Dragons across the Twin Kingdoms have been persecuted for centuries, and while they are no longer hunted for their jewels they are still governed by strict laws. However, Morgwym the Green defies the law to have a kitling- Benfro. But before he can hatch Morgwm must save the unborn child of Princess Lleyn and hide him from those that poisoned the Princess. While she is making the decision to take Errol to a nearby human village, Benfro hatches, right at the height of the Confluence. Evidently these two infants have destinies shrouded in power, but with their fates intertwined with the whole of Gwlad itself, they must overcome a great number of challenges before they can find out what those destinies are.
The Ballad of Sir Benfro by J.D. Oswald has dragons, magic, Welsh influences and unlikely heroes. It’s almost as if Oswald was writing this book specifically to cater to my interests. The five-book series reads as one story (much like LoTR) which is one of the reasons it has taken me a while to get around to reviewing it. Another is that I am still not over the ending- don’t worry this review is spoiler free.
Oswald (who did not influence my PnP character at all…) writes dragons
in a way that I have never read before. Benfro and his fellow villagers are fairly andromorphic while still retaining their dragon-ness. It is a really great portrayal of how dragons could be. However, the way that the world works and the story unfolds allows us to see dragons in their many-faceted roles.
The magic in the world of Gwlad is not overly complicated, but it is developed in a way that does not allow Benfro or Errol to take things easy. It has as many weaknesses as it does strengths giving it a rich and dynamic feel. I also love how the grym shrouds the world, drawing power from nature just as nature draws power from it. It makes the whole thing feel rather warm and pleasant, like a summers day.
The pacing of the story is good, and while some parts are slower, it only adds to the build-up as the story climaxes. Like I said above, the five books read as one story and while the end of each book does have a finish, it is more akin to a chapter end. Then at the start of the next book starts off where the previous left off, reducing the pace a little to allow for more build-up.
I can’t think of any criticisms for this series. I am sure that it isn’t perfect but I loved it so much I don’t really care to look for any imperfections.
Oswald also has a crime series written under the name James Oswald. Though I have not read them, as crime isn’t really my cup of tea, I have been whole-heartedly recommending them to people who do enjoy the genre. I can only imagine they are just as good as his fantasy works.