Book Review: Dawn Of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw

Dawn Of Wonder

Jonathan Renshaw

Published 2014

Read in Kindle E-book format

I’m picky about books.  Extremely picky.   Sometimes I remind myself of a heroin addict, chasing the dragon and reminiscing about that last perfect high.

Dawn Of Wonder is the first book where I catch the dragon since Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song about, what’s it been?  Three or four years I think.

This is a fantasy book, and how I describe it will influence your decision to read it.   If I say it is about a young boy going to a magic school you will assume one thing.   If I tell you it’s about a young boy training to be an elite fighter, you’ll assume another.  If I tell you it’s about a street urchin fighting a crime boss for his very life…

I can’t describe the plot of the book because it is very much its own story.  It’s the kind of story where you say “I think I’ll give this a try for three paragraphs and then move on if it doesn’t work out” only to find yourself unable to put it down even for your doctor’s appointment.

I flat out love this book.  I love the way it made  me have hope.   I want to share that love and that hope with anyone and everyone who loves to read.   Please spend the paltry $4 this book costs on Amazon or add it to your Kindle Unlimited queue.   It’s worth at least a look.  If it’s not for you, set it aside.  (That’s what I told myself.  Two days later I came up for air and have hardly stopped raving the book’s praises since.)

Definitely 5 worms.

Book Review: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Title: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

Author: Becky Chambers

Format: Kindle E-book

Published: 2015

Sci-Fi books often frustrate me.

I am intrigued by ideas and the chance to escape into this wholly new time and place that the author teases in the blurb.   More often than not I get a little bit here and there about the story’s setting and then…snooze.  Another war.  Another cat and mouse game across the stars.  Another devious plot.  A little zero gravity sex.  It’s Tom Clancy in outer space.

That’s why this book was so exciting to me and why I can’t stop telling people that they really need to read it if they like thinking about interesting things.

Becky Chambers has invented a far future galaxy with multiple species living and working together.   She has then created a microcosm of that galaxy in the form of a wormhole-drilling spaceship and its varied crew.    The story in this book is the story of that ship and her crew and the year-long life changing voyage they take to fill a government contract on the far edge of the known space.

It’s a pleasant trip where we get to know the ship’s crew in all their varied forms while we experience spacer life alongside them.    There are stops here and there to pick up necessary parts or attend necessary functions and we get to experience life planetside and life in spaceports along the way.   It’s a fun journey with a satisfying conclusion.

There ARE shots fired and there are beasties to overcome but the action never swallows the story.

This is a 4-worm novel that is definitely worth a purchase.   4 bookworms

Why Review Books?

I originally wrote reviews for this page which appeared on Sundays.   I stopped for awhile for a number of reasons, but then Mandi asked me to come back and I thought about it.  Why do I review books?  What is that about?

Different reviewers will give you different reasons.  Some people review books because they just plain like talking about books.   Others want to get their names out there and into the publishing world by any means necessary.   There are those who want free books, and in the past having book review site was the way to do that.   Then there are those who want to bring books they love to a wider audience.

Why do I review books?   Not for free books…I think in the time I’ve done this I’ve gotten a grand total of 10 free books, all from indie authors.  There has never been a “hey, here’s the hottest novel of the summer three months early” moment.  Nor do I want there to be.    I don’t need for publishing to notice me via reviews.  My reviews have very little in common with the work I hope to publish.  It would be like getting someone to come to my restaurant by offering them a cold drink.

I do love talking about books.   I love telling people about books.   I love discussing books.

But most of all…I was a travel agent many moons ago and I’ve never gotten over the pleasure of giving someone a way to escape from the grit of their life.   I remember booking tickets–I booked thousands of tickets–and there was more often than not a joy there when people were planning to fly.    Going home to see mom, going to visit the baseball hall of fame, going home for Thanksgiving…no matter what it was it was a chance to get away.  And it was always several hundred dollars.

Books are cheap.  For a dollar or three you can take a few hours to a whole new place, an old familiar place, a scary place or a happy place.  You can meet interesting new people or hang out with old friends.

Even though books are cheap, I know from experience that there’s nothing worse than a bad trip.  And our free time is precious.  So even if the five dollars won’t crater your budget, I know  you don’t want to lose an afternoon hanging out in a bad neighbourhood.  And that’s why I review books.   I’m still a travel agent.  I’m just trying to book your ticket to the right place.   So when you see a review from me it’s going to be _about your trip_.   It’s not going to be about me getting my name in front of literary agents and it’s not going  to be about me getting free books.   It’s about what I’m doing for you.

That’s what I’m doing here, and that’s what I hope to be able to do here for a good long time.

Stay tuned for a review of the Best Sci Fi Book I’ve read this year and a little essay about the most disappointing Sci Fi book I’ve ever read in my life.   Those are coming up later today.

Slainté

 

Reviewing Kindle Unlimited

kucropI’ve been away from blogging reviews for quite some time now, and I was arguing with myself for quite awhile about which book I should review.   Do folks care what I thought of Ann Rule’s Green River, Running Red ?  Maybe, but I’m sick of thinking about it, and have no desire to write 500 more words about Ann Rule’s insertion of herself into something that only involved her because it happened in her town.  Are folks really going to be interested in my opinions on a 5 year old thriller about Jack The Ripper?  Probably not.  Then I thought about all the Zentangle books I’d “read” and I was reminded of Kindle Unlimited.  I want to talk about that.   I want to talk about it because it’s not a book review.  It’s a review of literally thousands of books and how they are consumed and produced.

Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s version of “Netflix for books”.  There are other services available for smartphones and tablets; this is the only version available for the Kindle.   For about $10 a month you can read all you want from among the “Unlimited” selection.   (The fact that not every book on the site is included in the program might give you an idea of just how “Unlimited” it truly is[n’t].)    For someone like me, who reads about 4 books a week, this is a stellar deal.  It’s also a good deal for those of us with a Tsundoku problem.   In the 4 months I’ve participated in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited I’ve saved anywhere from $80 to $155 a month.  Instead of buying books to “read someday”–for that is the very definition of Tsundoko–I can add books to my “Kindle Unlimited To Read” wishlist.  This is especially helpful because most of the Amazon Daily Deals have been KU titles since the program started, and that was my biggest book expense.  “Hey, this is only $2.  I better get it before the price goes up!” has become “hey, I can read this when I’m in the mood, no matter what the list price is.”     For me that’s been the biggest value I’ve seen.

 

But there is a fly in this ointment and that’s what I really need to talk about.  You’ll see lots of people reviewing the economics of the program but I’m starting to wonder if anyone is calling Amazon out on the sheer abuse of the system that some “authors” are doing.

Anyone can self-publish to Amazon, and anyone who self-publishes can elect to include their book in KU.   Amazon’s royalty payout and ways of measuring who gets what are murky, but it’s become known that if people download and read your book to 10% you can make about $1.50.    So here’s what some nasty people are doing.   They’re uploading what are essentially no different in depth and breadth than Wikipedia articles on popular subjects–the ones I stumbled upon accidentally where about the art discipline Zentangle and the TV shows “Bletchley Circle” and “Downton Abbey”.    Since these things are short, you pretty much automatically get read to 10% whenever your file is downloaded.   And since the topics are popular, you’re going to get downloaded a lot more than someone’s lovingly-crafted dystopian YA fantasy.      So a lot of the books that look like books are, in fact, poor excuses for humanity masquerading as the written word.    This is a problem and it’s a huge drawback to using the Unlimited service.   I’m less willing to take a chance on unknown authors, and that’s a problem.   It’s a problem that Amazon needs to fix because the perception of value is eroding rapidly.  With so many of the curb-appeal titles failing to deliver, the Kindle Unlimited program is looking more and more like a pig in a poke.   Readers should be outraged.  True authors should be outraged.  And Amazon should pay more attention to what they offer for sale. Is this fraud? Not on Amazon’s part. But they’ve given fraudulent “authors” a platform that should be curtailed.

Book Review–A Room Full Of Bones By Elly Griffiths

A Room Full Of Bones, Elly Griffiths

2012

Electronic / Kindle Edition

This was a Kindle Daily Deal on 31 October, 2013, because it was a “mystery with a halloween theme”.   That, coupled with the fact that Amazon keeps telling me to read the next book in the Ruth Galloway Mystery Series (A Dying Fall) because I liked Ann Cleeves Shetland Island Quartet, is what led me to pick this particular book as my Halloween read.

I have seldom regretted a book choice this much.

I strongly suspect that this book was written for those who’ve read previous entries in the Ruth Galloway series and decided that–for whatever mysterious reason–they like this world and these characters.   Because there really isn’t much mystery to speak of.   Most of the book is told in present tense from shifting points of view.  Ruth and her married-but-sometimes-lover, police DCI Harry Nelson, spend most of the book doing things like getting up and getting breakfast and driving places while thinking about how much they hate various things.

Really.  That’s the thrust of the book.  I can’t count the number of sections that went exactly like this:  “Ruth is hungry.  She makes herself a bowl of porridge and a piece of toast.  Ruth has always hated  porridge, really.  It’s hot and gluey and not at all like a real food.  But it is quick and filling and she has a lot to do today.”

Ruth Galloway is supposed to be an anthropologist specialising in bones (Temperance Brennan, anyone?)  but she seems to be more of a professional atheist specialising in mocking any and all religions.    Even that of her best friend Cathbad, a practicing Druid who used to be called Michael Malone, is unsafe from endless passages deriding religion as “rubbish”.

I don’t expect anyone to adhere to my religion, and I don’t feel hurt when my religion (Christianity) is derided.   After all, it’s outlasted stronger opinions than the negativity from places like Elly Griffiths’ keyboard.  So it’s not a case of Christian butthurt when I assure you the worst part of this book is the relentless anything-but-the-Bible-thumping that Griffiths engages in.   The reader can’t go three pages without being reminded that Ruth hates Christianity, that her parents were nutters of the Fundamentalist Variety and Ruth hates anything to do with any sort of God.   In fact, by reading this paragraph alone I estimate that you have digested at least 75 pages of the book’s total 353.

If these sins aren’t enough to persuade you, let me add that for mystery-novel lovers the book commits an even graver sin yet.   There is very little mystery to be had.   To be sure there’s a dead body in spooky circumstances in the opening chapter, and a subsequent death further down the pike.   But the book isn’t really about figuring out who did it or why.  It’s about Ruth, her baby by Nelson, Nelson and his wife and  the routines all these people go through in the wake of the first suspicious death.   Even the end discovery of “whodunit” is a non-event entirely, mentioned in passing while discussing some mundanity in the characters’ lives.

This is a smudged-dark romance between two bitter forty-year-olds disguised as a mystery.  It is an atheist polemic disguised as a mystery.  It is not a mystery.

I’m giving it two bookworms because I’m in a charitable mood.

2bookworms

Book Review–The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (Book 2 of The Raven Cycle)

Maggie Stiefvater, 2013

Kindle Edition

 

I paid full price for this book without reading a single review.  That’s how much I enjoyed the first book in The Raven Cycle–The Raven Boys.

 

Had I read a review or two I may have waited awhile.

Before you get the wrong idea, allow me to explain.    The Raven Boys was the best sort of YA fantasy.  There was a real air of the mysterious, the offbeat, the unique.   The main characters through whose eyes the story was told were warm and engaging and charming.   I would have given anything to spend two thousand pages in Blue and Gansey’s world.

The second book, however, shares a strength and a weakness in its shift to a different central protagonist.   The Dream Thieves centers upon Ronan Lynch, who is a much darker character with a much more intense headspace.     The book is a richer experience on many levels as it pulls the reader into a beautifully-crafted dreamscape with an elegant mythology.   But it’s so much more relentless in the looming dark of it all.   Ronan is filled with anger beyond anger, a rage that envelopes the text and permeates it with a grim sense of directionlessness and powerlessness.

The Dream Thieves is a well-done book, and an interesting one.   It is not a light read by  any means.   It is a book I enjoyed because the story compelled me through to the end, yet I felt undeniable relief upon finishing it.   It was very much like a teeth cleaning in that “wow, I’m glad I did that but boy am I glad it’s over” way.

I’d give Raven Boys five bookworms, but I’m afraid we’ll have to stick with four for The Dream Thieves.  Any book that’s a relief to finish is a shade less than perfect in my view.

4 bookworms

Books Review: Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Format: 
Electronic
Published: 2011 (Divergent) 2012 (Insurgent)

 

The premise of this dystopian Young Adult trilogy is straightforward enough.  I’d even argue that it is perhaps too straightforward and therein lies its primary undoing.     The books are based on the idea that future Chicago is divided into clans (here known as “factions”) based SOLELY upon the individual’s personality trait.

The first book is the story of one Special Snowflake called Beatrice who leaves the Abnegation (eg. Quaker) faction of her birth for the more daring Dauntless.   She gives herself the cool, hip new name “Tris”, jumps off a seven-story building into a pit and then makes herself over from a quiet blonde in gray to the kind of person you instinctively avoid on the subway.    Most of the first book chronicles her transition from meek child to what is supposed to be an elite warrior but is really nothing more than a person with uncontrolled impulses toward danger.     Theoretically the Dauntless faction is the security and armed force for this fragmented new Chicago.   Reading the story, however, it’s obvious that Veronica Roth has absolutely no CLUE about how one trains a soldier.  For crying out loud, the bulk of my knowledge in the subject comes from GI Jane and George RR Martin novels and even I know that discipline is the primary skill instilled in any soldier.    Yet the Dauntless faction operates on the exact opposite of discipline, praising people for acting on their most erratic impulses.    That means that fully two thirds of the first book are a frustrating mess of watching punk teenagers get even MORE annoyingly idiotic.     The last third of the book shifts gears entirely, dumping us into the inevitable war between the factions that were originally designed to keep the peace.

I can go on and on about how terrible these two books are, about how incomplete their setup is, about how much they don’t make sense.   But instead I’m going to let you in on a bit of a secret.

These are Christian Fiction.   

In her acknowledgements of the first book,  Veronica Roth says “Thank you, God, for your Son and for blessing me beyond comprehension” .   In the second book she thanks God for “keeping His promises”.   Other than those two sentences there is little mention of religion or faith in the thousand-plus pages of story.   But it’s painfully clear that these are meant as a Christian Fiction-style response to The Hunger Games.     By the middle of Insurgent the messages about peace, sacrifice, character are coming fast and furious.   Roth said that she “[tries] to avoid preaching of any kind” yet these books  read like the author has had a steady diet of heavily-polemic Christian Fiction a la Janette Oke and Ted Dekker.

I’m a devout follower of Christ Jesus, and not ashamed of that fact.   Yet I also make no bones about my extreme dislike for most fiction marketed primarily to Christians.   It has been my experience over the past 40 years of being a reader that much of the fiction sold for Christian audiences is more concerned about re-making the philosophical points found in the Bible than it is about telling a story.    Because of that the stories are often weak, illogical, profoundly uninteresting.      What I find very curious about these two books is just how odd  it is to have the weaknesses so prevalent in Christian-targeted fiction and also to not have the overt “and then Jesus saved all of Chicago” moment.       I find myself wishing that Roth had either decided to write a better series or to make this one more open in its morality play.     As it stands, these first two books in this series are doubly-hollow and wholly illogical.

Book Review–The Astronaut Wives Club By Lily Koppel

Title: The Astronaut Wives Club
Author: 
Lily Koppel
Format: 
Electronic
Published: 
2013

This book has shown up in several “Summer Reading” lists; other reviewers have tagged it as a perfect beach read.

I am not quite sure if I still know what a Beach Read is, because in my mind this book is not what I think of when I picture myself lying beside a body of water and escaping into print.

As a NASA geek who has seen The Right Stuff, From Earth To The Moon, and Apollo 13 at least a dozen times each, I was excited when I initially saw this non-fiction book crop up.   The episode of HBO’s From Earth To The Moon which dealt with the wives’ travails was arguably the most poignant of that series and I chomped at the bit for the more in-depth story a book was sure to provide.

It started off annoyingly, essentially copying the first chapter of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (The book upon which the movie was based.)  I was cranky because here this book was, purporting to tell “the untold story” and then starting off by retelling a story I’d heard told a thousand times.    Eventually the book moved away from introductions and into the more personal recountings of the various wives.   I learned interesting things I hadn’t heard before about the Mercury and Gemini programs.  But mostly what I learned was that the astronauts were fickle men with girls in every port and that Deke Slayton encouraged a policy where wives lived in Houston and “Cape Cookie” mistresses lived in the area surrounding Cape Canaveral (later renamed Cape Kennedy).

That’s why I can’t just embrace this book as some sort of fun and happy beach read.   Because reading a seemingly never-ending litany of breaking and broken marriages interspersed with Buzz Aldrin’s post-Lunar depression just isn’t “Beach read” material.  Interesting? Yes.  Educational? At times.  Fun?  No.  Not on your life.

One of the main things that annoyed me was that the book continually described the various women in terms of how pretty they were, at one point naming one of the women as “the most attractive.”   That is some serious garbage right there, especially in a book that claims to be promoting the ideals of sisterhood and female mutual support societies.

In the end the book is heavily skewed toward the Mercury 7 and the Gemini New Nine astronauts and their families; I suspect this is because many of those people are now dead and not as likely to be as offended by the long focus on their clay feet.

So what do I rate this?   It’s another two-parter rating system–sadly enough.   If you are a NASA geek who is into the Space Program and its history this is definitely a must-read as it gives a lot of detail overlooked in other accounts.   For you I’d say it’s a four-worm book.

4 bookworms

If you’re a person looking for something to tuck into your beach bag or download onto your Kindle so that you can while away the hours in the sand…I’m calling this a two-worm book. It’s interesting, sure. It’s well-written after the first chapter, so I can’t in good conscious say it’s a 1-worm book. But it is NOT a fun read. It’s sad and it’s dark and discouraging. Find a Debbie Macomber or Mary Roach instead.
2bookworms

Book Review: Walt Longmire Mysteries #1-3 by Craig Johnson

Title:   The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1)

Death Without Company (Walt Longmire #2)

Kindness Goes Unpunished (Walt Longmire #3)

Author: Craig Johnson

Format: Electronic (Kindle)

Published: 2005-2007

 

When May Sweeps was over, my valiant partner and I combed through Netflix for bingewatching material and found Season 1 of A&E’s Longmire ready and waiting.   It wasn’t until the tenth and final episode that I caught the “Based on the novel…” credit flashing over the beginning action.    I immediately ran to the library website and downloaded the first three books, eager to immerse myself in the Wyoming sheriff’s adventures.    I had enjoyed the show immensely and couldn’t wait to “read more about it” (as they used to say at the end of Afterschool Specials.)

 

I have  good news and I have bad news.   Let’s start with the good, shall we?

These books are very, very good.  That in and of itself is nice to know, seeing as there are thus far nine in the series.   The first book–The Cold Dish–has a few pacing issues as Johnson tries to set up his world and characters but once you learn your way around you really don’t want to leave fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming.

There’s more good news to come, but I think this is a good time to pop in with the bad news.

If you go to these books because you really like the A&E show and want that Walt  and Henry  and Vic and Branch and Ruby…oops.  Sorry.  About the only thing these novels have in common with the TV show are the names of some characters and the general idea of a Wyoming sheriff, his Indian* best friend and his sexy deputy.    The books are completely different in tone, in plot, in story.     While the Walt Longmire of A&E’s cop show is a taciturn father figure with broodingly quiet competence his novel predecessor is garrulous, witty, wordy and philosophical.    The books are written in the first person, and Walt tells his story with liberal amounts of wry wit.   Classical literary allusions pepper the pages; every book has at least one Shakespeare quote.    I’d definitely say the show and the novels are equally enjoyable, but honestly it’s sort of like comparing roast beef and Chicago-style pizza.

The other bad news is that if you come to these looking for traditional series mystery you may disappointed as well.   Each book thus far has a central crime but it’s never much of a puzzle.  Since the books are more about the camaraderie of Walt and his coterie of eccentrics the entertainment value comes from following their interactions.   As far as mysteries go these are quite possibly the complete opposite of the page-turning thrillers by Dan Brown, Jonathan Kellerman, Jeffrey Deaver and Patricia Cornwell.   You still turn the pages, but just to hang out with everybody.  There aren’t that many compelling “gosh, I wonder what that mysterious residue was?” types of questions.   As long as you know that going into it, you’ll be fine.

In fact, as I write this review and ponder the whole thing I realise that the books these remind me most of are the Father Tim/Mitford novels by Jan Karon.   Now, before you think “ugh, I’m not doing that” I don’t mean they’re similar in tone.  It’s just that these books, like those, are highly serialised and highly atmospheric in their setting.   Just as Karon’s books are the story of Mitford and the goofy characters who live there, these are the more butch version, the story of Absaroka County.

Each book does deal with a crime that is solved by the end of the novel, but the overarching stories of Walt, Henry, et. al. carry through from one novel to the next.   It’s very good to know that going into it; it’s also a good idea to have more than one novel on hand because you’ll want to dive right into the subsequent story to see what  happens next.

As far as ratings go, I’d say the books get four bookworms as general fiction.   But if I were rating them as genre police procedurals I’d actually have to give them 2.5-3 bookworms.   In other words–I love them, but the Mystery aspect is NOT their central strength.

4 bookworms

*The books are very clear that the term “Indian” is preferable to Native American from the Indian point-of-view as the Cheyenne do not consider themselves Americans. Not knowing any Cheyenne personally I’ll take Johnson’s word for it.

——
Contest Update
Congratulations go to Bridgett Williams-Searle, who won the giveaway for Anna And The Dragon by Jill Domschot. I apologise profusely for the delay in announcing it. Things went pear-shaped here for a bit. But we’re back on track! Yay!

Book Review–Dragonriders Of Pern by Anne McCaffery

Title: Dragonriders Of Pern
Author: 
Anne McCaffery
Format: 
Electronic
Written: 
1968-1972
Published: 2006

I hesitate to review this omnibus edition of the first three volumes in the Pern series because that series is so beloved I feel a bit as though I’m reviewing people’s spouses, parents, childhood best friends.    I myself never read the books when I was younger; most people I’ve mentioned them to say that they first read them in sixth grade or eighth grade or “when they were just a kid.”   It seems like the Pern novels were a rite of passage which passed me by.

Coming to them fresh, 45 years after the first book–Dragonflight–was published, is an interesting experience indeed.   I’ve read lots of reviews which claim that story was pre-feminist, but I don’t really think that 1968 was pre-feminist at all.  That’s sort of why I’m surprised at the sheer amount of physical abuse that passes for story in the first half of that novel.     When I mentioned to a group of life-long Anne McCaffery fans that I found the partner violence very disturbing they looked momentarily confused and then said “well, he shakes her.  That’s not so bad.”

I have to admit that conversation really has coloured my opinion on these three novels.   A LOT of people read these and admire these stories and get caught up in them.  Are they all willing to dismiss a man repeatedly violently shaking a woman who is a third of his size?  Oh, it’s not so bad to react physically when a person upsets you or challenges you in any way!  Anne McCaffery says so!  She’s the Queen of Dragons.  (Seriously, that’s what the cover art of one of the novels claims.)   When all is said and done, though, I ended up making a strange sort of  detente with that aspect of the book.

I have trouble here, though, because my opinion of the rest of the books is much more vague, harder to draw down into a distilled “yes, these are good/ no, they aren’t good” label that one expects from a book review.   Yes, these books are good.   No they aren’t good.  It’s complicated.

In the Yes column–the anthropologic detail of Pern, it’s structure and culture are fascinating.   After the rocky first half of Dragonflight, which consists mostly of the hero and heroine fighting about everything they can think of, the stories take off and you invariably find yourself interested in whether or not these two will fall in love or that one will figure out the purpose of The Dawn Sisters constellation.    The dragons themselves are enchanting, none more so than the wonderfully endearing Ruth, whom you meet in the third volume, The White Dragon.  If you enjoy dragons and the idea of having dragons as lifelong bonded familiars, then you’ll surely be swept along.

In the No column–McCaffery seems to have written these books for people who like dragons.   They don’t have strong storylines per se.   Each book seems to have two conflicts that arise at random and are resolved rather quickly.   The rest of the books just follow a Pernese or two about his or her daily life for awhile and you get to learn more about the planet and how it works.   I think this is interesting if you’re into that sort of thing, but I did find myself reading pages upon pages of people just doing things without any real goal point in sight.    Even worse is her handling of the various villains, all of whom are over-the-top baddies with no redeeming qualities and no purpose other than to antagonise Our Beloved Heroes.   There is never any resolution provided to the reader either.   We see the villains do terrible things that are gravely upsetting, then later on the conflict the villains’ actions created is handled by the capable Good guys.   The story concludes with someone mentioning that “oh yeah.  The bad guy is rotting away insane in the dungeon now” or some other offhand dismissal.  It’s very unsatisfying and frankly  terrible writing.

The largest problem, though, happens to be the non-dragon good guys.   Two of the main focuses of the story–Lessa in Dragonflight and Jaxom in The White Dragon are some of the least likeable characters to ever grace a page.  The fact that they are the heroes of their respective books makes things difficult.    Lessa is constantly abrasive to those around her.   Jaxom is in a position of power that he exploits in order to have a sexual liaison with one of his employees, a young girl whom he abandons without a second thought or word of explanation when another, “better” woman comes along.   As many times as the book tells the reader that this is totally acceptable on Pern the fact of the matter is that it is NOT totally acceptable on Earth.  And Earth is where the readers are.

So where do we land on this as far as worms go?    I’m going to say “three”.  Then I’m going to hide from everyone who wants them all to be five.

3bookworms

3bookworms

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