Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dragon Killer (Rob May)

Dragon Killer
(The Dragon Killer series, Book 1)
Rob May
Rob May, publisher
Fiction, Fantasy
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: Kalina Moonheart is a woman of many talents: gambler, thief, spy, and - long ago - dragon slayer. In a world where the old gods lay dead and only the Dragon remains to terrorize the populace, that is no small feat, yet Kal is content to live in the shadows. Besides, she keeps plenty busy in the service of her secret patron, Senator Benedict Godsword. Her latest task takes her far from the sprawling city of Amaranthium to the swampy island of Baribu. Rumors of dragon attacks have trickled back to the mainland; as Godsword has a private gold mine nearby, he has a personal stake in the matter. When Kal arrives, however, she finds something far more dangerous and cunning than any scaled beast, a danger poised to challenge the whole of the republic itself.
An eBook-exclusive title.

REVIEW: This book has the potential to be an exciting action-adventure tale in a fantasy world, but undermines itself at several points. Character depth isn't a priority in these tales, with Kal and the others she meets tending to fall into familiar roles. She's a carefree soldier of fortune with a strong moral code (that doesn't preclude the odd petty theft or night on the town), her patron acts as a father figure, her green partner Rafe dreams of elder-day glories and knighthood, and so forth. Even her enemy has the requisite sob story that almost - but not quite - justifies his actions. These givens aside, there's a fair bit of action with a nice, if thin, fantasy veneer, and if some developments seem rather out-of-the-blue and the general course is predictable, well, it's still competent enough given the formula. May also seems a little too fond of the shocker chapter ending that isn't explained until the page is turned. What really undermines the story, though, is how it keeps cutting backwards (and, in one inexplicable incident, forwards) in time, spending far too long explaining the origins of Kal's monicker in a sequence that probably should've been its own short story. These flashbacks are drawn out through the entire story, running alongside the current tale of her investigation of Baribu. Each timeline effectively stalled out the momentum of the other, as I had to hold up at each jump to remember where I was and what was going on. As a freebie download, it wasn't bad, but I'm not interested enough in the world or the characters to continue with this series.

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