Eric Van Lustbader leads off his Pearl series by mixing science fiction and fantasy into an exciting adventure with The Ring of Five Dragons. Although much of the book's mythology is standard fantasy fare, Lustbader creates intriguing and conflicted characters and spins a complex world of religion, magic, and technology around them.
The Ring of Five Dragons tells the tale of the people of Kundala, who have suffered for 101 years under the oppression of the alien invaders, the V'ornn. The Kundalan people are treated as slaves by the technologically superior and Nazi-like V'ornn, who seek to dominate them and deplete the planet's resources. But even the V'ornn have masters.
The Gyrgon are mysterious technomages who rule the V'ornn and have their own agenda--they want to find the source of the Kundalans' magic. To discover the secret, they must first find the Ring of Five Dragons, which is said to open the Storehouse. It has been written that untold treasures rest in the Storehouse, perhaps including the sacred Pearl. Now only the prophesied Dar Sala-at, who was born at both ends of the cosmos, can save and restore hope to the oppressed Kundalan people.
The Ring of Five Dragons follows the path of many fantasy series, with a prophecy to drive the action and a powerful hero to save the day. However, Lustbader writes rousing action scenes and gives his characters plenty of complex issues to deal with. He nicely switches between the V'ornn intrigue and the struggle of the Dar Sala-at, offering a surprise or two along the way. The Ring of Five Dragons is a satisfying read that sets up a good foundation for the rest of the Pearl series and that includes plenty of untied threads to weave together for future adventures. --Kathie Huddleston [via]