“My name is Amun Galeas and it is hard for me to fathom that I now live in an age of instant communication. But then again, I’ve said similar things about many an age for as long as I can remember…”
The Order of the Dragon (2016) (224 pages)
Written by Phil Hore.
Followed by The Long Sleep (2016)
The first in a trilogy of novels by Australian author Phil Hore, The Order of the Dragon introduces us to two very different characters: the learned, dryly humorous Amun Galeus, and his hulking friend Sebastian Vulk. While this might sound like standard bickering buddies fare, the novel doesn’t descend into cliché: it’s a fun, pulp horror piece that starts off slow, but once it hits its stride, rockets like a freight train. Fans of Mark Frost’s The List of Seven and The Six Messiahs will find a great deal to like in The Order of the Dragon.
It would be a terrible disservice to the reader to divulge too much about the story, as the author takes great pains to reveal only a little at a time, keeping you on edge and telling yourself that you’ll just finish this chapter and go to sleep…until you’re reading the next chapter, too. And the one after that. We do know that Amun, the protagonist, is unimaginably old, but the nature and origin of his character remain mysterious. He only tells you what he thinks you should know, not what you want to know, which can be maddening at times. Vulk is a simpler figure, but no less interesting for that; I wish there were a bit more of him in the story.
The author’s knowledge of late 19th century London is both obvious and effortless, putting you right in the middle of the setting without taking you out of it with anachronism or excessive detail. Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker become important characters, which is a nice, amusing touch, though their contributions are somewhat diluted by the sheer size of the cast. Astute readers will appreciate the addition of other historical figures as cameos.
There’s a great deal of action, not to mention blood, with enough swordfights and gunplay to fill three novels, let alone one. Elements of whodunit and why are sprinkled evenly throughout, deepening the mystery. The Order of the Dragon is a fun start to what promises to be an exciting series, and I’m looking forward to the second book.