It is obvious that G. Derek Adams, author of Asteroid Made of Dragons, understands the trappings and tropes of fantasy backwards and forwards. It is also obvious that he has tremendous love for the genre because (and in spite) of its cheesier clichés and frequent absurdities.
I’m not getting down on fantasy here. Long time readers of the Warbler know that I, too, love fantasy well, even if my interest waned of late.
Adams’s book was the perfect supplement to A Crucible of Souls—a book that took itself very seriously—in reinvigorating my love of fantasy. Asteroid Made of Dragons is a self-aware, funny, and action-packed novel that is basically a Dungeons and Dragons adventure in delicious prose. It is absurd and delightful, with a great cast of characters, fun set pieces, and suffused with a larger-than-fantasy-life essence that punctuates every page of the book.
It also happens to be the third book in an ongoing series, the first two of which were self-published by Adams. And while I’ve gone into the pitfalls of starting mid-series in the past, none of those risks factor into the Asteroid Made of Dragons experience. Adams deftly drops us into a world with a very “watch this now, ask questions later” kind of rhythm. And while the book moves along at nearly breakneck pace, you’re never lost.
There are many moments in the novel wherein a character is on the verge of lapsing into a clichéd speech; some kind of obvious expositional monologue. Or an unnecessary act of heroism which would be patently foolish, when Adams applies his wit with surgical precision, managing to insert a highly self-aware quip without knocking the reader out of the story. Your mind, while reading Asteroid Made of Dragons, is in a superposition between “this is ridiculous and hilarious” and “this is awesome!”
Yet there are times when Adams forgets to quip about fantasy mid-sentence, and the humor dissipates, leaving behind some excellent writing. It’s in these moments in particular that we can see how much he loves fantasy. Spectacular prose, world details, and lovingly crafted characters remain behind, and these moments are very different—though equally pleasurable—to read.
Asteroid Made of Dragons was a fantastic read, and is well set up for a sequel. In an interview he did on the Write Brain podcast, he mentioned that he is writing Episodic Fantasy as opposed to Epic Fantasy. His goal is to be inviting to all readers, taking them on short, ridiculous romps through his magical world, requiring little of them but their time and willingness to laugh. I, for one, am more than willing.