Sunday, October 25, 2009

Master of Dragons by Margaret Weis

The last book in the Dragonvarld trilogy, Master of Dragons is, like the others, a fairly fast read that probably could have been better if it were incorporated into a single book like its predecessors. Again, we had the fairly large font, the wider than expected margins, and again the feeling that the story was released in 3 books in order to increase the profit margin from the publishers (perhaps capitalizing on Weis' name amongst fantasy readers?).

I think the biggest word I can use to sum up this book is predictable. The major surprise at the end of the second book (The Dragon's Son) was undone in this book; Draconis survives the attack and continues to interact with the protagonists. While I have to say I genuinely like Draconis as a character (probably the best fleshed out of any of the characters), I think it would have been better had he stayed dead, with his cause perhaps being picked up by another dragon.

There were also elements in this book that really didn't go anywhere, and characters that were developed and not capitalized on. For example, we learn that another dragon (a female called Lysira) has a thing for Draconis. But nothing comes of this, besides some pithy words and descriptions of throbbing hearts. The end result is that Draconis comes off as being manipulative to his own kind, despite being characterized as being empathetic to the humans. Another character is Evelina, introduced in the previous book, who is built up as being a teen-age manipulator (she attempts to get pregnant by Marcus, one of the protagonists and the bastard son of royalty, with the idea it will "force" him to love her, and give her an easy life of plenty), in such a way I briefly thought I was back in high school, but the only real purpose she serves is to poison a dragon disguised as a human (over jealousy).

Despite the epicness of the concept (a world ruled by dragons, some of whom broke their own laws to manipulate humans into servitude), the ending was a bit less than epic. One of the core concepts of the books was that the development of human technology could herald a day when they are powerful enough to hunt down the dragons and kill them off. A major point was made that the development by King Edward of turntable mounted artillery could bring parity and possibly allow humans to slay dragons. Despite this, at the climatic conclusion, the cannons are never fired, humans never get a chance to slay dragons, and in fact it took the intervention of other dragons sympathetic to the human cause to intervene and chase off the antagonists.

One last gripe. The epilogue is about Evelina and her fate. Despite poisoning a disguised dragon, she is brought up on charges of murder (which is, in my opinion, correct, since intent is just as important as actions). She manages to avoid the death penalty (she did reveal the impostor dragon!) and is exiled to a remote nunnery. The final thoughts we have from the book is how she will manipulate herself into a position of power and influence within the nunnery.

My question is why end the book talking about the fate of what is really a minor and unimportant character that does little of value in the book? Why not instead discuss Draconis' relationship with his fellow dragons? Perhaps the reforging of the Dragon Parliament? Or even Marcus' burgeoning relationship with the Mistress of Dragons from Seth (which, having no real development didn't seem to be an important addition).

It almost feels like the ending of the book was rushed, and that Weis had intended more material in the series, but got edited.

Don't get me wrong now, the series was OK. But in the end, I think it started well but ended a bit flat.

No comments: