“Hurog means dragon.” This opening line sets the precedence for what turned out to be an almost surprisingly fantastic fantasy book. The premise is that Ward, a young 20-something man, has become the new lord of Castle Hurog. Ward’s late father was a paranoid man worried about losing his throne so Ward has feigned stupidity for years to stay alive. With the throne now in his hands and everyone in the five kingdoms thinking he is an idiot, he now has to prove himself to keep his lands. And there is more to his throne than just land, something magical, but I will not spoil anything here.
The setting for this story is a typical fantasy land. You have the land that Castle Hurog is in, Shavig, as one of five kingdoms. Each kingdom is ruled by a lord and all five of them answer to the high king. As is often the case in these stories, the kingdoms are not doing so great. They are past their golden age and the magical wonders that once made the lands a fantastical place to live are now little more than myths and legends.
Character development was very strong for a little book like this. Ward, as the main character, grows the most as he begins proving himself as a lord. He even acknowledges this himself in the story, remarking on how what he expected and what actually happens are two very different things. Other main characters mostly include the residents of the castle: Ward’s sister, his aunt (the captain of the guard), the king’s vassal, etc. Some of these characters are your typical standard fantasy story badasses while others are the “how’d I get dragged into this” types. Even the minor characters are developed as the story goes on, with each character getting development roughly equal to their importance in the story.
Despite Dragon Bones being the first of a duology, it reads like a standalone story. You do not have to read book #2 (though I recommend you do) to get the full story. The story does get a little dark at times, but in real medieval times that is how things were and fantasy stories like these are all the better for it. For a tiny little paperback that seemed like it would be more time filler than anything else, the book was very good from the lore to the characters to the writing. Dragon Bones is definitely worth the time for any fantasy fan, especially if you like dragons.