Monday, July 21, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour: DragonLight Day 1

Today we begin the blog tour "for real." This month's featured book is DragonLight by Donita K. Paul, the final book in the DragonKeeper series. I've really looked forward to reading this, the final entry.

In it, Kale Allerion and her husband, Bardon, along with the rest of the citizens of Amara, have been at peace after the defeat of Burner Stox and Crim Cropper. Kale's flock of dragons has increased exponentially and Bardon has been hard at work with his duties as a magistrate. But the time has come for them to go on another quest. Along with Regidor and Gilda, they set out to find the lost meech colony.

But all is not well in the lands ruled by Paladin. A strange new sect has arisen called the Followers. They claim to follow new mandates handed down by Paladin himself. And what of the strange attacks by small black dragons who seem focused on destroying Kale?

As the final chapter in this series unfolds, Kale and Bardon find themselves fighting for their lives and those they love against an ancient, slumbering evil that is close to waking up.

While Paul's writing was excellent as always, I finished the book feeling a little disappointed. The story judt didn't hang together that well for me.

For starters, there was the Followers. In my opinion, this subplot felt tacked on, almost like it was filler. I was fascinated and quite excited that Kale and Bardon would be taking on a nefarious heresy, exposing the evil that lurked beneath the surface while putting their lives at risk. Truth be told, I was more interested in the Followers than in the search for the missing meech colony.

This may be "Monday morning quarterbacking," but I think the Followers could have been the center of the book. Instead, they became something Kale and Bardon did while they were waiting around for the "main quest" to keep going. Most of the action (including the Followers rise to power and subsequent fall) happened "off stage," so to speak. They played such a minor role in the book, it almost felt like they were put in to fill out the book a little. Since Bardon and Kale played a very minor role in their downfall, it left me wondering why the Followers were in there at all.

Second, there's the way the book ended. In some ways, it felt like a deus ex machina to me. Or in this case, a deus ex doneel. This includes how Gilda became a true "good guy." It felt a bit unnatural.

And finally, there's the way this book relates to the other four. It felt a bit anticlimactic and it's all because of the villain they faced.

The villain didn't seem worthy of being the "big bad evil" in the final book of the series. There was a definite "hierarchy of evil" in the previous four books that went something like this:

1) Pretender
2) Risto
3) Burner Stox & Crim Cropper.
Risto gets wiped out in the second book. Burner and Crim are brought to justice in the fourth. So you would think that the final book would lead to some massive confrontation with the greatest evil Amara has ever faced, something to do with Pretender. Instead, Paul introduces a new evil, one who is definitely bad but didn't seem like a natural outgrowth of the stories thus far.

That is perhaps the part of that frustrated me the most. While Paul did drop a few hints in two of the previous books about how this final story would play out, it wasn't enough. There should have been other threads about this final big bad guy woven in through the previous books, just enough so that we could look back later and go, "Hey, yeah! I remember her talking about that!"

Instead, the villain seemingly pops up out of nowhere and didn't seem connected to what came before. To put it another way, imagine if in Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam defeated Sauron and destroyed the One Ring in The Two Towers and then the former Fellowship did battle with space aliens in the final book.

In spite of what might be perceived as a massive dose of negativity, I have really enjoyed the DragonKeeper books. Like I said yesterday, I've enjoyed sojourning in the creative and colorful world that Paul created. And I'm also looking forward to the next series that's apparently starting up in 2009. I just wish that the final book of this series sat better with me.

Make sure to check out what other people are saying on the tour, especially those with the asterisk next to them. Consider them "Blog Tour All-Stars." They've been with the tour since the beginning, which was focused around DragonKnight:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
* Beth Goddard
Mark Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Terri Main
* Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
* Rebecca LuElla Miller
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
* Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
* Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams


Fantasythyme said...

John, That was a good point about the Hierarchy of evil and Pretender. I may have expected that Pretnder was behind the Followers and the black dragons.
Once I read about a new series, it made sense that Pretender might still be out there planning and maybe readying a new asault.


Robert Treskillard said...

"A deus ex doneel" ... that is just hilarious!

Also, I have a theory as to why the plot with the "Followers" was included in the book, but you'll have to take a look at my Day 2 post I put out this morning.

Also, I second not having the Pretender finished off in this book. If you do that, there's no more room for a follow on series!

John said...

It's true, since Pretender is the highest of the evils, it wouldn't make sense for them to take him out at the end of the series.

At the same time, seeing as Risto, Stox, and Cropper were the focus in one way or another, it seemed odd for the "big baddy" in the finale to be from out in left field. That's all I'm saying.

Robert Treskillard said...

Maybe a future book will show a direct connection between the Pretender and the Followers. Maybe even Mot Angra. There's always room for that.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I thought Mot Angra was a true villain. The evil wizards just didn't show up enough for me to feel they were real threats. Even Risto.

I did think Pretender was behind it all because the Followers were pretending to represent Wulder. Maybe that was too easy.

And didn't you think the Toopka ending was foreshadowed sufficiently? I knew from way early in the book that she was the one to deliver the kiss of death, so to speak. How and when and where were always in doubt. My nly problem with the end was that it was too fast.

Great series of posts, John.