Thanks to his time in the military and his work as a SCA mentor, Adam has been trained for battles, both real and imagined. But that doesn’t prepare him for accidentally ending up in another dimension where a dragon hunts from above and massive lizards are used for transportation. He allies himself with a princess and her escort in a quest to find a sword that might stop the dragon. It’s dangerous and overwhelming, but at least it means spending time with Duin.
Life hasn’t been particularly kind to Duin and he’s ostracized by more than one aspect of society, but Adam doesn’t view him as anything other than wonderful. It’s a new experience for Duin and he’s determined to enjoy whatever moments they have together. But with danger around every corner and the fate of a kingdom on the line, Adam and Duin might not have time to find their happily ever after.
This is one of those reviews that is going to be a bit complicated. It took me weeks to finish Dragonslayer because I disliked it almost from the first page. And that opinion never changed. Yet, despite this, the book has a solid, if somewhat tired plot line and enough adventure to make some readers quite happy. So it’s always a conundrum to figure out if I don’t like a book because it has serious issues or because the issues are mine alone. And with Dragonslayer, I’m not really sure if I figured out the answer.
The plot to Dragonslayer isn’t exactly fresh, but the author handles it all right, at least in an ordinary sort of way. There are some pretty big plot holes, which I found frustrating, but the main points get made. It felt quite flat and boring to me, which I think stems from my inability to connect with either the characters or their plight. There is a fair bit of world building here and while I never found it immersive, I appreciate the efforts put forth by the author to create something unique.
My biggest frustrations with Dragonslayer are the characters, Adam specifically. He never seems too bothered by the fact he ends up in a fantasyland. I mean, it barely registers with him, which seemed so unbelievable as to be preposterous. In fact, Adam often seems more interested in getting his rocks off than worrying about the problems around him. It doesn’t make his character very likeable and I never understood why the others around him were so quick to consider him some mythical hero. The secondary characters are flat as pancakes and they felt like game pieces moving mechanically across a board rather than characters that had any real emotional connection to their journey. Even Duin, who is by far the most sympathetic character in the book, never felt dimensional.
The ending to Dragonslayer, which should have been the well-earned payoff for our characters and the readers, turns into something of a jumbled mess. There are moments of despair involving two major players and I actually found myself caring about those characters for perhaps the first time. And then the author obliterates all that with an awkward and frankly unnecessary epilogue. Had the events prior to the epilogue remained valid, Dragonslayer would have had a painful, but perhaps more honest ending. Instead, everything gets trivialized and waved away with no real resolution or feeling of satisfaction.
Dragonslayer didn’t work for me on multiple levels. I couldn’t connect with the characters and felt the ending stripped the book of its moment of possible redemption. There is a fair amount of adventure to be had, but I found story boring and lacking in desperately needed depth. Some of you might read this and feel quite differently as there are plenty of questing themes and a solidly built world to explore. So while I couldn’t enjoy it, there may be some readers out there who find Dragonslayer quite engaging.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.