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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

OT: Book Review

Here's the first of my "Blogging for Books" review.

I'll do horsey ones as I can, but as I'm an advid reader that takes what I can get, there's no promises. I didn't have a lot of selection for my first book, so it's decidely non-horse and non-endurance.


And after me blasting this book with dragon-like ferocicity, I may not GET a chance to read a horsey book. *shrugs* I give books the benefit of a doubt where I can....but I'm not going to mince words either.

If any of you are interested in ranking this review, you can see it on the publishing website here.

Blogging for Books Review: Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul

I wanted to like Dragons of the Valley - who doesn't like a nice getaway to a foriegn land with dragons? I'm not even too picky - the plot can be predictable and the characters cookie cutter and I'm still happy to spend hours immersed in the fantasy.

At first I was sure the problem was me - maybe I wasn't in the right state of mind, or too stressed, or too tired. Over 3 months I tried reading the book in a variety of situations (during lunch, on a backpacking trip, in the evening, on a vacation). Each time I would get a few pages in and then find myself bored - willing to do almost anything to avoid reading further - even going to bed early.

Last night I finally steeled myself and promised the book 50 pages. A very wise librarian once told me to give a book 50 pages - if I'm still utterly disinterested after 50 pages, I've given the book a fair chance I should be able to set it aside without guilt.

And that, I am sad to say, is what I have done with this book.

Often, as a writer, you can learn more from a book you did not enjoy (or found un-readable) than a classic. I’m going to outline some of what I consider the books’ “fatal flaws”.

1. Have unpronounceable character names that are similar to each other in terms of length of characters used.

2. Explaining too much in terms of characters feelings/actions etc. There is a balance between providing enough information to intrigue and interest – and providing so much it’s like reading a rather dull and uninspired diary of an omnipotent being for everyone involved in the story.

3. Not providing enough background for new readers so that they care about your characters as much as your returning characters. If you can’t do so in the story (and most of the time, authors can – see how Walter Farley does this throughout his Black Stallion series), then provide a condensed prelude at the beginning to bring everyone up to speed.

4. Being too simplistic about the new world and providing generic items in your fantasy world. Part of the fun about reading fantasy is to explore the wonders of a new world. Exploring the naming traditions of 2 mythical creatures that were named “Roof” and “Door” was entertaining and fun. To be told that the wizard gave the traveler a “healing potion” that will cure anything is a bit…anticlimactic. Unfortunately there is too much of the latter and not enough of the former.

5. Getting into the rather dull politics and “talk” too early on without the action plot or character development plot furthered enough to support it. It’s hard for me to read the various arguments for and against a theoretical situation until the author has made me care.

Bottom line – if you have read the first books of the trilogy and enjoyed them, and would like to visit with some familiar characters, maybe this is the book for you. As a new reader to the author, I found myself completely disinterested in the plot and characters, and thus the book did not stand up to the “50 page rule”.

Now the legal stuff – I was provided this book for free through the “blogging for books” service through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. The opinions here are mine and mine only.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes writing "dog" reviews is more fun, ultimately, than writing reviews of good books.

    (here's one of mine: )


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