Plague of Dragons
Tom Wood & Robert Weinberg
"Hellfire: Plague of Dragons" is a lavishly illustrated adult fantasy book that explores the world of dragons through the discovery of a lost manuscript and artwork by a 14th century French Knight, Sir Robert of Averoigne, recently found in the Historical Museum of New York. His illuminated manuscript reveals the story of an unknown plague of dragons in Europe that killed tens of thousands along with the Black Death. The tale of the invasion by dragons has been untold and unrecorded - until now"
This book was quite a weird one, despite its massive size, (more akin to the size of an annual than a novel), it’s really just a short story, clocking in at around the hundred and thirty page mark, with almost half of that given up to illustrations.
Hellfire is the “true story” of the time when dragons ruled the earth. The book makes the claim that, following the black death, a second plague hit the earth as dragons began appearing around the world and attacking humans, this chapter of history supposedly slipping into myth and secrecy as the result of a church conspiracy.
I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m not a huge fantasy fan. However, I’ve been making some effort to read some more and to try and get into the genre. After this book though, I might reconsider that for a little while.
I really didn’t enjoy this book and, despite its short length, I found it a real chore to try and get through.
The actual plot of the novel sees a knight known as Thomas the Dragon Slayer sent on a mission by the pope to destroy as many of the dragons as possible. He is accompanied by a ragtag group of other adventurers and his brother, who chronicles the journey.
A decent enough premise for a story perhaps, but sadly, the book quickly devolves into quick and dull episodes that all blend into each other upon reflection. Basically, the knights arrive at a town, meet a dragon, kill it and move on. There’s no real drama, no character, no struggle, no arc to any of the chapters, they all just sort of happen, with no real consequence.
The story is backed up by multiple full page (sometimes double page) illustrations by Tom Wood. These images fit the story well and are impressive but are also incredibly generic. You’ll feel like you’ve seen these all before in any cheap fantasy art book, there’s nothing unique to be found.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I picked this book up, but the air of mystery the book had disappeared quickly and left a bad taste in my mouth.
If you’re a hardcore fantasy fan, you might want to pick this up for the art, but if you’re looking for an engaging story, you’d best look elsewhere.