Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Completed 10/25/2018, Reviewed 10/27/2018
This was a novel about mechanical dragons that run on fuel and magic. It was pretty good, though the relationships between people were far more in the forefront than the dragons were. I read this book because it was nominated for a Gaylactic Spectrum Award for positive LGBTQ content in SF and Fantasy. It had decent prose, character development, and plot, but there was nothing really new or outstanding about it. It was sort of a steampunk take on “The Dragonriders of Pern” crossed with Victorian England in a magical setting with a gay romance.
The plot follows four characters, Royston, Thom, Hal, and Rook, as their lives intersect during a lull in a hundred years war. Royston is a magician who is exiled for having had an affair with a neighboring countries crown prince. Hal is a tutor to the children of Royston’s brother, where Royston has been exiled. Hal and Royston fall in love. Rook is the best dragon rider on the ruler’s Dragon Corps, but has been reprimanded for having had an affair with another country’s ambassador’s wife. Thom is the university student who is brought into the Dragon Corps to give the rowdy riders sensitivity training. Their lives cross when Royston is called back to the capital to help with the war. He brings back Hal with him. At the same time, Rook and the other riders begin noticing strange things happening to their dragons as fighting begins erupting again with their enemy.
The book is told in first person narrative alternating between all four characters. At first this was tough to follow, but each character was developed pretty well. I’m guessing that each author had two characters and they wrote around each other. It worked, and moved the plot nicely.
I liked all the characters except Rook. He was a vile, amoral person with no redeeming qualities. Even as an antagonist to Thom, he was just way too over the top. It was actually hard to read his passages, because he was so distasteful. My favorite character was Hal. He was a country bumpkin who is just coming into his sexuality. He’s meek, honest, and wears his heart on his sleeve. Thom was also good as the university student trying to make the Dragon Corp palatable to society. Royston the magician was rather lackluster. There wasn’t too much to his character to make him outstanding. The one thing that’s really noticeable about the book is that there are no female characters to speak of. It gives the book an unbalanced feeling as there is no female perspective to anything going on.
There isn’t much more to say about the book because there isn’t that much to it. It’s kind of fluff, but I found it entertaining. I give the book three stars out of five. I think the book would have benefited from having a little more action interspersed through the first half of the book, which is almost exclusively about the relationships between the characters. Considering the book has magical mechanical dragons and is entitled with the name of Rook’s dragon, there isn’t all that much going on with them.