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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DragonLight by Donita K Paul

When we review a book we usually have at least two of our judges read it and after a period of discussion one of them writes the final review. In this case the two judges had such differing views they could not be reconciled into a single review. Therefore we have decided to post two separate reviews of this novel that show the differing perspectives. First of all we all agree on the description so here it is:

Now that Amara has had rest from war, the dragon races are thriving. Kale and her father are taking care of dragons that are hatching left and right. The country seems to be at peace. But all is not well in Amara. A cult calling themselves the Followers of Paladin has appeared throughout the country. They claim to be revealers of the real truth of Wulder and Paladin. They are encouraging the seven high races to join their ranks and to donate money to their cause. Kale and Bardon set out to discover the meaning of this as they travel with Regidor and Gilda to find the lost meech colony. But then another disaster strikes. An enormous black dragon named Mot Angra is awakening from his deep slumber, and is causing earthquakes with his movement. Every time he sheds a scale, it turns into a vicious minor dragon. These small black creatures are swarming the countryside and wreaking havoc. As they are under attack at every side, Kale and Bardon must stand firm to defeat their foes.

Now the first review:

It is clear the Donita K Paul had no business writing this fifth addition in the DragonKeeper saga. The writing style is not at all like her normal self. It is choppy and disjointed, thus revealing that she threw this novel together just to have it.

Any personalities these characters had in the first four books are gone. They have become the typical non-characters you would expect from a fantasy novel. The only good character is Toopka, and it was about time she developed a personality. Gilda is the only character who retains her personality, but in the end, she turns into a perfect character. Toopka and Gilda are two of the only positive things in this book.


is another mindless quest to go with the other mindless fantasy quests on the market. The characters go here, the characters go there. A problem appears, the problem is fixed. And many things are fixed in the end. Here is a quick summary:

There appears to be four key character deaths at the end. In the end, they are brought back to life. One character is good example of the cost of having a gift-he is blind yet he has the power of premonition and foresight. This character's eyes are healed in the end. The inevitable showdown with Mot Angra ends predictably. A ridiculous CRT is the source of most of these healings and fixings.

Besides that, there are other typical plot ideas like pregnancy in the two married couples and cult mentalities. Also, Kale's myriad of minor dragons makes her and Bardon invincible. They can do anything by just calling a minor dragon. This combined with Kale's wizard powers makes them invincible. They never have to work for anything. Donita should have had Kale lose her powers at the end of the previous book and ended the series there. That would have the original thing to do.

Basically, what Donita has done with this novel is stoop to the level of all other cheap fantasy. The first four books in this series are above such cheap fantasy. I wish Donita had not ended her series on such a sour note.

At least there is hope for the future of Donita K Paul.

2 stars

Here is the second opinion:

Contrary to the opinion of my partner I quite enjoyed this novel. I certainly do not feel that it is perfect and acknowledge that it has several problems but it deserves a better rating than he assigned. First about those problems, most of them are contained in the final fifty pages something that is all too common for Ms Paul.

There is one silly object that seems to have the power to do almost anything namely healing and defeating enemies. Also I have grown a bit weary of Kale's entourage of powerful creatures. However Kale herself remains to be a good character and struggles with her own sinful nature in a way that adds great depth to the plot. She is far from perfect and at one point her powers are even limited for a time. I was also relieved that we did not have to endure yet another quest littered with battles with mordakleeps and grawligs. These same scenes were not missed as the heroes dealt with other enemies instead. Finally the other interesting aspect was that the cult involved is a very interesting group with an interesting explanation. Holt the marione continues to be an intriguing character and does not come to a perfect end. One particular tool invented by the seemingly all powerful Regidor has trouble functioning at some points a small thing that combined with several others creates a realistic element in the plot. The only way this book could have been improved would be to have a more imperfect end and tone down all of the powers a little. I know that on this site we are critical of healings in plots but sometimes they occur and I will not pull down an entire plot just because one occurs. Also I believe that the statement by my partner that there seemed to be four key character deaths is ridiculous. If the reader got this impression it was for about half of a page and similarly to the healing issue, I will not require there to be a death in order to approve of a plot. Deaths can add a realistic and original aspect to a plot but they are not necessary and this "false death" is nothing compared to some that have been pulled off.

Obviously there are differing opinions here but I think that if you look for the good you can certainly find it here. I am no faithful optimist who tries to shine the best light on every book I review and I still hold very negative opinions about several books, but when a book is not deserving of a bashing I am not afraid to defend it. I would similarly write a challenging review if my partner wrote one that I deemed too positive.

All in all this is a good fantasy plot especially when compared to other fantasies and young adult books that are on the market. It has its issues and it is not the best end to the series but Paul's creativity and ability to pull you into her world keeps this book Elite.

4 stars

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