Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Night of the Dragon - D.L. Moore

Night of the Dragon is the first book in the fantasy series I bought at Capecon this year. I'm not usually much into fantasy, but I figured why not. It tells the story of Eric who finds himself lost in a cave that happens to be the final resting place of Dragell, the last of the dragons, who fled Europe (I'm not using the, I guess dragon spellings) to find a place free of marauding humans to live. Eric doesn't know this when he puts on a ring he finds, which sort of binds his soul to that of the dragon's, providing him with a spirit-form that is a combination of the two which emerges when he sleeps.

It takes Eric some time to piece all this together, but once he realizes those dreams of his childhood bullies being murdered weren't only dreams, he has to make some decisions. Eventually he manages to gain some measure of control, and uses it to try and help people. Or kill evildoers. Lots of evildoer killing in this book. He also discovers some land out of time that can be reached by flying towards the moon, where Eric falls in love with a Native American girl Dragell met back before he died, and there are other rings, which other people are putting on.

There's a lot going on, but some of it makes so little sense at this stage it's hard for me to get into it. There are some good ideas between the different perspectives of humans and dragons, the idea of trying to control and direct a force that's part of you, but isn't. How even great changes won't automatically change a person's entire personality. But it's so all over the place it doesn't feel much like it meshes. Eric using the dragon's apparent considerable ability to recognize faces to hunt down and kill terrorists doesn't really seem to belong in the same story about him traveling to the Valley of the Lake of Laughing Eyes where he falls in love with a woman who lived centuries ago. Which might explain why he tries to get out of the former and stay in the latter.

The one major issue is the use of third-person omniscient narration produces a detachment from the story, so I never felt drawn in or invested in the characters' fates. I never felt how despairing Eric was of his life before the ring, and his concerns about his spirit-dragon's tendency to murder people are frequently mentioned, but you never see him deal with any despair. Part of that is the dragon side of the equation thinks these people all deserved to die, so what's the point of mourning them? Well yes, those childhood bullies or the recklessly driving lady in the Beamer might be assholes. But they might also be human beings who had their own shit going on that was messing them up. They may have tried to turn things around and be better people, or they may not have. But now they're dead.

Eric does try and move permanently to the Valley, and one of the reasons seems to be to distance himself from Earth, and the killing, but it doesn't really stop it, since Erigelle can still fly back to Earth each time Eric sleeps. And frankly, it's more about Eric thinking that's where he'll be happy than anything else. Which is fine, characters can behave for selfish reasons, but if that's going to be the case, don't waste time telling me how bothered they are by something when it doesn't seem that way.

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