October 7, 2016 – Finished Reading

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