Wednesday, August 22, 2018

[Book] Drawing The Dragon by April Adams

Book cover
Imagine the universe of Battlestar Galactica but add elves, trolls and dragons, remove the religious overtones entirely.  The dragons are spaceships, a bit like the galactic whale from Jim Henson's Farscape.  Instead of Battlestar's Cylons, we have Constructs, which are a bit closer to the Nexus of Bladerunner fame.

Scarlett, Jade and Blue are elite pilots of young dragons on the cruiser known as the Opal Dragon.  Calyph is the engineer of the Opal.

There's a lot of back and forth between the present and flashbacks.  Always done at page gaps or chapter breaks, but it sometimes takes a page to figure out the timeline context.  In the case of "Grandpa" it is present time, but it took me over half the book to figure that out.

The book stops telling a story, but I would call the ending an anti-climax.  There were many sub-plots that were not properly wrapped up, and there was ongoing action that hadn't yet resolved.  I'd go so far as to say the book ended with a soap-opera style cliffhanger, which is super out-of-place in a book that was otherwise well layered with action.

The last page, called Author's Note, basically just asks the readers to forgive the abrupt ending, claims that the next book will not wrap up any of the plot, but teases the next book anyway.  That next book is called Moons of Jupiter, I own a copy, but given the Author's Note warning, I doubt I'm going to read it.

The type of this book is almost twice as dense as any other book I've read published this century.  The margins are smaller, the lines are packed tighter and the font point is smaller.  There are no blanks in its 346 pages.  This is the sort of book that a professional editor would have forced some major fixes on, and the book would have been SO much better for it.  In the beginning of this book, I was confused by the introduction of words without context or definition.  Here are several examples...

Dragon & Ship (used interchangeably) leaves the impression that maybe they just call spaceships dragons, and that smaller ships that launch from the large ship are just called Fledgling simply because they are like the aircraft of a carrier.  I went four pages not sure if the narration was talking about a seafaring vessel or a space craft.  It took near a quarter of the book before it became clear that these spaceships are actual living beings, but have been fitted with interface equipment.

Fieldpack, in this book, is a device that creates an atmospheric field around the user.  I went through a quarter of the book thinking it was a military pack with mission necessary equipment, but that is what this book calls a flight bag.

Jordan, in this book, is a designation for a dragon pilot, but not the pilot of the big dragon, that person is a captain.  Dimlight, on the other hand, was introduced and explained through some really awkward dialog on page 9.  Then on page 10, it was explained again with more detail (the lights dim at regular intervals to help with people's circadian rhythms - thus it is a Sci-Fi stand-in for "day").

Engineer, as if it should be obvious, is an elf that has kinetic abilities with metals.  Basically the superpower of Marvel comics' Magneto without the evil intent or any of the action.  I'm not sure why we were introduced to this character having to study star maps.  Maybe he was originally going to be a navigator?  I don't know, but I again appreciate the job a good editor does.

Finally, I read the whole book, and I'm still not sure if a Troll is a living being or just a helper-droid with advanced AI.

The frustrating thing is that the writing style itself is quite engaging.  I never felt lost in the narrative, just lost on words and terms.  Bottom line, I cannot recommend this book unless you really, really think that everything I described above sounds like the kind of ride you want.  

I purchased this book from the Author at Dragon Con in Atlanta back in 2015.

Science Fiction
Released: 1 February 2011
Paperback, 346 pages.

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