Monday, 25 November 2013

Review: Greater Treasures: A DragonEye Novella

Greater Treasures: A DragonEye Novella
Greater Treasures: A DragonEye Novella by Karina L. Fabian

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven't read any of this author's books before, so this 99c novella acted as an introduction. It's good enough that I'll probably look for some more, though it's not my new favourite.

The premise: it's a liminal fantasy (this world and a world of magic become connected, and the story takes place on the borderland where magic and technology mix). The dragon defeated by St George was not killed, but reduced in power, and is now working as a noirish PI along with a magic-using nun, basically earning his powers back by doing good works. (The author is Catholic, and so is the dragon.)

It's a premise with a combination of well-worn and fresh elements, and overall it worked for me.

The language: The book is generally well-written and the standard of editing is high, with only a couple of typos, impressive in an indie book.

The characters: Vern, the dragon and first-person POV character, is convincingly both a dragon and a noir PI. He values his partner the nun very highly (in this story, she's injured early on and functions mainly as a motivator for his actions, but I would expect that in the series in general she has a more active role), and is, on the whole, a decent being trying to do the right thing. In part, this is because he can regain some of his dragon abilities by doing so, but it also seems to be heartfelt.

The secondary characters are not very developed, inevitably in a novella. They're one step above cardboard cliches, with at least a sense of being individuals, even if that individuality isn't fully explored.

The plot: it's a fairly standard McGuffin plot straight out of the noir playbook. There's an untrustworthy dame who hires Vern, an untrusting policeman who reluctantly works with him, all the usual stuff, plus the danger-to-the-partner subplot. At novella length, plots are usually not that complicated, and this is no exception.

I felt the eventual resolution was a bit of a cheat, since if it was something that would have worked I would expect it to be a known solution already, rather than the spur-of-the-moment improvisation it's presented as. That's what lost the story the fourth star. It made good emotional and symbolic sense but bad logical sense, and to me, a resolution should be both emotionally satisfying and also plausible.

I liked the matter-of-fact, non-preachy incorporation of a living faith into the lives of the characters, and was impressed by the standard of the editing, but if this is to be a favourite series I'll be looking for more depth and greater plausibility in other stories.

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