Be that as it may, I did not. So here we are with all the good stuff!
But first, a commercial: Make sure you visit her website, and also check out the first four books in the DragonKeeper Chronicles:
Back to DragonLight: The structure of my review is taken from James Scott Bell‘s book Revision and Self-Editing. In this book, he covers all the ingredients of a good book, and these I have found in DragonLight!
This is one of the strong points of the book. And that is tough to do because a writer could have easily said to themselves “I’ve already written about these people for four books—I don’t need to spend time building their characters”. But Donita did not do that.
I really felt that I knew and cared for the characters at the end, and that is the mark of great writing.
Plot & Structure
In a sense, I had a hard time with the plot because I’m more of an action-adventure kind of guy. BUT, I must acknowledge that I think the plot was designed to be light and fun on purpose. The characters were not in great danger at any time because the author wanted it that way. In all my reading about plot, this goes counter to the normal advice: “Make the characters suffer!” “Kick them while they’re down!” “It’s your job as an author to make everything go wrong!”
But you know what? I have read in ONE place the opposite advice. Where? Timothy Fish’s blog. There he talks about what he calls “Optimistic Plotting“, and that today’s fiction takes a depressing outlook.
That’s one thing I admire about DragonLight … it is NOT depressing. You walk away feeling uplifted. Despite the struggles, God is on the throne, and Donita knows this and wants us to feel this.
Point Of View
Only once in the entire book did I detect a POV slip—and I’ve got a razor eye for that now-a-days since Randy Ingermanson covered that in his blog (just kidding). The book is consistent, and I appreciated her alternately slipping into Bardon’s head.
Yesterday I thought that the (SPOLIER) final scene should have been from Toopka’s perspective. But really, since no other scene in the book was from her perspective, my idea really makes no sense. That would be far too late to jump into her head. So Donita did the best she could without rewriting the entire book.
The pace was fast because Donita kept the scenes short … most chapters are only seven pages, which really makes the book zip by. Each scene was interesting, and no extraneous material was covered that did not either (a) add to the plot, (b) characterize, or © add humor, color, and texture.
This was the best part. Being married, I can appreciate the banter between husband and wife and Kale and Bardon have a fun, respectful, humorous loving relationship. And not just that, but the subtleties were there such that the dialog felt real.
In my opinion, this is what held the book together and kept it going!
Beginning, Middle, & Ends
The book began with a strong fight scene, and that hooked me. The middle was filled with plot movement and fun dialog.
The end was fascinating because Donita did something I don’t remember seeing in a book in near-memory … she tied up all her loose ends BEFORE the climax. This was fascinating to watch. In some ways it made the climax less climactic, but in other ways, it made it the SOLE focus. And the book didn’t need to drag on afterwards for pages and pages to tie up all those flailing threads. Bravo!
Show vs. Tell
The book had a nice balance here, and Donita seems to know when to use what.
Voice & Style
Donita has a definite, developed voice and style, and I appreciated studying it to see how she did it, but alas, that is a difficult thing to grasp! Maybe after I read the whole series I’ll understand it better.
Setting & Description
A wonderful world. Reminded me of Jeffrey Overstreet’s world-building in Auralia’s Colors. Full of color and sizzle, with no hesitation or apology.
No problems here at all. Donita hides her exposition expertly so that you don’t even notice it. No info dumps here!
The themes were strong in this book. Giving birth to children, along with its burdens. Giving birth to truth, along with its responsibilities.
Two other themes are Pride (Gilda) and Fear (The Followers). And these two are connected. Donita K. Paul herself stopped by my blog and let me in on a secret … here’s what she says:
The fact that the leader of the cult turned out to be a meech was another slam against poor Gilda who thought her race could do nothing but good.
Very interesting, and something I had completely missed!
Here are the other tour members: