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The Rage by Richard Lee Byers

Posted by travizzt on November 11, 2010

When dragons go on a rampage, the world is doomed. Is The Rage a good beginning to a trilogy or should it go mad along with the dragons?

The Rage by Richard Lee Byers- This is the first book in The Year of Rogue Dragons trilogy. The second book is titled The Rite and the third book is titled The Ruin. The Rage is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of Dungeons and Dragons. Richard Lee Byers has written a number of books, mostly focused on the horror genre; Deathward, Fright Line, The Vampire’s Apprentice, Dark Fortune, Dead Time, The Tale of Terrible Toys, and The Children of Gaia and Uktena: Werewolf, 5. His also contributed a number of stories to other series including; Nightmare Club (Joyride, Warlock Games, and Party Til You Drop), World of Darkness (Caravan of Shadows, Netherworld: Vampire, On a Darkling Plane, and Wraith: The Ebon Mask), a X-Men based  novel titled Soul Killer, and a Warhammer based novel titled The Enemy Within. His also written a trilogy for the Scarred Lands called Dead God trilogy (Forsaken, Forsworn, and Forbidden). He has written a number of Forgotten Realms novels as well; a novel and a short story in the Sembia: Gateway to the Realms series (the short story is found in the first book of the series, The Halls of Stormweather, and wrote the third book, The Shattered Mask), wrote the first novel in R. A. Salvatore’s War of the Spider Queen series called Dissolution, a novel in The Rogues series called The Black Bouquet, a book in The Priests series called Queen of the Depths, The Haunted Lands trilogy (Unclean, Undead, and Unholy) and he is working on finishing The Brotherhood of the Griffon trilogy (The Captive Flame, Whisper of Venom, and The Spectral Blaze). He’s also contributed a vast amount of short stories to various anthologies. The Rage was released in April 2004 and published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

An uncontrollable urge, or rage, has struck dragonkind on Faerun, causing them to go on murderous rampages. Even the goodly metallic dragons are struck with the affliction. With little to no hope of stopping the condition, many dragons choose to be put in a deep sleep, hopefully stopping the urge. However, not all dragons choose to do this and are trying to fight off the urge. However bad this may be, a group of hunters find this to be good news, or at least good news in the eyes of the leader. Dorn, a half-golem human who hates all of dragonkind, leads a group of hunters that specialize in killing dragons. He couldn’t be happier. However, his companions see it in a different, more terrifying light. With dragons losing the ability to reason, they would be an unstoppable force, laying waste to the world and could cause the extinction of the populace. However, after the hunters help an injured bard, she asks them if they could help escort her to Lyrabar, a city in the country of Impiltur. The group, actually more like Dorn, reluctantly agree and they set sail. However, the bard, Kara, has secrets of her own. Meanwhile, in Lyrabar, a spy learns more than he should and runs for to the aid of his swordsmanship teacher, an avariel (or flying elf) named Taegan Nightwind. However, he’s too late and gives Taegan what he stole, a folio of important notes. What is Kara’s secret and will Dorn and the hunters still help her after they find out? What’s the importance of the folio and does it contain information on how to stop the rage?

1) Dorn. Dorn really brings down the novel. He is just bad. He’s poorly developed, unlikable, and comes across as more of a chore to read about than he should be. Basically, he is a good idea gone horribly wrong. The idea of a half-golem human is really interesting and he also has an interesting back story. However, when it comes down to it, he is little more than a whiny character with no deeper motivation. While he may have gained a new outlook on things towards the end, but it never feels like it. His changes come across as more forced and unrealistic. What’s worse is that he brings down the hunters and Kara. With Dorn being the leader of the group, almost everyone in it suffers. It’s obvious that the group would be in better hands with anyone but him leading. He comes across as selfish and ignorant early on, definitely not the type of person you want leading. It just gets worse with Kara who develops an interest in the half-golem. Why? I have no idea because it seems to spring out of thin air. It would have been different if we see a relationship or attraction start, but we don’t. This comes across as so farfetched and unbelievable that at times I just skipped the ‘touching’ scenes between them because they didn’t belong.  Dorn is what really ruins this book. He’s not good, he has no personality, he’s just a good idea gone bad, and he almost ruins the more interesting characters.
2) Dire. The situations that occur never came across as dire or life threatening, nor do they even seem that important. When we are thrust into the story, and I never felt like the events really were impacting the world as a whole. They came across as small and insignificant, bordering on pointless at times. In fact, the characters in the book didn’t really seem to cringe at the prospects of dragons raging. It never felt like it phased the people. There wasn’t the impact that was attended. Also, injuries to the main characters never seem to be all that life threatening. Having Pavel instantly heal them a few seconds later or having a potion conveniently on hand. This gets more frustrating as the story goes on, especially during a scene at the end. By that time we know they are going to be perfectly fine. It just felt like no one was in any real harm.
3) Story. The story just appears. There is no build up or anything, instead we are launched into a situation with little to no knowledge or idea about what is occurring. This really harms the overall immersion, because you are busy trying to understand what is going on rather than enjoying what’s happening. This felt more like a second or third book in a series rather than a first. There never seemed to be a time when the story slowed down enough to allow the reader time to understand what’s going on. It doesn’t help that things move so quickly that more questions arise every other chapter. Overall, the story was sudden and left too much unsaid and much to be desired.

1) Taegan. Taegan Nightwind almost single-handedly saves The Rage. He took the story and made it his own, easily stealing scenes from people like Dorn, which isn’t hard to do. But Taegan did it with gusto that it was very impressive. What makes Taegan so great? Well, he has a likable personality and is surprisingly entertaining while talking. He makes the act of talking exciting. He comes across as a real rake, with a suave personality and a charm about him. That alone is great, however Taegan takes it a step further. He is of a rare breed of elves, that aren’t seen much and that adds more of a mysterious quality to him. In fact, I don’t believe there is any other stories that prominently feature a flying elf. After reading this, I wanted to find out as much as I could about avariels. Everything about him is unique and really drew me in. However, he doesn’t appear until close to halfway through, but he still left an amazing impression.
2) Banter. There is some very amusing banter found in The Rage. It mostly occurs between two of the hunters, the priest named Pavel and the thief named Will, and it is really humorous and lighthearted. Hearing Will call Pavel a sham of a priest or making fun of his healing abilities did put a smile on my face. Also, hearing Pavel’s retorts are as amusing. This really helps ground the pair and makes them come across as real friends. It really cements the friendship and reminds me of how real-life friends talk to one another. This does add a dash of realism to the story. The banter also helps the story be more bearable and interesting. The banter does a great job at making the story fun.

Side Notes:
1) Dragons. I always thought that Dungeon and Dragons dragons were forces to be reckoned with, almost impossible to kill. Yet, in The Rage they seem weak and easy. It could be blamed on the rage, but I highly doubt that. Also, there are a lot of different kinds of dragons introduced that I wish there was more said about them.
2) Avariels. Like I already mentioned, after reading this I became really interested in learning more about avariels. They are interesting and it’s a shame that there isn’t a lot of books and stories written about the elusive elves.
3) Cover Art. The cover art for The Rage is good. The dragon on the cover looks really good, the background does look good albeit a little stock, and the scene at the bottom does look great. The only issue I have is that the scene depicted never happens in the novel. Sure it may be happening somewhere else, but when I look at a cover, I kind of expect it to represent some scene in the novel. That’s the only disappointment in an otherwise wonderful cover.

Overall: 2/5
Final Thoughts:
The Rage is a poor beginning for a trilogy. The story just suddenly happened, with little to no build-up of the characters or events. It took time to understand what was happening, rather than just enjoying the story. Also, nothing seemed all that dire, even through the story tried to convey how dangerous the situation is. I never felt like it mattered and that the characters were in any real danger. However, the worst part of The Rage is Dorn. He almost ruins anything the novel could have accomplished. He was unlikable, under developed, and severely misused. But, thanks to Taegan the story is bearable. He is The Rage‘s biggest saving grace, but he just had too much to overcome. Another good thing is the witty and fun banter that is tossed back and forth between Pavel and Will. This does make some scenes fun, but overall, it barely helps with getting through the story. All in all, I could just recommend The Rage solely for Taegan, but that’s a long shot. Read at your own risk.

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