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Fire Dragon Paperback – May 29, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"The strengths of FIRE DRAGON are the sheer originality of the idea - the formation and development of a fire service in a frighteningly vulnerable city - and the author's creative decision to stage the project in a fantasy Asian setting"-GLBT Bookshelf
"M. Kei may be the best fantasy/adventure novelist you've never heard of"--Shelly's LGBT Book Review Blog
About the Author
M. Kei, sailor, poet, and author, divides his time between sailing historical vessels and writing poetry and fiction.
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Top customer reviews
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It is not only a fine imaginative story full of adventure and beauty and passion. It's a story which moves me.
A story which makes me think, and wonder. It has everything I want in a good story, plus all kinds of new ways of looking at the opposing forces of life, the dark and the light. The story has all kinds of unexpected twists and turns which surprised me and kept me reading.
This book is pure magic. It made me smile and laugh and it made me cry.
Books don't get much better than this. It ought to be at the top of the best-seller list. If it isn't. it says more about those of us who buy books than it does about the author. M.Kei hasn't put a foot wrong with this story. It works.
A beautifully written book, as you might expect from a fine poet - but also a book which stays with you, whose characters you come to admire, whose lives become real. A book to read more than once. A book to buy for friends. A book to keep.
Characters are real and behave like real people. They make mistakes, they feel inadequate, undeserving (and for real reasons, not something imaginary), and yet they persevere.
Book made me feel nice and cosy, and hopeful for human race (not easy there days) ;-)
I will certainly be looking at other works from the same author!
There are only two notes/remarks from me :
The dragon on the front page looks quite sad, the poor thing, and it really should not! He gets his happy end!
The way Shuibai speaks to the Black Prince near the end of the book is simply too disrespectful, and not in character.
By 50% I wasn't even sure I was going to *finish* it. It had started to drag. Badly. I was just plain bored. The detailed descriptions of every piece of clothing and painstaking deliberations over details of firefighting overwhelmed the characters and the setting, and the devotion to what things looked like took precedence over emotional evocation.
I did finish it, and while I didn't end up adoring it, I did end it with respect for the author's capability, and also renewed respect for the role of developmental editing in the publication process. A great editor would have made this into a masterpiece.
So this is, at it's core, a story about a peasant who starts a volunteer fire brigade. He is not a volunteer himself but finds a passion for his purpose and is dedicated. It starts right off the bat reading like Last Airbender fanfic- even before the Avatars hit the scene. Just the settings and the pseudo-East Asian culture are very Airbender-esque.
The society is a bit of a jumble of feudalism and matriarchy. I was a little confused by the fact that while it's a local matriarchy, the central government was entirely male. I'm not sure whether the author explained this to himself but not to us, or just didn't really consider it, but that was weird.
There were other social contradictions. The locations read like villages, but were described as huge cities. Although they were supposed to be huge cities the characters, for the most part, seemed isolated.
One pet peeve in fantasy is linguistics. When dealing with fantasy locations, coming up with names of places is a challenge. This author used a combination of Chinese and Japanese mythology and naming. UNfortunately, the two languages are linguistically dissimilar. It's hard to even write words from one language in the alphabet of the other. So having characters with Chinese names and Japanese names who are supposed to be natives of the same country will strike people with some small familiarity with both as odd.
And lastly, the main character is written, purposefully, as not a really bright guy. It didn't play out perfectly at all times, with some pretty significant contradictions there too. The romance came late and was a bit lackluster also.
Overall, though, I think it's worth reading, and I'll definitely watch for more from this author (I liked the previous work as well).