White Serpent, Black Dragon by Joe Jackson is an epic fantasy novel with an almost overwhelming cast of characters, human, other races, demons and gods. The acknowledgements mention that the world of the story is based on the world of Advanced Demons & Dragons. It’s not something I’m familiar with, so I tended to gloss over a lot of the detail while reading. I think someone conversant with the game would probably enjoy the story more.
Having said that, I did enjoy the read. The lead character and heroine, Kari, is a likeable demon-hunter and her emotional growth is well painted. (It is a pleasure to read an epic fantasy with a female lead) As is often the case with epic fantasy, she travels for most of the story with a nicely drawn companion called Eli.
The story itself starts out as a straight-forward quest to find and kill a murderous succubus. It quickly becomes a quest for information. It becomes apparent the presence of the succubus in this part of the world is a portent of a much larger problem.
The story is well structured, and evenly paced. Joe writes well, though in a removed sort of way so I didn’t ever feel really close to Kari. In places there’s large chunks of back-story and description that I tend to skip, but I enjoyed the dialogue, particularly as the friendship between Kari and Eli develops.
I found the fight scenes a little clumsy, but the description of setting and characters are beautifully done.
I think this story, and the series, will appeal especially to readers who enjoy epic fantasy series such as Forgotten Realms and The Riftwar Cycle. I’d give it 3.5 stars if I could.