Dragma’s Keep: My Review of Vance Pumphrey’s Novel

Reader’s of my blog post, “Don’t Attack the Sundae,” will understand what I mean when I say THIS BOOK is NOT a hot fudge sundae and has armor to spare. Without further introduction, my review of the first Book of Vance Pumphrey’s Valdaar’s Fist Quartet.

Dragma’s Keep is a well crafted journey into the classic Dungeons and Dragons world.  The dialogue is seamless, creating an exciting vision in the reader’s mind of the characters distinct and intriguing personalities.  

The story is unique and grabs the reader, capturing them with delightful surprise.  Too often, so many novels are predictable.  This is not one of those books.  I started the first few pages feeling like I was reading the beginning of a ‘D&D’ campaign module with my expectation of a story I’d seen before a thousand times.  I am glad, and woman enough to admit, I was wrong.  The characters and plot are dynamic and much more than standard fantasy fare.  

The age old preconceptions of good and evil are broken down, as I found myself cheering on the long absent villainous God.  

Traditional ‘D&D’ classes come together for a journey into a long abandoned and hidden Keep.   Orcs, magic, minotaurs, and the characters own bickering and distrust stand in the way of a forgotten treasure trove of magical artifacts and the beginning of a quest which takes them all by surprise.  It’s the moment near the end, when all the characters reveal their true motives coming together, which leaves the reader on the hook for the next novel. 

Dragma’s Keep is adventure fun for the whole family.  I’ve read high fantasy books for over twenty-six years, almost always there are elements I would label too mature for my eleven-year old son.  Yet, this book is balanced perfectly for readers ten to ninety, which is refreshing.  I love a good mature book, but I think it’s wonderful to be able to introduce the next generation to high fantasy.  

My only complaint is the history/prologue chapter was a little dry. I would have preferred to have the information ‘shown’ to me rather than ‘told’ to me.  The author’s dialogue and internal monologue skills are so sharp, I think that section of the book would’ve been better served by such devises.  Still, all in all, a great read I don’t regret.

[Please note, in exchange for a free copy of the novel, I agreed to provide a HONEST review.]  




  1. Thank you so much! That was a very well written and carefully crafted review! And, I want to add that you touched on many of the points I was going for with this the first book in my Valdaar’s Fist saga. Any age… Blurred lines between good and evil… characters that are memorable, but tend to get in their own way… Nicely said!!!

    It’s been my contention all along that if I could just get more people to read my book(s), more still would read!!!

    Thank you again for taking the time to both read my book and then pen this wonderful review.


    Liked by 1 person

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