Dragon Prince: Now on audio!

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsDragon Prince by Melanie Rawn

Melanie Rawn’s DRAGON PRINCE trilogy is finally being produced in audio format by Tantor Audio. The series begins with Dragon Prince (1985) and follows the inhabitants of a continent divided into several princedoms and ruled by a nasty and ruthless High Prince who has 17 bratty daughters but no male heir.

At the beginning of Dragon Prince, the prince of the desert region of the continent is killed while dragon-hunting and is succeeded by his son Rohan. Rohan’s youth and bookish nature do not inspire much confidence from his subjects and the High Prince and other princes assume they can take advantage of him. (There are some women in the family, including Rohan’s strong and competent older sister, who probably would have made excellent rulers, but nobody in this culture seems to consider the possibility that a woman could do that job.)Dragon Prince Audiobook – Unabridged Christa Lewis (Narrator),‎ Melanie Rawn (Author),‎ Tantor Audio (Publisher)

The first thing Rohan needs is a suitable wife. His aunt, who leads the institution where those with magical talents (the Sunrunners) are trained, chooses a young woman named Sioned and sends her to the desert to be Rohan’s wife. Some of the High Prince’s scheming daughters, eager to escape his household but not willing to diminish their noble standing, also have their greedy little eyes on the new prince of the desert. But Rohan and his allies know that marrying one of the High Prince’s daughters will almost certainly shorten his lifespan because once he produces a male heir, he’s expendable.

Dragon Prince covers the first several years of Rohan’s reign when he and his allies are challenged by assassination attempts, betrayals, kidnappings, miscarriages, plague, dangerous horse races, knife fights, a baby-swapping scheme, and even drug addiction. Rohan is a noble prince who wants to elevate the level of civility in his land. He has the best of intentions for his people, as well as the dragons who were hunted under his ancestors’ reigns, but the stressors he faces from opposing forces sometimes lead him to actions that he feels are just as barbaric as his enemies’. He spends a lot of time regretting this, feeling like a failure, and lamenting the consequences of power. (Actually, Rohan is so noble-minded that he’s a little bit boring.) Sioned, also, is confused about her actions, and her adherence to her own values is tested multiple times.

Romance features heavily in Dragon Prince, but I found it unsatisfying. Rohan and his wife-to-be declare their feelings early on and seem to be yielding to match-making or destiny rather than love (though they quickly discover that they do love each other). With all those scheming princesses, this part of the plot, which is significant, could have held some delicious romantic tension, but it didn’t. Another aspect of Dragon Prince that disappointed me was the lack of challenge to their patriarchal society. Melanie Rawn’s female characters are strong and smart, so I kept hoping to see them defy the idea that a ruler must have a male heir and that a woman who doesn’t bear him one must resort to unethical behaviors to provide one. Maybe this will happen in one of the sequels. I will keep hoping.

Dragon Prince was narrated by Christa Lewis who does a nice job with all of the voices. It’s 22 hours long. The next novel, which continues the story of Prince Rohan and his family, is The Star Scroll, which I’ll be reviewing soon.

Published in print in 1985, in audio in 2017. In this unsettled world, the death of the ruler of the desert princedom becomes the catalyst for power games of magical treachery as rival factions – from the evil High Prince to the leader of the Sunrunners to the newly crowned Prince of the Desert – seek to alter the course of their world.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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4 comments

  1. Stuart /

    I bought this series back when they came out in the mid-1980s almost entirely due to the gorgeous cover art by Michael Whelan and cover art (the same thing for C.S. Friedman’s In Conquest Born and Madness Season), and then never had time to read any of them. Based on your review, I think I’d rather go with Tad William’s Memory, Sorrow & Thorn trilogy, which also feature some amazing work by Whelan. Is it just me or does his artwork really grab the eye? Also feel that way about Jim Burns’ luxurious SF cover art.

    • I agree that the artwork is beautiful and I was sorely disappointed to see the cover of the audiobook. Obviously, they didn’t have the rights to Whelan’s cover art.

  2. Agreed on the cover art. The audio cover is terrible. If they couldn’t get good art, couldn’t they have done something a bit more stylistic so it didn’t look like a cheesy 1979 monster flick.

    I loved these books, all six of them, back in the day when I first read them. I wonder if they would hold up for me?

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