Posts Tagged ‘ originality ’

The Lost Dragon – Drako – The Last Spartan Warrior

The Lost Dragon Drako Read Review Holly Ice Author

I was gifted this book on a read for review arrangement

This book surprised me. At first I thought it was going to be a “very boy” action packed fight ’em up. Then I learnt the protagonist was gay. That was a direction I was not expecting and it kept me reading!

The main character, Andreas, is a black dragon god decendant. His father, Jarel, is the black dragon god who holds as much, if not more, power than Zeus, the leader of Olympus. The story follows the action as subordinate gods and “rogues” (those who defy the rules of the gods) try to bring back an ancient power.

It is good to see books which have a twist not usual in their genre and that is what captured me, at first, with this book. However, I have to be honest and mention its faults as well as its great points.

Good Points

Originality – the content of the story does a lot to bring action fantasy out of its stale niche.

Characterisation – almost all characters are well rounded and feel realistic.

Plot – the plot flows really well, obviously crafted with a good hand for structure. It is also original, new, and kept me reading to see what happened next.

Ending – the ending set up for another book and still managed to keep most ends tied up. I myself have trouble with endings so I have to give props where props are due here.

The Discussion

The cover, for instance, would not have made me pick the book up. I understand there is an illustrator etc but it is not my style of art and the picture is not perfectly centred on the background. The writing however is appropriate for genre and looks good.

On to the intro: the protagonist is fighting for Sparta before the main time line of the story in the modern age. The plot idea here is great but this first scene needs tidying up. Words are repeated in the first scene (‘thought’ twice in the first 3 sentences – ‘slash’ is also used as a verb twice on the first page).

This is, of course, looking at the text on a micro level but these repetitions do get noticed by a reader and it makes the narrative seem clunky. There is also a little bit of over exposition here.

However, to the good points: this problem seems to disappear for the most part after the first scene. My advice would be for the author to read over this scene and double check they are happy with it. Perhaps it would read better from Andreas’ POV as a memory? This would give us greater insight into the character early on.

Narrative issues later in the story are much more minor and sparse. I think I saw one ‘site’ instead of ‘sight’ and on one page an ‘is’ was missing from a sentence etc – nothing huge at all.

The only big problem later on is the lack of description for Solaris and Cassandra. Solaris is not described beyond cliffs and big halls. It needs colour to the landscape as well as the gods and others inhabiting it.

Meanwhile Cassandra falls flat for me. All the other characters are well rounded with great characterisation and very original (more good points) but Cassandra accepts things too easily. She is pulled this way and that with no argument at all. Even for a healer, this goes too far for a woman’s personality imo, especially as she is not a mopy young pacifist.

The transition into her “new form” (trying for no spoilers here) also needs better handling. She grows but not much about her appearance or carriage is mentioned otherwise. It also seems as if her personality changes substantially. This character, I feel, needs more time devoted to her.

As a minor point, Jarel sees her as a love interest for Andreas even though he already knows why this romance cannot happen – perhaps this love interest idea should be played down, more implied than real or made more cryptic as a red herring.

The last problem I have is the fight scenes. Mostly, there are, as other reviewers have suggested, descriptive and original. However in a few places I noticed the same area of the body was hit repeatedly and yet the narrative did not say ‘again’ or imply this is recognised. A couple of times the kicks or punches seems infeasible in the positions I was lead to believe the characters were in. Also a few times different characters got hit in the same place, and way, close together. This just needs straightening out a little. Also, I feel these fights could benefit from shorter sentences rather than convoluted ones as sometimes I started to lose interest and fall out of the action.

Although I have to say that these scenes are much more original in flips and moves and injuries than I can think of on the spot so congrats to the author for that.

Considering the good points and the discussion points, as well as my definite enjoyment for the read, I have to give this book a 4/5.

It is well structured and paced with mostly great characters and very original content. This trumps the few minor slip ups as well as the need to re-evaluate Cassandra’s persona as the novel is still very readable as is.

The book can be found on amazon here: The Lost Dragon, Drako should you wish to read it.

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

I hope you liked the review. Any suggestions or additions/disagreement with what I’ve said then please comment below. Ciao!

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“Mummy, where’s the sky gone?” (World Creation).

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Many of us more fantasy aligned types have thought about or actually tried to create a new world in a story to varying degrees of success.

So, I will explore: What makes a strong world?

  • Rules.

Yes, yes. World creation is all about imagination, fun. There are no rules! But, there are. Sorry. A world is only chaotic to a point.

There needs to be some degree of consistency. For example, in Laurell K Hamilton’s books werecreatures, vampires and many other types of creature of the night/day and known to the general public.

This is a pretty popular idea. What makes it good is that society changes. The rules change to accommodate this change in history:

Parents don’t want their children to be taught by werecreatures in case they are infected somehow by blood to blood contact. (The usual parent overprotection).

Necromancers are employed to reanimate the dead to sort arguments over their wills or verify how they died for insurance companies.

But this isn’t all. These supernaturals aren’t gods.
– They can be killed.
– Zombies can only be raised for a day before they rot.

There are LIMITATIONS to their powers. Every character you write about needs limitations, be it inside a new world or our own.

These limitations also go toward the next condition of a good world:

  • Realism.

How many times has there been a big bad vampire who hates mankind and suddenly falls in love, seemingly at the drop of a hat, with a rather stupid (and very young) human?

Think about it. It wouldn’t happen. The years a vampire would have on the young human would make them boring, if attractive. A vampire jaded for so many years would be more likely to eat/fuck them than start a relationship.

Even if you don’t talk about vampires, or have a bad guy…humans can’t live on lava without protective systems in place. Magic doesn’t come out of nowhere. It lives in the genes or radiation or alien experiments. Or, humans have always had it perhaps but it doesn’t come out of nowhere!

Part of realism is also good description. A good world cannot be created without a good idea of what it looks like. However, one caveat: don’t go overboard! The amount of fantasy stories I’ve tried to read which start straight off the bat with new words I’ve never seen and names with too many apostrophes…it doesn’t bear thinking about.

My advice: start simple. Bring your audience into a new world slowly. Let them acclimatise. Show them one or two things at a time. Don’t use too many new words too quickly. Be kind to your reader or they’ll throw your book across the room. (Or click that big nasty red X in the top right hand corner of their screen).

Now for the next big condition.

  • Originality.

This doesn’t mean vampires, angels and fairies aren’t allowed. It means find a new angle. Talk about them in a new way. Find an aspect that hasn’t been explored. Turn stereotypes on their head.

Talk about evil angels, vampires in the circus, tamed by humans, fairies that live in parrot cages in the front room of every home. Come up with something new (but interesting)!

Novelty sells, if it’s good.

One big problem writers have with fantasy writing is…

  • Character.

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Writers get so wound up and lovingly intertwined with their new world that they forget about the people in it. Here’s what I view to be the most important thing with new worlds and fantasy: we have to relate.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. Yes, you have a new world, something never seen or heard of before. Maybe the people have two heads, eight legs or maybe they’re telepathic; it doesn’t matter. They still need elements of humanity, on the inside.

This can be many things: clumsiness, an ability to anally organise their whole life, a fear of the dark, vanity… There are so many examples!

This is important: without relateability, your readers won’t like your story. If the main character isn’t like them or their friends or their enemies, if the story in some way doesn’t help explain their world, they won’t read your story.

The last and probably most important condition I can think of is:

  • Freedom.

You have to be free as a writer to create a world. Umbrellas don’t exist, seas don’t exist, monogamous sex doesn’t exist. Don’t think about what others may think of your story or if they’ll judge you.

No matter what you write, hell even if you don’t write, people will judge you. That’s life. This is writing. Get over it.

Even big writers like Stephen King get hate mail on a weekly basis.

So what? He still sells. His books are still read. He has lots of money.

As a writer you have to be prepared to write badly (this is what edits and rewrites are for – or that very useful recycling bin). You have to be prepared to put the preposterous onto paper.
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Maybe sex gives a person the memories of their partner. Maybe sex swaps consciousnesses of people so sex must be had in sets of two? Maybe hair colour is changeable at will?

It’s for you to decide. It’s for you to come up with the consequences in your world.

And, for god’s sake, it doesn’t reflect on you (or shouldn’t). What your characters do and say should be about their personalities, not yours. That’s what a good reader would see. That’s what a good story does – it takes you on a journey through imagined lives and, perhaps, imagined worlds.

All the pictures featured here are by surrealist painters. Surrealism is your best friend.

Here are the links to the galleries of the two artists featured:
http://vladimirkush.com/
http://kukowski.pl/
Some artistic nudity is present.

Please feel free to explore their sites and enjoy their talent.

As usual, I can be found on twitter, too. Look here: Me
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