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Sunday, September 24, 2006

***½ Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn. Fantasy.


This book took me four days to read. Four. I normally read a book or so a day. And it's not even all that long: 500-some pages. I don't mind slow, atmospheric reads on occasion, but it's likely that my impatience with the slow pace accounts for a half star or so.

Rohan was always a studious boy, and even those who knew him well were afraid what would happen when his father died and he became Prince. His aunt Andrade in particular, the head of the Sunrunners (magically talented people who can manipulate the rays of the sun & moon to various effects), plans to manipulate him, and starts by introducing him to a young Sunrunner woman, Sioned, with whom he falls in love.

The story starts out with great promise--Rohan showing that his years spent in books were not wasted, as he schemes and plots to ensure peace and prosperity for his people, and the intensity of the feelings between himself and Sioned and the pitfalls of their path to being together. I loved the scheming and cleverness, and I loved that others had schemes that countered his.

But then it falters. There's a story line about the dragons that's really shortchanged, and either 3 or 6 years (it wasn't particularly clear which) were just skipped, during which several key characters died in a devastating plague, with only a brief mention. It's the GSM, indeed.

Then the story picks up again, with Rohan and Sioned's quest for a child, an excellent, twisted scheme-ful and emotionally intense section.

If Dragon Prince had been a trilogy... If all three sections had been fleshed out, especially that middle section, and the first book ended with Sioned & Rohan conquering the odds to be together, the second with the full story of the plague and the importance of the dragons, and the third with the child plot and the final battles... I'd probably have given each one 5 stars. Maybe 4 for the middle one, which is weakest, unless it was punched up a lot.

But as it was, the exciting stuff--the schemes, and the emotional intensity--got buried in repetition and wordiness, when they weren't completely skipped over.

I said impatience accounted for a half star. Disappointment that it wasn't all I imagined it could have been accounted for another half star. I don't think I'll be looking for the next book in the series.

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