REVIEW SUMMARY: An inventive climax and conclusion to the Daniel Blackland (Osteomancer) Trilogy
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Daniel sets up his most improbable heist yet, as he plans to impersonate his half brother, possible heir to the Kingdom of Northern California
PROS: Even more stuffed with worldbuilding and intriguing concepts
CONS: Narrative is a bit too brisk, would have preferred a more detailed and slower exploration of the vistas and characters.
BOTTOM LINE: An entertaining finale to the Daniel Blackland trilogy.
Daniel Blackland, the most powerful Osteomancer, has a problem. Or at least, a new, bigger problem. His adoptive son, the clone of the now dead Hierarch of Los Angeles, is trapped inside the body of a superweapon, a reconstituted dragon. Daniel has a plan for yet another heist and crazy plan to get Sam out and stop the dragon’s rampage, but it won’t require him sneaking into the Hierarch’s vault, or into a secret compound and lab. This time, Daniel has to impersonate the powerful North Californian magician he killed at that lab: his own half brother, Paul.
The Daniel Blackland novels feature heist plotting, a set of interesting characters, an intriguing magic system and a world that isn’t quite ours but is close enough for government work, and Dragon Coast lives up to the tradition of its predecessors, California Bones and Pacific Fire. Jumping off not long after the cataclysmic events at the end of Pacific Fire, Daniel’s quest to undo the mistakes at the end of that book make this a crackerjack plot that, of course, never goes quite as planned.
The Northern Californian setting for most of this book’s action was a good choice, since it gives that author a different venue for Daniel and his friends. Unlike California Bones, where the reader was led by the characters into understanding their world, neither the characters or the readers are in on the cutthroat politics and the rules are different. This provides for some sharp turns of plot and character as Daniel’s impersonation of Paul is nowhere as easy as he thinks it is–and he has no illusions that this is going to be a cakewalk.
As much as I liked seeing Paul, and unexpectedly Sam, and the rest of the characters held over from the first two novels, it is the new characters in Northern California, under the leadership of Daniel’s mother, that really took center stage for me. It’s a realm both the same and distinctly from Southern California, and seeing Daniel and his crew navigate that realm, and its differences, are some of the best parts of the book. We don’t get a POV from any of the Northern Californians, and I wish we had, if only to provide yet a different angle and perspective.
That, however, is a minor concern. My only real issue with the book, and its of a piece with the previous two novels, is that the novels are a bit too brisk. I really noticed in Dragon Coast that I was left hungry for more: of the characters, of the vistas, and the world. I think the book could have, without ruining the snare drum roll of a pace, been a bit longer, answering even more questions and fleshing out the narrative.
Overall, this series as a whole is inventive, entertaining, and fun, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any and all fantasy fans.