Welcome to the weekly Wednesday reread of The Star Scroll! We’ve reached the end at last. We wrap up the events of the book, then look ahead to what’s coming next in Sunrunner’s Fire.
So This Happens: Two weddings happen quickly as this chapter opens: Ostvel and Alasen, and Maarken and Hollis. Meath stands in for Andry in the blessing, to spare him the pain and because he is already long gone. His twin Sorin has gone with him.
Rohan grieves for him, but knows the marriage is right.
At the feast that night, Sioned wears the extremely sexy dress Pol gave her. Ostvel sings—for the first time since Camigwen died.
The party travels on, breaking up slowly as various members head off home. Meath begins to teach Pol to use his powers. Hollis is gradually weaned off dranath.
They reach the foothills of the Veresch. It’s terribly hot; Pol conjures rain to cool them.
That night Rohan asks Sioned if Pol should have been able to do this. After some time, Sioned comments that his Old Blood must be making it possible. They discuss Pol and Riyan’s problem with water, and Camigwen’s as well—that must come from their Sunrunner blood. Versus Pandsala, who didn’t have any.
They discuss how Pandsala’s gifts and colors were different. This segues into the prospect of Pol discovering where his sorcerous powers come from. They debate whether it’s time to tell him.
Sioned begs for more time. Rohan is bitter about rape and being a barbarian, with reference to killing Masul. They agree that no one has figured out Pol’s parentage yet, and they really don’t want him ever to find out.
The party is enjoying some falconry, and Sioned’s hawk has brought in a good kill. There is teasing. Alasen has learned to tease.
Alasen’s hawk is released, and Sioned flies with her on sunlight as she takes off for freedom. They all gallop off after the hawk, and find a wonderful, perfect, fertile valley.
This is where Rohan plans to build a palace. They’ll get the stone from Rezeld Manor.
Then Rohan explains for those who are puzzled by this sudden development. He wants to build a palace between Stronghold and Castle Crag, and he wants to hold the Rialla there, not in Waes. And, the Sunrunners won’t have to cross a river to get there.
In all the distraction, Sioned has lost Alasen’s hawk. She insists on going to find the bird.
There is teasing, and much planning. Pol wants to breed golden horses. There is more teasing. There is teasing and teasing.
Suddenly they realize why the valley is deserted. It’s inhabited by dragons.
Equally suddenly, a dragon greets Sioned. It’s the female she bonded with earlier in the book, whom she calls Elisel. The dragon greets her and shows off for her. Sioned, says Rohan, has her own dragon.
Sioned starts communicating with the dragon, introducing her to Rohan and Pol. She realizes dragons communicate with emotions and pictures.
It’s too much too fast. Sioned begs Elisel to slow down. They share colors. Rohan asks Sioned to ask if the dragons are all right with the humans being there.
Sioned takes it further. She asks if they can build a keep here. Elisel agrees, if they will pay in sheep, and wants Sioned to go with her when they leave, but Sioned can’t do that. Then the dragon sire calls her and the rest to fly on.
Suddenly Alasen’s hawk appears, frightened of the dragons. Alasen coaxes her down, and Rohan names the valley and the future palace: Dragon’s Rest.
And I’m Thinking: It’s a wrap! Bunch of summaries. Key characters get married off, and then we zip along in time to our ending.
I notice the sexy dress gets glossed over really quickly—good, because it’s kind of creepy that an adolescent son gives his mother such an overtly sexual gift.
The ending is nice, bright, and sunny, shadowed somewhat by the absent Andry’s pain and Hollis’ struggle to overcome drug addiction. Finally! We get dragon payoff! Sioned can talk to dragons! Yay!
I admit I was expecting a dark twist, considering they were in the Veresch and there’s where sorcerers live. Nobody even hints at that. It’s all happy happy and perfect valley and new palace plans.
Not to mention how they get there, at a mad gallop with no worries at all about spies, assassins, or sorcerers. I’m glad to have such nice closure, but kind of wishing there could have been more of a sting in the tail.
I’m also, personally, sorry Alasen has given in to the teasing thing. I was hoping her reaction meant some backing off from the horror, but nope. It’s worse than ever.
It’s interesting to see the growth in craft as the book goes on. The writing is tighter, the pacing is faster, and while there are still bogs of exposition, they’re much reduced.
There’s certainly an art to keeping up with a cast of thousands, and this book succeeds amazingly. Everybody gets at least some time in the spotlight, and all the marriages and alliances and enmities and conflicts get sorted out coherently enough that while the character index at the end is welcome, it’s not impossible to keep up with who’s who.
There is a whole lot of politics and political debate and over-and-overing about princes and power and being Sunrunners and all, that might get in the way of the scrolls of the title and the dragons of the series title—I’d like to have seen more of the sorcerers, and of course more dragons. But there’s a whole new book coming, and a second trilogy. Still plenty of room for the really cool parts.
Meanwhile, looking back and reflecting on the big picture so far, I feel almost as if this book could be the final volume of its own trilogy. If the missing book in the middle of Dragon Prince had actually been written—the story of the Plague and the negotiations with Roelstra and the use of dranath to treat the disease in humans and dragons—then Star Scroll would have been the culmination of the Roelstra saga, and we’d get to see Camigwen’s family finally come through their grief and be happy.
In many ways the book is Dragon Prince done over, with a section of setup and exposition (lots and lots and Lots of Kids Learning Stuff and Older Generation Lecturing Kids) and then an explosive Rialla with a sizable casualty list. We get Rohan II: The Kinder, Gentler (and Even Cuter) Version, combined with Andrade II (even to the similar name): The Revenge.
In among all that, there’s a tease of dragons and act one of the sorcerers’ plot. Those will clearly move on into the next episode of the saga.
And that’s next week. Strap up your dragons, we’ll be ready to ride.
Judith Tarr’s first novel, The Isle of Glass, appeared in 1985. Her new space opera, Forgotten Suns, will be published by Book View Cafe in April. In between, she’s written historicals and historical fantasies and epic fantasies, some of which have been reborn as ebooks from Book View Café. She has won the Crawford Award, and been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and the Locus Award. She lives in Arizona with an assortment of cats, two dogs, and a herd of Lipizzan horses.