It is a rare thing to find a self-published author who writes a novel-length (70,000+ words) manuscript that is worth reading. M.R. Mathias is one of these rare authors. If you enjoy fantasy fiction with rousing adventure, dragons, mages, and all that, you will simply love The Royal Dragoneers. The book, as of 12/30/12, sits at #51 in Epic Fantasy Fiction in the Kindle store and is gaining recognition. Independent authors are gaining recognition and skills in a market that is increasingly electronically-based and dispensing with the need for publishing houses. Savvy authors who can write a well-edited piece or have connections with a competent editor have found that they can upload their work to digital outlets, such as Amazon or Smashwords, and have control over their work. Mathias is one of these authors who seems to have actually mastered this process from conceiving the idea for the story to marketing it into successful sales. This particular book has been on the market since October 7, 2010.
Mathias has 12 works published on Amazon in either print or eBook format, or both. One of these is a functional eBook written to help indie authors navigate the throes of social networking to get their books in front of the readers who will enjoy them. The First Ten Steps was published June 15, 2011, and has a 4.5 star rating.
The Royal Dragoneers is set in a frontier civilization that has only been on the mainland of its milieu for a couple hundred years. The citizens pioneered from nearby islands and established settlements along the coast of the mainland and have gradually made their way inland. Two centuries earlier, their ancestors were shipwrecked on the islands, but found them inhospitable. While they have had more success in settling the mainland, this story picks up with the beginnings of conflict with dragons and trolls.
The story follows the development of the first dragoneer, Jenka, who encounters a dragon early in the story. He struggles with having a positive encounter while having a life-long dream of becoming one of the king’s rangers, people who have considered all dragons as vicious and evil. Jenka is invited to journey to see the king and relay his story of his dragon encounter, though the ranger who invites him does not know that Jenka was actually helped by the dragon. Their party is joined by two druids, the female of which is attractive and catches Jenka’s eye. He learnes much about dragons as well as magic and begins opening his mind to a new future.
Mathias takes his time telling the story instead of making mistakes that many independent authors make in truncating descriptions and interactions. His story development shows maturity and patience while also engaging the reader every step of the way. While I will usually give a story a few chapters before deciding whether it has my interest, Mathias grabbed and kept my attention from the begining of the first chapter. I have enjoyed this story every step of the way since. I first read J.R.R. Tolkien’s books as a teenager and have read many books about dragons, trolls, wizards, monsters, and good old adventure. I love these kinds of stories and The Royal Dragoneers is at the top of my list of favorites.
I highly recommend this read and tell you that it is very well worth every moment invested in reading it. At the time of publishing this review, the book is still only $.99 on Amazon, an incredibly low price for such a full work. You can find the book here.