Dragon Fate by J.D. Hallowell

WARNING!  This book is not DRM-free!

The Rating:

What would you like to be when you grow up?  We have all been asked this question, but who has ever been asked what it’s like to be growing up.  If you are a dragon (which you’re not… unless there’s something you’re not telling me 😉 ) and someone asked you this not often asked question, J. D. Hallowell would respond with, “Hey, I wrote a book on that!”

Wait a minute, doesn’t the book description talk about intrigue?  Renegades?  World threatening “bad guys?”  Yes, and so does this book… eventually.

The Good:
Hallowell definitely thought a lot about this book before and during the writing process.  The highlight of and primary content in Dragon Fate is watching a dragon growing up.  Throughout this journey the reader has to opportunity to learn about dragon anatomy, biology, chemistry, culture etc.  Dragons being present in a fantasy novel is nothing novel (oh noes!  The puns!).  Mostly, however, they are involved mostly like any other non-character object would be in the world building process.

Author: “Let’s see here.  In order to make a good fantasy novel I need magic, swords, elves, mountains, forests, bad guys, heroes… oh, and dragons.”

Dragon Fate not only uses dragons because it is the thing to do, but it is about dragons.  Some would say that this book is a concise introduction to dragons.  If you don’t know anything about dragons, read this book and you will know everything there is to know about them: growth rate, diet, flight, fire-breath, etc.  I applaud Hallowell for putting so much thought and effort into what it means to be a developing dragon.

Something else that stands out in Dragon Fate is the relationship between dragon and rider.  This is by far the best part of the book.  The reader gets to experience their relationship as it buds and grows through the whole process of dragon development.  The dragon and her rider have a special bond that is not easily broken (unless you consider death easy… and if you do, don’t spread it around unless you want to be locked in a padded room wearing nothing but a straight jacket).

The Bad:
I could sum this up just by saying “the first two thirds of the book,” but that would be boring and doesn’t explain a whole lot.  Why did this book only deserve 2 stars?  Well, it was a hard choice between 2 stars and 3 because the last third of the book is actually pretty good and definitely deserves 3 or maybe even 4 stars.  This is where the plot starts picking up, and things happen, the story moves forward.  For the first two thirds of the book, however, we are simply watching a dragon grow up.  If you are a parent and you just loved sitting and staring at your kids while they grew, this may be the book for you.  It is not necessary the growing up that is the problem, but the way that it was done.

Like I said, what was good about this book is all of the time and effort put into what it means to be a dragon growing up, but this unfortunately doesn’t translate into good writing.  Most of the description was Delno (the protagonist) asking a question and the dragon, or someone else who knows a lot about dragons, answering.  This leaves giant sections of the book for extensive dialogue and in-depth explanation of the inner workings of dragons.  Unfortunately this is neither thought provoking or engaging from the reader’s stand-point.  Have you ever had someone explain something to you with such great detail that your eyes begin to glaze over and you lose focus on what they are even saying?  I can’t imagine how Delno didn’t experience this, because as a reader, I sure did.  This is the only issue with this book, but it is a big one.  If it takes two thirds of a book for the action and plot to finally start, many people will put it down not knowing if it will ever go anywhere.  I was tempted a number of times to set it aside for something else more engaging, but I pressed on and found that eventually it gets better, but you have to drudge through a lot of less than engaging sections before getting there.

When a book is done, usually the plot ends.  Yes, Dragon Fate has an ending, but I wouldn’t say it is a good one.  There is some conclusion and certain elements of the plot get resolved, but a lot is left unanswered.  I found myself wanting to know more about the characters in the story and the cultures of the world and less about the dragons and their anatomy.  I suppose this leaves room for the sequel, but what was introduced was not finished in an climactic way.  Because only the last third of book focused on plot and character development, a lot of it felt like Hallowell was done explaining about dragons and now just wanted to rush to the end to get the book over with.

There were a few spelling grammar errors that I noticed, but all in all this did not take away from the book.  Mostly they were incorrect or missing words and there maybe 4 or 5 in the entire 377 page book.  This, at least for me, was not a big issue at all, but it wouldn’t hurt for Hallowell to give it one more run through with the editor(s).

Conclusion:
All in all, this book was bearable, but barely.  I enjoyed the ending and I was glad to see the book through, but the journey there was like pulling teeth in slow motion.  Sometimes it is necessary to pull teeth, but if so, do it and get it over with instead of dragging it out like some sadistic dentist.  I hope that Dragon Blade (the second book in this series) progresses the plot better and does away the extensive explanation of the magic system and the inner workings of dragons, these having already been explained in this title, but am not crossing my fingers.  Dragon Fate had great potential and a good plot, but it was all fairly poorly implemented and left me feeling dry and unengaged by the tale.

Special Note:
I did not purchase this book, but was gifted it by the author.  As there is currently no way to buy a DRM-free version and I wanted to check out this title, I directed my concern to Hallowell and he gave me a copy Dragon Fate as well as Dragon Blade both DRM-free.  Hallowell assures me that he is currently working on offering e-book versions of these two title for purchase on his website, and the copies sold there will all be DRM-free, but until this feature is implemented, there is no sane way to purchase these titles.  If you are interested in this book, I would encourage you to contact the author directly or wait until you can purchase a DRM-free copy directly from him.

Where you can find it:

Nowhere DRM-free

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