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on May 21, 2000
Melanie Rawn was an author whose books I had been meaning to get around to reading for years - I know now I didn't miss out on anything. If you like complex characterisation and worldbuilding, and realistic, flowing plots, this novel is not for you. I recognise that this was her first novel, but there are are plenty of first novels which are at least technically better than this. Typos and bad grammer abounded to say the least. The plot was disjointed - the break between Rohan and Sioned's wedding and the war was the most disconcerting and noticeable break in narrative but not the only one. What happened for those six years? This was a time period that an accomplished author would have been able to condense and gloss over, whilst still imparting a sense of the development of the characters and political situation during this time, but Rawn simply skipped a period of time which could have been fleshed out much more skillfully. I was initially drawn to Rohan and Sioned but very quickly became sick of them. At least Rohan had a little bit of a romp of excitement near the end, but the mental anguish he went through after/during this was so 2-d i couldn't really have cared less. If more development of his character beyond the cliched prince was made perhaps I would have cared. Similarly for most of the other characters e.g. I started to care about Camigwen but what happened to her? The initial involvement I had in Sioned and Rohan's relationship dissipated after the consummation of their match and the dinner at the rialla, which was such a letdown it left me uneager to plow through the rest of the book. Perhaps this novel would have been more interesting if the main characters had been Roelstra's daughters. I felt they had the potential to actually be 3-d, they had a dark side and they actually had motivations to do something about the situations they were in. If only they had been fleshed out and given a chance. I still wasn't sure at the end what side the second daughter was on anyway. The dragons were what initially attracted me to this story and I was dissapointed there too. It's fine to make the dragons completely non-mystical, I was quite entranced by this break with traditional fantasy. But the references in the story to them were completely irrelevent; their saviour role was completely accidental and felt like a deux-et-machina so that the author could have a reason to call her cardboard prince a dragon-prince. The encounter with the hatchling gave me hope for a complicated parallel between the animals and the humans (if anyone has ever read a book called 'Firelight the Red Stallion', Hawkeye's meeting with Firelight as a foal was a comparable opportunity) but this was not to be realised. Nor were the fascinating potentials or ideas of Sunrunner magic or the conflict between a ruler's powers and a Sunrunner's power ever satisfactorily dealt with. There are tonnes of fantasy that deals with magic and politics and war and love better than this series; for dragons, I would recommend Robin Hobb's FARSEER and LIVESHIP trilogies, Jane Yolen's classic DRAGON'S BLOOD trilogy, and of course the PERN books by Anne Macaffrey.
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on December 9, 1998
This series, and anything else Ms. Rawn has written, do nothing but confirm my conviction that most fantasy literature written by women is utter trash. Now hold on, before some of you raise the ugly specter of "sexism", I want you to know that I have absolutely nothing against women. Nothing at all. It's just that many female fantasy writers have this strange attatchment to this "goddess" notion. I can't call to mind even one famous female fantasy writer who hasn't included pseudo-"wicca" or some other from of goddess-worship in their work. Cases in point: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Diana Paxson, Melanie Rawn.... The list goes on and on. I don't know. Maybe it satisfies some deep-down need of these women to insult men by throwing this feminist fantasy in our faces at every turn. Rawn in particular seems to hold a grudge against "patriarchy". Exiles is ample proof of that. So is her short story: Salve, Regina (that story is just pure, evil vindictiveness). I mean, come on! That male/female role-reversal idea has been done to death! Why not break new literary ground with an original idea? I'll tell you why. She has an agenda.
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on June 6, 2004
I bought this on recommendation of my cousin. We're not speaking anymore.
Seriously though, Rawn is an excellent writer. She has wonderful descriptions, her characters are real, and the relationships are filled with a genuine give and take of emotions.
However.
I have several problems with the book.
First was the romance. I have nothing against romance in my fantasy. More often than not it adds a needed poignancy to an epic. I just didn't plan on reading a novel that was more romance than anything else. The fantasy aspect of the book, just seems more like background, and scenery. I much prefer a book that uses that fantasy to take a unique look into human nature. This was more of a straight up romance novel during medieval times with some dragons and magic in it.
Second was the nigh-glacial pacing. Oh brother. I felt like I was reading in slow motion. Let me give you a quick summary here. The book begins with the ruler of the land taking a mortal wound and slowly dying. His son is about to ascend to the throne, and although he is a proven fighter, most question his ability to rule since he's a bookish type. He also must soon marry, but if he marrys one of his liege lord's daughters he won't survive much past the birth of his first male child. So his aunt, the leader of the books mage clan (sunrunners), arranges for him to marry one of her young apprentices. The two meet and instantly fall in love. Yet because the wily hero has machinations of his own in mind they can't show it in public. He intends to fool everyone and get something out of it from his liege lord at the 3 year fair who he's supposed to be picking a bride from as well. Eventually they get out of the castle and head off to the fair.
That my friends is the first 180 pages.
180 pages! Sheesh!
Lastly is the narrative vs. dialogue mix which is overly heavy on the narrative side by about 8 to 1. Melanie seems to want to tell us more often than show us.
Therefore I cannot recommend this book by an excellent writer. Unless you like a heavy (and I mean heavy) dose of romance in your reading.
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on February 13, 2000
Melanie Rawn, I can't but help give props to you on your Dragon Prince and Star Scroll Series. They are some of the most awesome books that I have had the opportunity to read. The only thing I have to say in the negative is the quality of editors that Ms Rawn has to look over her books. There are many times throughout the book Chaynal is called by a nick name of Chay, but 1 in about every 10 time he is called Clay. A definite typo that tend to be irritating. Also the wording in many areas are not up to par and make you have to sit and think what they were actually trying to say. One specific time is at the Rialla right after Meath felled the Merida assassin Rohan says to Meath "I wasn't aware that Lady Andrade allowed he Sunrunner to walk around the holes in there clothing." So unless the Sunrunners have some tradition of walking around holes in there clothing, I believe this sentence is supposed to be "Walk around WITH holes in there clothing." Small mistakes like this make the book frustrating enough to want to write a review as negative as this. I am sorry, the book is completely awesome, I could read it 1000 times, I only hope that the grammar and typos are not frequent in your other books. Frequent Reader, Isaac
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on August 31, 1998
Like many others, I was attracted to this book by MIchael Whelan's beautifully drawn covers. Having heard some good things about Melanie Rawn from friends, I decided to give the books a try. Starting with the bad things I found in the book, here is my opinion:
I was immensely disappointed to discover that the book's characters were poorly written, with no personalities to speak of. I would call them one-dimensional if it were not far higher praise than they deserve. in drawing her characters, Ms. Rawn seems to have mistaken inconsistancy for depth. The characters were, almost without exception, even flatter than the paper on which their tiresome adventures were described. Rohan was not only uninspiring but offputting as the goody-goody hero. (He's even a conservationist!) When he finally does do something that is not stereotypically good and selfless, it is so forced and out of line with what the reader had previously been shown of his personality (such as it is) that it only detracts. Rawn obviously tries to make Rohan's character complex; she succeeds only in making it mostly random. The other characters are even more shallow. Rawn hardly even bothers to give the people on Rohan's side distinguishing details to help the reader tell them apart. And such detail (or a program) is sorely needed. They are all cast of the same mold as Rohan: clean-cut, honest, self-sacrificing, brave, and good friends with one another. Any nation with such a uniformly excellent class of leaders would have almost no cause to fear anything. Alas, such leaders do not exist. Have you EVER heard of a nation led by by a perfect man, uniformly good in all respects? (The actions that, to him, prove his "barbarity" are so random and uncharacteristic that they cannot be included in any intelligent discussion of Rohan's personality.) I have not. The book, quite frankly, was BORING. The good guys were all noble and virtuous. The bad guys were all lazy, selfish, or greedy. The plot was more like a parking lot than a roller coaster. At no time (no, not even once) was I surprised by the direction that the plot took. Rohan defeated his enemies so easily, with so little failing to go according to his decidedly uninspired plan that there might as well have been no resistance whatsoever. Rohan's enemies are so easily fooled by even the most childish schemes that I was amazed that anyone could genuinely fear them. The bad guys make mistakes by the cartful, while the good guys, with (of course) no margin for error, pull everything off perfectly every single time. I could continue with a detailed critique of almost every single character, decrying them all as flat and stereotypical, but I have taken up as much space with my criticism as I care to.
Now to get to the good things that I found. I liked the idea of the Sunrunners, though it was so poorly realized that, although entirely original, it seemed as stereotypical as the rest of the book. Oh, and I liked the dragons too.
Anyone who wishes to e-mail me an opinion of my opinion is perfectly welcome.
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on June 4, 2000
I guess I should keep this short. I don't have time to write the in depth review the book deserves. From the first page I was captivated, entranced, enchanted. By the time I'd finished the first two chapters I'd gotten a good look at the main characters, their traits and quirks and individual personalities - and with every page I read, the people and their interactions grew more complex and interesting. The thing I loved best about this novel was the people - they were real. They lived and breathed and brought the story to life. The romance between Rohan and Sioned was both poignant and amusing in the beginning, but as the story went on it acquired depth, as they suffered and were made stronger by the pain, by staying together. The extensive cast of supporting characters was engaging and ominous by turns, and the narrative throughout most of the story flowed easily. But apart from all that, perhaps the most important thing about the novel is that the people changed. They were three-dimensional, alive - there are certain stretches of narrative where I still have to pause, because I'll realize that my breathing has stopped and I'm suffering with the characters in the book. The author takes you so deep into the characters' minds that you will live the story with them, feel their pain and burn with their passions - an incredible experience. When I finally reached the end, I found myself gripping the book, willing it to become just a litle longer ...
Well, that was longer than I thought it would be. I encourage anyone who has any interest in people to read the book, because that was what it was about - people. Thanx for reading this, and enjoy the book!
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on March 29, 2003
This is a book that i had sitting on my shelf for years before i even bothered to read it. I don't know what i waited for!
Yes, it's a very long book, but it reads quickly. The characters are realistic: they think, they act in their own (or their family's) interest, they change sides/opinions, they sometimes use their emotions to make decisions for them...and so on. THe plot was engrossing enough, with enough aspects of the fantasy, action and romance genres mixed in to keep a reader's interest piqued.
Read this if you: like epic fantasy with multi-faceted characters, have an appreciation for creative concepts within books, have a lot of time to read (it's a long book, but good), have patience to figure out good vs. bad guys.
Don't read if you: Need fairly straightforward characters, get frustrated with too many characters appearing and disappearing, have difficultly with long books and meandering (though not boring) storylines.
Great example of what the fantasy genre CAN produce.
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on January 12, 2000
I did read the whole first series, which must mean that it had something good about it. But I found that the author had a tendency to keep trying to hook up all her favorite boy characters with all her favorite girl characters, like a little girl playing with dolls.

As for the racism, there is a race of people in the book called, I think, the Merida. They live in the desert and have a rival claim to the same land as Rowan (the main character). It seemed that they were supposed to be analogous to the early Arabs in our world. We hear throughout the whole first series (I didn't read the second so I don't know if anything comes of it) how the whole race is evil, and how Rowan is bent on their genocide. We never see a member of this race except as an assassin, and never hear their side of the story. That strikes me as a rather juvenile way to handle politics.

The characterization of minor characters was a little sketchy, making them all seem to have the same personality at times. The bad guy is another one of those cardboard cutout villains, unsympathetic and cartoonishly evil. His daughters are evil, of course, because they inherited the evilness gene, or something like that.

Not a real deep story or meaning, but it was enjoyable enough light fantasy reading.
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on March 25, 2001
First-off, I have read these 2 series about 5 times (along with MANY other books, many of them re-reads as well, not all fantasy either), so I do know what I'm talking about when it comes to Melanie Rawn's books.
In my opinion, this book/series not only rivals Tolkien's, it surpases it.
To those that say that the characters are 1 dimensional thus having no "gray shading" to them...Rohan is by no means perfect (ie his "encounter" with Ianthe) and neither are any of the rest. Pandsala later proves she is neither purely evil nor is she good (her fallout with Rohan in the second series).
To those that say that this book is juvenile, did you even read it? Half of the things in there could not even be understood by most under that age of 16. I read earlier that someone said something about the love story not being appropriate, and that the characters were over-developed. My personal opinion in this matter is that the book is not the typical fantasy book, it is a masterpiece by comparison. It actually has a plot. No other fantasy series I have ever read (with the possible exception of Orson Scott Card's Ender series or Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series) have been as captivating. These book with quite simply keep you up at night once you start reading them. Whenever I read them, I forget to watch the clock and end up staying up 'til 4 in the morning quite frequently because I'm so engrossed.
For those of you who are considering reading some of Melanie Rawn's books, I say go for it, they are great. I personally think that the world could learn a lot about subtly if they read these books. I give them a high commendation!
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on January 11, 2001
This book is, no doubt, great. The magical ideas are fresh and original, not reverting to old, cliche' ideas. The characters are real people... Of course, they are mostly handsome aristocrats, however, that's what the story is about, that is who rules. There are no stereotypes here, the hero and heroine succumb to almost tragic character flaws, the villains are not wholly bent on evil and are respected in their own right. The only flaws I can think is the reliance on predestination. The sunrunners (basically magicians)are born with it, no choices, all of the love interests are inevitable, they're fated to be with one another-yawn. And throughout, especially at the begginning, the the book has a large emphasis on sexuality. Not to say it doesn't exist in large parts, it's just too much. The princes with their petty claims, and seeking of pairings for marriage alliances is real, and believable. The beautiful writing style that pervades this book is a delight, and you will find yourself addicted to the book, unable to put the book down for fear the magic will end. In truth, Dragon Prince is unable to completely seperate itself from the stereotypical fantasy genere, but it does in enough ways to make it a fresh, enjoyable, and addicting read
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