“Be patient with magic….The voice of silence will speak in its own time.”

The Stone Dragon

The Stone Dragon

I am always delighted when a book turns out to be an artichoke, with leaf upon tasty leaf encasing a succulent heart. Tom Kepler’s novel, The Stone Dragon, is such a book.

A coming-of-age fantasy full of sorcery and swords (with the accent, pleasantly, on the former), this is the story of Glimmer, a young apprentice mage growing into his own as a master of dream magic – if mastery any can claim over so fluid and dangerous a sphere. He is surrounded by friends and enemies, teachers and followers, each limned with distinction and purpose. And then there are dragons – magnificent, elemental, wise, and witty beings at the core of young Glimmer’s journey. But, as savory as this all is, it’s but one (outer) layer of many.

Tom Kepler uses Glimmer’s story to examine the nature of magic, of power, of consciousness, of the grand adventure of becoming. This tale is more metaphysical than physical – choosing the path of inner self-discovery, of meditative reflection. With lyric elegance, he explores the subtle interconnectedness of all things; the magic within us all just waiting to be awakened. As Western as The Stone Dragon’s external trappings are, the philosophical voice is decidedly Eastern. Indeed, though the book’s dragons are European in aspect – winged, scaled, and fire-breathing – they are deeply familiar with the ways (and the Way) of the East (Lao Tzu would feel right at home in the company of the dragons and mages of The Stone Dragon).

All this said, do not think for a moment that The Stone Dragon is short on action. Quests, both personal and altruistic, inform the tale as Glimmer and his companions go from one end of their land to another, sometimes with alarming celerity. And in the process, like Cabbage-pants, the gnome, they work the fertile soil for more tales to come (which I, for one, will read with pleasure).

Joseph Campbell said of our lives, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty ‘Yes!’ to your adventure.” The Stone Dragon not only says “Yes!” but insists that the reader say “Yes!” too. It is a rare journey well worth the joining.