Order of the Scales is the third book in the planned trilogy: Memory of Flames set in the Dragon Realms and follows the individual storylines of the different Kings and Queens of the Dragon Realms to a satisfactory closure.
Stephen Deas continues to do what he does best: skyrocket the tale forward in a brutal breathlessly frenetic manner and kill off people you care about, leaving the world a burnt-out smoky ruin with stragglers and fire-breathing dragons for survivors. If anything, the pacing is even better in the third book as we finally get to the big showdown that the Dragon Realms have been waiting for, for the past two books. All that scheming, skullduggery, backstabbing and bloody politicking finally comes to a grand finale – fiery, brutal and shocking one at that – as the battles for supremacy between Kings and Queens and the awakened dragons and the Adamantine Men comes to a head. It is guaranteed fireworks and wholesome entertainment – bloody pitched battles on dragon-mounts between the ill-fated Kings and Queens and the epic grand-scale destructions under-way when dragons seek revenge against men who have enslaved them for generations.
Order, obviously being the third book doesn’t suffer from the backstory expositions or character arc evolutions that might weigh the pace down. It’s an all-out glorious war here and it spills forth onto the pages in a rude bloody manner, taking no prisoners, going about its bloody destructive business. Only for a breather between the fights, are we taken back to the hapless Kemir, the lone outsider and sell-sword who is stuck with the mighty White Dragon Snow, thirsting for revenge against the little ones (humans). That track was probably the slowest and indeed, I felt for most parts, where was this being driven to.
Switching back to the wily scheming Jehal, the outraged princess Zafir who wants nothing more than Jehal’s head on a pike or body swinging in a cage and rest of the backstabbing lot of Dragon princes and princess’, the book takes off on a rollicking pace, hidden surprises around every other corner. There are no good or evil among the characters. Each of them consumed by their over-arching desires, greed and -hatred for the Throne in this harsh desolate lands of the Dragon-realms. Deas sits down and gives us readers a deeper glimpse of that wonderful world he has been hinting at over the previous two books and he does this without sacrificing any pace. And still there are mysteries worth lingering for in this overall story arc. And Deas holds onto the suspense without giving a lot away. Maybe Black Mausoleum finally reveals all but for all the conflicts that was gathering heat over the last two books, we are in for a gruesome surprise climax that will blow your minds away.
Jehal still remains my favorite character, raw human ambition that succeeds but at what cost. A greedy scheming cunning man who doesn’t feel remorse for his ambitious overtures that has spilled many a lives. Deas introduces a far many new twists as well – our first glimpse of the mysterious tai-taikayei, Elemental men who can disappear at will, the Silver Kings or magicians. All these however are brief and are without any hint at explainations. Perhaps the next outing into the Realms will sort that out?
Epic fantasy at it’s gratifying best in terms of pacing and closure – A setting that sparks off political scheming and backstabbing, terrifying man-eating dragons that seethe with rage and fire, jet-setting fiery pace, layers and sub-plots that abound and mystify, breath-taking magnificent dragon-battles. Highly recommended series, purely for the fun and thrill-ride it offers powered on dragon-wings.