Chris Bunch pens a readable action-adventure fantasy in The Last Battle. Review by Violet Kane

Book Cover

Re-released today in paperback from Roc, The Last Battle is the third book of Chris Bunch's Dragonmaster trilogy. It is a fast-paced adventure, but otherwise unremarkable.

Hal Kailas is a battle-hardened dragonmaster who finds his position increasingly irrelevant now that the wars of his warrior career have ended. He is dealt a further blow when he discovers that his wife is having an affair with another man. Kailas finds himself without a home or much of a career, and so seeks camaraderie with other dragonriders. Kailas's ennui does not last for long, however, for a new menace is rising, and it will take a mustering of all the dragonmasters' strength to meet the demon hordes in battle.

Even though this book is the third in a trilogy, it works relatively well as a stand-alone, and Bunch deserves a great deal of credit for that. This novel starts out with promise. The conflict of Kailas's feelings of irrelevancy in the wake of the ending of his marriage sets up this story to have a character-driven arc. While the initial character-conflict is resolved in the end, and the ensuing action feeds into that conflict, this novel could only be considered character-driven in the strictest sense. Once the conflict of the demon threat arises, the emphasis of this novel shifts to the action and adventure aspects of fighting this battle with the demons. Bunch's writing style is economical and accessible, and the battle scenes are vividly constructed. However, this novel ultimately shows itself to have a very typical story arc, complete with the ups and downs of battle and a new love interest for Kailas. These characters are unfortunately not challenging or surprising.

Fans of action-adventure stories, good vs. evil battles, and event-driven fantasy page turners will find this book to their liking. It is not, however, to my taste.

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Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.