This is an interesting one for 2009.
Here's the blurb:
The Adamantine Palace lies at the centre of an empire that grew out of ashes. Once dragons ruled the world and man was little more than prey. Then a way of subduing the dragons alchemicaly was discovered and now the dragons are bred to be little more than mounts for knights and highly valued tokens in the diplomatic power-players that underpin the rule of the competing aristocratic houses.
The Empire has grown fat. And now one man wants it for himself. A man prepared to poison the king just as he has poisoned his own father. A man prepared to murder his lover and bed her daughter. A man fit to be king? But unknown to him there are flames on the way. A single dragon has gone missing. And even one dragon on the loose, unsubdued, returned to its full intelligence, its full fury, could spell disaster for the Empire.
But because of the actions of one unscrupulous mercenary the rivals for the throne could soon be facing hundreds of dragons . . . Stephen Deas has written a fast moving and action-fuelled fantasy laced with irony, a razor sharp way with characters, dialogue to die for and dragons to die by.
With the success of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, it's hardly surprising that we're seeing more dragon-orientated fantasy. Dragons are a bit of a tricky element to use in a fantasy novel; get it right and the result can be impressive, (à la Novik) get it wrong and the whole story can fall flat on its face (à la Maxey). Actually, the dragons in James Maxey's novels were pretty cool, it was the wooden dialogue and irritating characterisation that caused me to put down his book.
Anyway, The Adamantine Palace is - as far as I understand - Stephen Deas' first novel, so I'm interested to see how it pans out. Certainly sounds interesting.
You can find a 'trailer' for the novel at Deas' website.
The Adamantine Palace is due for publication by Gollancz on 19 March 2009.