Friday, September 3, 2010
Review: Dragonverse by Doug Farren
I don't usually read fantasy novels, so I was surprised to find myself drawn to the sample for Dragonverse by Doug Farren. In spite of its epic adventure aspirations, it's a fairly simple, sweet little story about a man who is left a house by his absentee uncle and learns that the man is not dead as he thought, but rather has moved permanently to a parallel world in which humans are psychically bound with dragons who spend their lives searching for their intended human half.
The protagonist Terry of course follows his uncle over to this other world and meets his intended dragon. From here, it gets a tad predictable. There is an evil uber-dragon threatening the world, and a prophecy about an uber-good dragon/man pairing who will defeat him. Three guesses who that turns out to be!
On the good, I appreciated seeing a fantasy world that had aged with the times. I think one of the reasons I don't usually read fantasy is the sameness of many of the stories. All the elves and dragons seem stuck in a perpetual Renaissance Faire that makes such books hard for me to distinguish from the other. The fantasy world in this book has cities with electricity and modern conveniences. When Terry applies his Lord of the Rings preconception filter to the world, he is quickly set straight about how elves have modernized too!
On the less good, I did find the story a tad predictable as I said. Certainly, anyone who has widely read in this genre will find it extremely derivative. There was also a fair chunk of time spent on exploratory exposition as Terry learned the mores of dragon world. I would expect to see the apparently intended sequel to be brisker-paced; if I were the author, I would make the sequel as fantastic as I could and then offer this establishing novel as a freebie to promote it.
I would also consider downgrading the ages of the protagonists. With its fairly g-rated action and coming of age type feel as Terry learns to work with his dragon in a new world, this would be a great YA novel. The grown-ups it is geared for now are likely to be wider-read in this genre and might find the story a bit too by-the-numbers.
That said, there were some fun parts---and really sweet moments---that elevated the story a bit for me. So, I'm going to say 3.5/5 for this one. Clean up some late-appearing typos, give me a bang-up sequel and work on your marketing plan a little and you'll have me for part 2, Mr. Farren!