‘Dragonslayer is the fourth epic instalment in the death-seeking saga of Gotrek and Felix. After the daring exploits in Daemonslayer, the fearless duo find themselves pursued by the insidious and ruthless skaven-lord, Grey Seer Thanquol. Dragonslayer sees the fearless Trollslayer and his sworn companion back aboard the arcane dwarf airship in search of a golden hoard – and its deadly guardian. ‘
You know what I really like about reviewing the Slayer series? There is very little to spoil. The titles says it all. So, the astute will know that King’s Dragonslayer is about slaying a dragon.
Readers of my previous Black Library reviews will remember one of my major objections to King’s Slayer series was that his development of secondary characters was ‘predictable or shallow at times’. I also objected to Felix’s many girlfriends, all of whom encumbered the plot and made certain parts of it drag. I was relieved to find that in Dragonslayer, this was not the case. The female love interest, Ulrika, was well-developed, realistically conflicted and, most importantly, added something to the plot. Instead of a vapid, whiny waste of textual flesh, she is a well-rounded, strong female character and a symbol of the human cost of the life Felix lives with Gotrek. I think AAA action movies could learn a thing or two about supporting female characterisation from King here.
As for the novel itself, carrying on from the grim events of Daemonslayer, Dragonslayer becomes steadily more grim. It is much darker in tone than its predecessors, less hopeful and less slapstick (with the exception of Bjorni, the sheep-seeking Slayer, who I do not want to spoil for those of you who might read the book). I liked this because I have a problem with literature and films that reinforce the illusion that everything is immediately ok after the bad-guy dies. Cities suddenly rebuilt a week after the final stand that took down countless buildings, deaths forgotten and no questions asked about safety from future attacks. All of these things annoy me, which is why I’m glad that after the fighting of the Slayer series, repairs have to be made, the viability of funerals are considered and delays have to happen. I appreciate the realistic treatment of fantasy, which is why I enjoy the Ice and Fire series, and probably why I’m enjoying the Slayer series more and more as it develops.
Also, I still don’t know exactly how and why Gotrek became a slayer. I won’t stop reading until I find out.