Excerpt of Dragon's Rook review by Fletcher Vredenburgh, Black Gate magazine:
I appreciate the time Brand took to explore...characters and put them on display. By book’s end, Kieran the hidden-king and Yanamari the bold princess had become more than archetypes. They attained depth and personality. The same goes for Gaerbith and Maggie. Morfan, on the other hand, becomes more despicable and evil. Not a nuanced villain, but definitely a memorable one.
Once the tempo picks up Brand gets to show off...action-scene chops, and they are not lacking. The escape from Morfan’s castle is a real nailbiter. Wolves and wizards bear down on the heroes. There are several exciting battles between Gaerbith’s soldiers and the king’s. There’s a fight between a golden dragon and a silver one that’s an absolute blast, leading to my favorite single image in the book.
“Dragon’s blood!” someone shouted.
The cry was taken up all along the line, but there was little shelter to protect the soldiers. The Dissonay rarely wore helms, and few of them fought with shields, for longswords were wielded with two hands. Even if there was something to hold over their heads or cover their bodies, there was no defense against the consuming fire.
More blood rained down in scattered drops. Silver produced shoots of green grass or succulent vines, buds of wildflowers or nascent trunks of trees. From the gold, fire withered the sudden new growth or charred the stones, even licked up the dust.
So, yeah, I like Dragon’s Rook a lot. I was very happy to get my prejudices tossed back at me and be reminded that it’s not the traditional trappings of fantasy that are boring, it’s what authors choose to do with them that’s boring. Brand has a big story... and has it under control, never letting the side events overwhelm the major ones.
I also like that there are good guys and bad guys. I’ve started working my way through some of the more prominent grimdark books lately, and I gotta say — it gets a little overwhelming. In my experience, there really are some good people and heroes out there. Not all the time, but much of the time. Brand doesn’t approach this simplistically, but ... does recognize that sometimes there really are heroes and villains.
Excerpt of Dragon's Rook review by Suzan Troutt, artist and writer, at Jade's Journal blog:
Brand’s story is not for the reader who wants a light tale. Though glints of humor and lively conversation shine through, the darkness in Dragon’s Rook is faced unflinching by the writer.
Tension and suspense are tightly wound in Dragon’s Rook. Can old enmities be put aside and characters become allies against a common enemy? Will these people keep their faith, or break it under trial?
This book asks some of the pressing questions we have in modern times–but they are set in a world lit by dragon fire.
Excerpt of Dragon's Rook review by Lovely_Loreley, reviewer at Online Book Club:
Dragon’s Rook by Keanan Brand is a highly developed epic, complete with heroes, servants of evil, Dragons, and magic. It has an ancient cadence that completely takes the reader out of this world and into a fantastic realm that rivals any other. Backstories and motives are revealed as the story unfolds, and intertwining viewpoints leave the reader eager to learn more.
I absolutely adored this story. Brand weaves his tale using a language style reminiscent of older times, which captivated my inner fantasy nerd (although he occasionally uses language so archaic that I needed to look up the words to be sure of my understanding). Certain characters were immediately established as key players; others were introduced as the story went on, but it was done in such a way that it never felt forced, even when the main storyline was interrupted by a few paragraphs about a character in a place that hadn’t yet been mentioned. The overall organization of the story was good, and the occasional sudden twists left me both confused and delighted.
As far as critique goes, there isn’t much to say. The first part of the story, introducing the various characters and key events, was a bit muddled because it changed viewpoints so often (sometimes three or four times during a single chapter). However, once the story settled into a pattern and stuck with one group or another for a few chapters, it was easier to keep the various plots and subplots straight...
Overall I would give Dragon’s Rook 4 out of 4 stars. This tale is suitable for readers of all ages, although the intermittent use of archaic language could prove challenging to a younger reader. It is both an interesting and an entertaining read, fast-paced and engaging. Not the sort of book I would choose for a bit of light reading, this story is more likely to be devoured in one or a few sittings – you have been warned! I am eagerly awaiting the second and final installment of the series, Dragon’s Bane, and I think any fantasy lover who gets a taste of Brand’s magic will do the same.
Excerpt of Dragon's Rook review by author and blogger Shannon McDermott:
In Dragon’s Rook, Keanan Brand spins a complex and epic tale. The novel is high fantasy, of an old-fashioned flavor. There are bits of an invented language, and the story is more multi-threaded than I see in most contemporary fantasy (excepting works by Stephen Lawhead, an old-fashioned author in his own right).
...It might have been possible to shorten [the novel, but] Dragon’s Rook ends in a good place as it is, with its climaxes and converging story lines. Additionally – I will confess it – I have seen so many trilogies, a duology spices things up a bit.
Dragon’s Rook features a large cast of characters, all realistically drawn and many vivid as well... The plot moves through many dangers, and the author lets this take its toll on the characters... Characters struggle with questions of suffering, God’s will, and their own free will... (T)he outward forms of religion are built into this world: churches (called kirks), priests, religious signs, funeral rituals. Superstitions and a dark, sorcerous order are also part of the religious landscape. In this, as in other ways, the world-building is realistic and thorough.
...Dragon’s Rook is strongly written, with beautiful phrases and evocative descriptions. It is a complex epic, drawing its characters from many different corners to face the revival of old hostilities, old legends, and old hopes. Recommended to all lovers of high fantasy.