woman kneeling beneath a big scary dragonAnother one I read for the Endeavour Award. I came awfully close to flinging this one against the wall, but it’s a library book so I didn’t.

It doesn’t help that I came to this saga with the second book, but I don’t think much of anything would have helped me like this book. Cardboard characters, cardboard setting, cardboard plot. Over-zealous use of the thesaurus coupled with way too many made-up words.

I came to think of the book as an attempt to write a woman character in a setting like the Conan the Barbarian books, but that makes it sound interesting. The protagonist is a woman in a male-dominated society who’s become addicted to dragon venom which when ingested is a stimulant and hallucinogen. She’s also being nagged by the ghost of her mother who appears to her in the form of various flying creatures when she is in mortal danger and tries to get her to go searching for her long lost sister. She has talked a dragon master into taking her on as an apprentice despite the fact that women don’t do that (something about a prophetic scroll here. sigh.)

She faces all kinds of humiliations. When complaining about the book to Becky and Rachel I called it “dragon porn”. This is another description that makes the book sound interesting in a way that it’s not. The book opens with the protagonist being flogged. And not nice cuddly consensual sexy flogging, but the nasty version inflicted by someone who’s hurting her just cause he feels like it. That’s just the beginning of the series of degrading and life-threatening treatments she undergoes. I’m sure there are people who’d enjoy the fantasy of this sort of treatment, but they’ll have to overlook all the cardboard to get their kicks. I can’t imagine that it would be worth it.