Exciting Epic Adventure with The Wyremweald Trilogy
This epic adventure has it all, vast harsh landscapes, dangerous bad guys who are beyond simple evil and beautiful mysterious girls. Beyond this, the YA fantasy has dragons, beautiful ones and we have the illustrations to prove it.
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell are best known for their award-winning Edge Chronicles, so it is no wonder that this trio of stories is captivating and filled with memorable characters. If you are a fan of their original series, then this may be the time to check out their latest, The Wyremweald Trilogy.
A Western Setting for Epic Fantasy
Most epic fantasy tales have a more forest and castles type of setting. Although we get a taste of this at the beginning of the series when Micah, our young hero, is working at a farm in his home village we quickly leave this behind. For it is the Wyremweald, a vast desert outback, much like America’s Wild West, that calls to the boy. He ventures into the harsh and largely forgotten territory in search of “returner’s wealth”. It can be the egg of a great whitewyrme or a handful of gems, but either way it will be dangerous to procure and set you up for a life of luxury. He is determined to bring it back from the Wyremweald and win the hand of the local lord’s daughter.
But even that dream is soon lost in the wild country as we visit trading posts where a man can have his throat slit as easily as his boots stolen. Chris Riddell is like a painter, showing us the wild landscape that is every bit as important as the characters that populate it. It is almost unbearably hot and dry in summer, so cold in winter that the locals who do live here simply burrow into the earth until spring’s thaw.
And the locals do exist, though they are scattered across the land. We meet the desperate and the dangerous men (and a few women) who have chosen to come and seek their fortune. Mostly they do this through violence, including some quite horrific scenes where the dragons, called the wyrems here, are hunted mercilessly. Despite the dragons, this is not a series for young children, I will warn you.
That wyrems are sentient is obvious by their bonding with the kin, humans who have a unique connection and ride with the dragons to help protect them from the “two-skins” as they call humans who wear the skins of dead wyrems. For this trio of tales concerns more than just the humans who come looking for adventure in the Wyremweald. It is also a tale of the great herds of the many kinds of wyrems who live here, and their search for survival. Like the vanished buffalo of the old Wild West, I found myself wondering if man’s greed is even capable of letting such power and beauty survive.
The beginning of our epic adventure, we meet Micah as he makes the decision to leave his village and seek his fortune in the Wyremweald. Although 17, he is a bit of a dreamer and hardly ready for the harsh realities of this land. Close to death, he is rescued by Eli, a tracker who has grown accustom to the solitary life. In time, Micah shows that he is worth having along, and the quiet man finds himself warming to the boy.
Together they cross windswept country, visit hidden pocket canyons of grace and beauty and watch the sky for the wyrems. But when they find a kin, a companion of a great whitewyrem, they also become involved with saving a valued hatchling. The beautiful slender Thrace is kin, one who can never mix with others. And yet, there is an undeniable attraction between Thrace and Micah, one that can only in the end spell sorrow. Can they save the hatchling, protect the wyrme from the marauding poachers and still find themselves in this unforgiving land?
Originally released in a stunningly illustrated hardcover, this has been recently made available again, this time in paperback and a new kindle edition. If you are a fan of Paul Stewart’s art, the kindle edition does not do them justice, just a warning. It is really my only complaint of the series.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Returner’s Wealth through NetGalley.
Having survived the harrowing adventures of the first book, our heroes Micah, Eli and the wyrme-rider Thrace are holed up for the winter in Eli’s winter den. The winter cold outside is brutal, and even the most hardened of adventurers knows better than to venture out into it. But their actions have drawn the attention of an evil and dangerous group.
They have sent their assassin out to track the trio down to their den, and destroy it. Normally it would be impossible to convince anyone to leave the shelter of the deep caves and venture through this winter wasteland. But bloodhoney is a powerful blend of alcohol and potions that can make anyone attempt the impossible. It might even give them the ability to accomplish it. As the three friends settle in for a long winter hidden below ground, they may not be as safe as they think they are.
This is the final book in the epic adventure’s saga as everything that has gone before comes to a head. The wyrems are being hunted viciously by kith bandits who will stop at nothing to gain the treasured oil sacs within the throat of the great whitewyrems. The slaughter has grown enormous and although Micah and his friends have never stopped in their battle to protect the creatures, they feel it is a losing proposition.
But deep in the wilderness the leader of the greatest of the whitewyrme bands has called for war. They will fly away and desert the land no longer. Prepared to defend their homes, they are a formidable enemy to all. But can they surmount the terrible odds? And if they do, will they seek revenge on all kin and kith? The final battle is about to begin…
There are a few used copies of the hardcover edition for those who want to track down those illustrations. For the rest of us, the paperback (which is still quite nice) and the Kindle edition (which is more portable but forget trying to see those chapter illustrations) are still available from the nice folks at Amazon.