Top critical review
If you like realism or complexity, not for you.
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.