This originally appeared as part of the Author Appreciation series on the r/fantasy forum. You can check out more of the Author Appreciation series here.
A Very Short Biography
Irene Radford was born Phyllis Irene Radford in 1950. Among other things, she is a passionate and native Oregonian, a historian, a lace-maker, a writer of SFF novels and short stories, an editor, a writing teacher, and a member of the author founded publishing cooperative Book View Café.Over the years she has written under several different pseudonyms including Irene Radford, P.R. Frost, C.F. Bentley, and Phyllis Ames.
Under her various pen names she has written within a number of genres and subgenres of SFF, including traditional fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, dystopia, and space opera. As Phyllis Irene Radford she has also edited a number of short fiction anthologies as well as written some non-fiction books on the craft of writing and a history about the Magna Carta.
Radford’s Fantasy Works
She is perhaps best known (at least by me) for her fantasy novels written as Irene Radford in the Dragon Nimbus universe which consist of four series. These books came into my life at a time when I was rediscovering fantasy and although they consist of a lot of standard fantasy elements (Magic! Dragons! Evil wizards!), there was just something about them that really grabbed my attention and helped to fuel my love for the genre. One of my favorite things about these books is the characters. They can be strong and independent, and yet also vulnerable and they do best when they work together to accomplish things. These books are fun, character driven adventures.
- The Dragon Nimbus – The Glass Dragon, The Perfect Princess, The Loneliest Magician, and The Wizard’s Treasure
This introduces us to the land of Coronnan, a land where magic and the health of the king is tied to the presence of dragons. For years the number of dragons has been dwindling and so has the magic as well as the king’s well-being. With the weakening of the Dragon Nimbus and the magic that protects the kingdom, rogue magicians, who draw their power from another source, have begun to cause problems. To further complicate matters, war with neighboring countries is looming on the horizon. Can our heroes save the kingdom from destruction?
- The Dragon Nimbus Histories – The Dragon’s Touchstone, The Last Battlemage, The Renegade Dragon
Taking place around 300 years before the first series, a bit of the history of Coronnan is explored here, specifically how the Dragon Nimbus and the pact between the Dragons and the kings of Coronnan came into being. Magic is uncontrolled and not regulated, magicians are running rampant throughout the lands and Coronnan is being torn apart by seemingly endless war until the Dragons intercede.
- The Stargods – The Hidden Dragon, The Dragon Circle, and Dragon’s Revenge
Who were the Stargods? This series explores the ancient history of this world and how the colonists began their relationships with the Dragons of the lands. This story is a blend of science fiction and fantasy where both technology such as space travel and magical powers co-exist.
- The Children of the Dragon Nimbus – The Silent Dragon, The Broken Dragon, The Wandering Dragon
As expected by the title, this series deals with the next the adventures of the children of our characters from The Dragon Nimbus series. More of the world is explored here, and of course the main goal is to keep the kingdom of Coronnan safe!
The other major series she has written as Irene Radford is Merlin’s Descendants, which is a five book series that blend fantasy and history as it follows the descendants of Merlin from the time of Arthur to the 18th century, navigating and shaping events in history.
Overall, Irene Radford writes some really fun adventure books. I do think her books tend to have more in common with Sword and Sorcery perhaps than epic fantasy, but there is still quite a bit of world-building over the course of all the series I’ve read. There’s also a dash of romance, for those that are fans of such things. Of course, there’s even more works to explore than those I’ve mentioned above under her other pen names and even a short paranormal romance series written as Irene Radford (The Pixie Chronicles). If these sound like books that appeal to you be sure to check them out!