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And now we're caught up again.

Byron Preiss and Michael Reaves; illustrated by Joseph Zucker

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Music choice: AC/DC, Dragonforce

One thing to keep in mind is that this book was 545 pages long. Not a bad thing for a fantasy novel, but the plot as it was could have been summed up in about two hundred. The thing that struck me especially hard was that the writers seemed to be doing exactly what I do mentally with my novel—"What can I do here? I need to get ten more pages written! OH! I know! I'll add this in and write with that for a while—ohwaitoriginalplot." While that's an excellent method for getting a higher pagecount, it doesn't make for good stories. The writing is stilted, but at least it's consistently stilted.

There are various deaths, and from the beginning (particularly if the summary on the back has been read), it's fairly obvious that the other unfriendly nation is the one, it's dragons to blame. (Another irksome thing for me personally, since I enjoy dragons quite a bit and don't like them being portrayed as evil/semi-evil beings.) Because the enemy nation is absolutely-without-a-doubt behind it, though, the dwarflike farmers decide to sail across the sea and get themselves involved in something resembling guerrilla warfare with the taller, more adept warriors of the enemy nation, who are perfectly willing to engage with the dwarflike ones because the warriors believe that they caused the deaths. An inventor figures this out and suspects dragons and goes to inform both nations and is essentially exiled from the farmlike one [not in that order].

I'd go on, but it requires even more run-on sentences and I'm a little too tired to formulate all of them so that they're coherent.

Suffice to say that conciseness would have been their friend. The basic plot with the twists is perfectly fine; the political intrigue and various alliances are interesting but unnecessary, as are the dragons actually divided into two factions because the dragon-dragons are dying out. All of this could have possibly fit if the book were much, much longer—i.e., divided into a trilogy or a duology or somesuch. Realistically, it's somewhat similar to the Dragon Prince books by Melanie Rawn, but the writing style isn't quite as pleasant and the plot just doesn't work to be strung together all in one book.

The illustrations are unique, but another thing that I couldn't stand about the book. I would be reading and somewhat intrigued, then BAM! Two-page illustration that completely disrupts the flow. Not only that, but I'm one of those people who likes to envision the characters their own way, and with illustrations... My version of the characters looked a whole lot better, and much less like a bored teenager drew them.

Next up: Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Antrax and Morgawr by Terry Brooks