This book review is in conjunction with The Book Trove book club’s monthly review. We are endevouring to explore and bring light to indie and self-published authors through reviewing their books on multiple platforms. We were not paid or provided free copies of this book by any external party. Opinions within are my own. My affiliate link is provided below in conjunction with my kindle link above this disclosure paragraph.
Benedict Patrick is from a small town in Northern Ireland called Banbridge, but has been living and working in Scotland since he moved there at the age of eighteen. Tragically, that was quite a while ago.
He has been writing for most of his life, and has been reading for pretty much all of it (with help from mum and dad at the beginning). Benedict’s life changed when a substitute primary school teacher read his class part of The Hobbit and later loaned him the book – he fell in love with the fantasy genre and never looked back.– Benedict Patrick Amazon Author Profile
Head’s up if you’re new to how I do reviews. I’m a cranky critic. So, take my reviews with a heavy grain of salt.
Today we are looking at Mr. Patrick’s The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon. A rather lofty title with fantastic cover art. I really do admire it. I’m usually willing to listen if someone starts talking dragons in regards to fantasy books. At least give it a chance.
And a chance I gave it. And kept giving it. And really should have stopped giving it. But this was for a review, so, I really did need to finish it.
I admit. I am self published. I have edited the snarf out of my works and should still hire an editor to go back and fix grammar and spelling mistakes that I am finding in my documents though I swear I fixed those. I have an issue with “crutch” words. There are multiple lists floating around on the internet of words to remove from a manuscript in an effort to tighten a script.
Just, only, could, really, very, totally, clearly, really, felt, heard, started, began, etc.
Because I spent the better part of a year going hard at editing out crutch words and tightening my sentences for five books, running into crutch words is jarring. Once or twice every few pages is not distracting. Having them repeat over and over again in the same paragraph? Mmm, nope. Big nope from the style police over here. The narrative style in this reminded me of my time in Introduction to Asian Art History class where the professor was a researcher and not an educator by nature. I spent one entire class tally marking how many times she said um, uh, yeah, so, well. I filled it. An entire college ruled page, in one lecture on repetitive words alone. She really needed to not have been forced to provide a class if public speaking made her that anxious.
I backed away from pulling out a sheet of paper and tallying the crutch words. It occurred to me though. I wanted to. I wanted to take a picture of it. Make a graph of how many of those words could have been nixed from the script and the tone would have flowed.
Hello. Pot. Kettle. (I’m bad at grammar, some people are bad at crutch words, I shouldn’t talk.)
Exiting from this thrilling adventure in recalling mind numbing classes and editor’s hell, let’s turn to the world and characters of the story.
The world is modestly constructed around a familiar framework that most individuals exposed to the concept of steampunk, Treasure Planet, or alt-universe zeplin d&d role playing games will recognize. Standard. Rendered with enough description to get to the point without deviating into floral language for the sake of manuscript padding.
The characters though? Another paused humming coming from me. I see where the author is going with the main character, the crew, the set up for the primary story figures. It rolls like an early Netflix series, and might be decent at it. I do believe the author means well for who he cast as his characters, wanting to be representative in diversity, provide women with a strong role in society. It bypasses the Firefly curse of blatant aesthetics-only appropriation by incorporating a fleshed out diverse cast.
It makes me wary though. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why the presentation makes me uncomfortable. Min, Sung, Zoya, Abalendu, etc. These characters are approached almost in a stereotype that boarders on appropriation for an aesthetic rather than a meaningful application to the script. What I’m saying is, the intent is not racist, but some of the ascribed characteristics of the individual characters can be construed as such by those still on high awareness after the major Black Lives Matter protests that took place over summer 2020 and the extreme prejudice running amok in America against Asia and Asian American individuals because of 45’s use of the phrase “China virus” in reference to covid.
I would like to claim that I am being overly sensitive. Many readers appreciated the script from what I saw with reviews. I do not wish to say the author should have not written a woman, or a woman of apparent ‘fantasy-Asian’ decent.
I am trans and write my MCs as male. Lunam from The Fire in My Blood is of mixed decent of Russian/Latino/Native American decent, Sam and Abby are both of mixed black and white decent, and Cortex is of Indian decent. Corbin in Subgalaxia is African American. Benj and Sun Hee from Polaris Skies are Korean American/white and Zola is African American/white. Then there’s Ishan and his whole family who are “new” Punjabi in Subject15. Marduk is Persian, Amina and Tau are Xhosa in Fyskar.
I mean, I’ve never even been to England or any of the places in my books outside of the deserts and Dallas in Polaris Skies. What right do I have to criticize the presentation methodology of the crew and MC’s backgrounds?I’ve done what Mr. Patrick has done in incorporating a diverse cast. I most likely have major stereotypes that would have benefited from a sensitivity reader’s input. I can guarantee that.
I cannot find a specific pinpoint of why the presentation made me itchy in this books, but it did. That might be my one warning to people going into the book who may not be a generic fantasy-obsessed white person. The presentation might grate. As I mentioned before, I want to say the design was not done with ill intent, but it comes off a bit uninformed.
Grammatical structure and character stereotypes aside, what about tropes, cliches, relationships, dialogue?
The author’s imagination sticks to a prior established genre standard structure. His soul is taking us on a tabletop game adventure. There’s anxiety, curiosity, and mystery wrapped in to frame why the reader should be interested in the story.
A lot of the quip, banter, and conversation utilized within the script are throw away lines that have been repeated frequently within both movie and book scripts that are not inventive. Angry generic come backs.
That’s what I’ve got for you. Something I would expect to see on any bookstore shelf. Mainstream. It is static enough to have most likely made it into the traditional publishing community. I say that, because revolutionary writing, cross-genre, and genre bending usually scares off agents and publishing houses.
If you’re needing a quick read that gives you the d&d airship aesthetic with dragons, predictable plot element, and easily recognizable characters, this would probably fit the bill.
I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.