I recently finished reading (listening, it was an audiobook) to Andy Remic’s book The Dragon Engine. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a visceral adventure that played with more than a few fantasy tropes but one thing that really stuck out to me was his use of the prologue.
Now, I couldn’t tell you how long the prologue is compared to other prologues that I’ve seen but it was 45 minutes long which was close to how long some of the other chapters were (even longer in some cases).
Initially I felt this was a bit silly, I mean, shouldn’t it be the first chapter rather than the prologue? Wasn’t it just falling prey to the trope of having a prologue in an Epic Fantasy just for the sake of it?
But then, as I got into the first chapter I realised that – despite the fact that it was a rather long prologue – it was a prologue and a really good one at that.
I picked up The Dragon Engine because it was in a 2-for-1 sale on Audible and Andy Remic is an author that I’ve been meaning to try for a while. One of the reasons I’d been meaning to try his work is thatI often see people online saying that his Iron Wolves books are brilliant dark and bloody fantasy. That’s right up my street.
At first I was a bit confused when I was going through the prologue. It was a very typical start to a fantasy adventure, old heroes in a tavern signing on to a new quest. Not really something that I had signed on for given Andy Remic’s reputation for the grisly end of fantasy. But then when we get stuck into the story it is not a shining example of fantasy genre chivalry. It was really a very jarring change from the first line of the first chapter that I was altogether surprised again.
But that’s when it clicked.
The prologue is supposed to be a separate introduction to the work and that’s exactly what you got; it was removed from the rest of the story, not only by the physical separation of chapters, but also in the tone of the story.
It might seem like a small thing but I really enjoyed that. It was a prologue done right and used as it should be, rather than as a history lesson for the fantasy world the story is set in as can so often be the case in this genre!