Series Review: The Dragon Brigade by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes

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I recently finished the final book in this trilogy, and it was an enjoyable ride. I’ve read Weis’s work before. I enjoyed the original Dragonlance trilogy, though it is pretty cliched stuff by today’s standards. Her Death Gate Cycle (also with Tracy Hickman) was one of those series that I really grew to love by the end. It was similar to Dragonlance in some ways, but it showed more depth and an interesting world (or rather, multiple worlds).

This series has a very different feel. It’s a world of magic and airships and dragons. Most notably, it does not have the generic Tolkienesque/D&D races that I’ve come to expect from Weis. That, for me, was a major bonus. I don’t hate these races by any means, but I rarely see them done in a way that feels fresh.

I’ve always felt the biggest strength of Weis and her various partners (from what I’ve read) is creating characters that are fun to read about. This series is no exception. I loved the dynamics between friends Stefano and Rodrigo. The priest, Father Jacob, was also a lot of fun to read about.

Description of the first book (from Goodreads):

“The known world floats upon the Breath of God, a thick gas similar to Earth’s oceans, with land masses accessible by airship. The largest of these land masses are ruled by the rival empires of Freya and Rosia. Magic is intrinsic to the functioning of these societies, and is even incorporated into their technological devices. But now a crucial scientific discovery has occurred that could destroy the balance of power-and change the empires forever.”

I’m personally not a fan of this description. It’s a bunch of worldbuilding without giving us much about plot or character. The world is fun, but there’s a lot more to the series than that.

My reviews of each book:

BOOK 1:

“Overall, this was a very enjoyable mixture of Steampunk and High Fantasy. The start was a bit slow, but there was a lot of great action in the last two thirds of the book. The writing is nothing special, but that didn’t bother me. I found myself connecting with the characters. It’s nice to see authors who still like their heroes on the heroic side.

Weis has worked both alone and with co-authors during her career. I haven’t read all her stuff, but I’d say this is probably the best first book in a series I’ve read by her. The Death Gate Cycle comes in second while Dragonlance is a distant third.

This one did recycle some ideas from the Death Gate cycle, but that didn’t bother me. This one is definitely more modern in feel. I also like that it’s a Gunpowder fantasy. It’s kind of nice to see a mixture of guns and dragons (and airships).

Overall, I recommend this book for readers who are looking for something that will hit the same spot as Chris Wooding’s Ketty Jay series and Jim Butcher’s Cinder Spires. While it’s not as good as either of those series, I enjoyed it.”

Rating: 8/10

BOOK 2

“This was an enjoyable book, probably on par with the first in the series. The characters are fun, the world is interesting, and there’s some good action. These books don’t quite make it into my list of favorites, but I still enjoy them quite a bit.”

Rating: 8/10

BOOK 3

“I really liked this conclusion to the Dragon Brigade trilogy. The final battle was very epic, and I enjoyed spending time with these characters throughout the trilogy. This series is loaded with action, airships, floating islands, and fun characters. It’s a testament to the fact that Weis can write good stories outside of her Dragonlance work.”

Rating: 9/10

Overall, I’d give the series an 8.5. It’s nothing complex, but it was fun to read, and a lot of times, that’s all I’m looking for.

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