Having enjoyed the short REX DRACONIS novel, UNDER A DRAGON MOON, I was glad to read REX DRACONIS: LORDS OF THE DRAGON MOON. It picks up not long after the original novel and continues to develop what is building up to be a fascinating new world going through a cosmic cataclysm. I commented in my first review that this felt very much like his own personalized, editor free, version of Dragonlance and stand by that statement even as the world continues to grow into a uniquely Knaakian setting.
The premise is an asteroid field called the Dragon Moon, believed to be the remains of a dead god, have re-appeared over the planet in an ominous portent of things to come. A druid, a minotaur crew, an elven mystic, and a half-elvish knight are our primary points of view as they try to figure out what the arrival of the "Shatter" means as well as its effects. We also get the monstrous wheyr as creatures that stalk the heroes day and night.
Richard Knaak proves high fantasy isn't dead as a genre and can continue to entrance in an era of grimdark seriousness. It's an optimistic book where there's good guys, bad guys, and neither side necessarily gets along with their own team. Indeed, one element I loved is the handling of minotaurs who are a deeply honor-bound and rigid race but don't neatly fit into either category.
The book contains numerous excellent action sequences, starting with a druid having a lengthy shapeshifting battle against awesome creatures unironically named Lich Wolves. However, it's the quiet moments I really enjoyed. Scenes like where a minotaur second-in-command tries to reasure his captain he doesn't want to kill him in a Klingon-style duel for promotion. He cites the fact the captain is like a brother to him, only for the captain to reflect duels to the death between brothers were not uncommon.
I also like the fact the politics of the world are neither incredibly convoluted or absent. Much of the story is influenced by the fact it takes place in the neutral port city or Aryon. It is along the border between the Minotaur empire and the human lands to the south. It has neither the strength nor will to defend itself against its more aggressive neighbors but maintains its freedom due to the fact it's, for now, more valuable as a trading depot than an addition to their neighbors' domains. It's the kind of little details like that which add up to build a living three-dimensional fantasy world.
As for flaws? There's only a few and that's the fact the story could have used a bit more exposition in catching up people on events from Under a Dragon Moon. Just a paragraph or so of, "Kaldara was a seer who had left the elven people to follow her vision despite the fact no one believed in her visions." Catching up readers is something that I think benefits but I may be biased because it took a moment to remind myself who everyone was. This isn't a complicated world for veterans of fantasy but newcomers may be confused as to what a kwillum is.
In conclusion, if you have a hankering for old school TSR/WOTC style fantasy then this is a delightful genre throwback. When wizards threw fireballs and were squishy to swords while dungeons were full of treasure, the REX DRACONIS series will satisfy that craving. I'm looking forward to when the series is done so I can read it back-to-back-to-back.