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The Dragon Star (Realms of Shadow and Grace − Volume One: Episodes 1-7) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 792 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The Dragon Star is epic. Think Game of Thrones (without the dragons) epic. The world building in it is incredibly detailed. Going back to my sci-fi roots, it reminds me of the world Herbert created for the Dune series, and, more contemporarily, the one that Hamilton created for the Void in The Void Trilogy.
The plot outline description above should give you an idea of the scope of the book. What I find incredible, though, is the attention to detail that is demonstrated. There’s an entirely new world created, with new races of beings and a whole new pantheon of gods that interact (or do they?) with the world. The stories in each of the seven arenas all offer a different view of the people of the world of Onaia, and as the plot develops, the stories start to converge. While it is possible to stick with just one arena (through hyperlinks in the Kindle version), I would recommend that you read the book as written – moving from one arena to another. Sure, you’ll miss some of your favorite characters as you read the other arenas, but the actions that occur in those other arenas inevitably affect what’s going on in the others. And frankly, my “favorite” storylines would subside and be replaced by another one. The inclusion of the maps, the cast of characters, and all of the additional material at the end really help flesh out the world. Again: epic!
I think, though, what makes The Dragon Star stand out is the writing. It’s lush without being pretentious. Breedon knows how to tell a story: when to linger on a scene, and when to move on. The story is interesting and moves along at a good clip – which is a must in an epic of this size with as many disparate storylines running through it.
But I want more!! How many more “Episodes” are there? I’m guessing another novel with about 7 more episodes. The good thing about this is that it doesn’t feel like you’ve gotten halfway through a book and then are left hanging. (though there is a revelation at the end that really makes you want the rest of it now!). An earlier reviewer said that they thought that The Dragon Star would be a good movie, but I don’t think a movie would do it justice. I see this as a nice, long mini-series.
Actually, I *do* see the world of Onaia and its people when I read it. And that’s what a good book should do. I highly recommend this for anyone wanting to discover a new world.
First the story; almost 800 pages of it. (Though to be fair, there's a lot of detailed background stuff at the back and you don't have to read all that.) It's worth it. I just pretended I was reading three books in a row and was perfectly happy.
This book is well written and well edited. It really has to be, to hold all the detail of what's going on in the story. And it's an interesting story. This is a sweeping fantasy, intricately plotted, with varied and detailed characters ranging all across the large world the author has conceived. The basic premise is that about 10% of the world's population suddenly starts to have the same dream of a new religion forming around a new goddess. Then, as shown in the dreams, a new, red star suddenly shines in the night sky for all to see.
Unsurprisingly, these strange events set off a variety of different storylines across the world. Some ignore the dreams, many pretend they aren't having them, some embrace this new religion, and some hunt down the dreamers as heretics. And away we go, following seven main storylines and a dozen or so characters as they weave around the world, occasionally crossing paths but often having very little to do with each other.
Here's the part where this book becomes unique. You can read the book, like any other book, front to back. That's how I started. But I've got to tell you, it annoys me when each chapter moves on to another storyline. At the end of each chapter I'm forced to give up on the people whose story I just got interested in and switch my brain, reminding myself again who this new set of characters are and what they are doing. Then I get going with the new storyline and... Argh! The chapter ends and I've got to take up a whole new cast and plot!
The solution to this? Digital media to the rescue! The author has taken what I believe is an important leap forward, using the digital book to his advantage. If you reach the end of a chapter and don't want to switch to a new storyline, guess what? You don't have to switch! Just follow the link at the end of the chapter and the book zips you to the next installment of that same storyline. Or, to get even more specific, there are also links at the end of a chapter to follow a specific character if you get really into one person.
Practically speaking, this technique has its pluses and minuses. I did follow some of the individual storylines and I enjoyed not having to leave the people I was interested in. I liked that. There were a few hitches, though. For example, in one storyline I followed, I moved on to the next occurrence of the storyline and was dismayed to learn that somebody had been assassinated, and I hadn't read that bit; turns out their assassination was told from the perspective of a character in a different storyline. That was kind of disconcerting, but overall, I liked the technique. Usually the storylines stayed separate enough that following one to the end didn't ruin the surprises in another storyline.
Finally, a few technical things. The editing in the book was superb, with grammar errors being very rare. Also, the author used links throughout the book to give the reader background on concepts and history of the world he was building to very good effect. Many times I saw something mentioned in the story, followed a link to read a few pages about what that thing was, and then was conveniently zipped back to where I came from, ready to continue the story and feeling that I knew what was being talked about. That was much appreciated. (And it must have been a huge amount of work - there are links to all sorts of things, taking me all over the place, and I imaging it must have taken forever to get everything working.)
So to sum up: This long, well-written and very complex book is worth the time, not just for the story, but to experience the new things the author is doing with the digital book format. Honestly it's four stars for the story, and one extra star for advancing the art form.