Dragon Jousters Series – Book 2: Alta – By Mercedes Lackey

I had no intention to review this book when I started reading it. Sadly there are several points that I feel need addressing. So here we are with a review. Please expect at least mild spoilers as it’s hard to make specific arguments or realizations without giving away some details.

Alta-Mercedes-LackeyTitle: Alta
Series: Dragon Jousters; Book 2
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Adult
ROTS Setting: UU, Bronze Age, Dragons, Higher Magic
Synopsis: Kiron, the serf formerly known as Vetch, has made it through the desert with his young dragon, Avatre. As he returns to his homeland of Alta, Kiron shows the superiority of tamed dragons over their traditionally wild-caught cousins. Now it is up to him to hatch, train, and lead a Wing of tamed dragons and their riders before it’s too late.
Recommendation: Teen, although with mature themes probably better suited to late-teens or adults. This book isn’t as good as the first, but still passable.

 – – SPOILERS – –

I started reading this book still a little on the high after finishing Joust. And the beginning was good. It just felt right. It was clearly building of all the great aspects of its’ predecessor. However, it didn’t last. I’ll try not to give too many plot points but Kiron is injured shortly after making it to Alta City. It is sometime during his recovery and before he’s fully healed when the change begins.

You go from the writing style and quality of Joust to paragraphs and pages filled with the reader being told what it happening instead of showing what’s happening and the reader drawing their own conclusions. It’s the difference between experiencing the events and simply knowing them. If you’re shown a battle in UltraHD with surround sound then it’s easy to feel like you’ve experienced as much as you could without being there. Or you could simply be told the events of the battle in a text book and know what took place.

That’s what happened. One chapter you felt like you were there watching the events unfold and the next you’re just reading about them from a textbook. And if you already didn’t feel like you were being treated like an idiot, things were getting repeated. Or you were told and then shown the conversation (or part of it anyway). I especially enjoyed terms or names for things being used by different people exactly the same way.

Exactly the same way.

On top of that the storyline began to have more in common with a mediocre fanfiction than it did with the original book. And I’m completely serious about that. I honestly wonder if this was ghost written or pilfered from a fanfic site.

Let’s not forget the sudden introduction of the main antagonists for the rest of the series, the Magi. Yep, there are magic users and they are all-knowing, all-powerful (sort of), and the most evil beings in existence which everyone but Kiron is surprised to find out. They’re pretty lame when it comes to baddies and Kiron manages to find out nearly everything the bad guys are doing without ever doing anything. They are underdeveloped and as such, the rest of the storyline is too. The Magi remain faceless or when one does show his face Kiron witnesses their incompetence.

Significant events are glossed over or simply left out altogether. Kiron pretty much ceases to develop and is some ways regresses. He’s a bland, boring, dull, insignificant character and yet he’s the main character. He constantly has the answer to ever problem or question and can make connections that no one else can. He’s supposed to be the leader but never exhibits leadership qualities or lack of them either. The reader is forced to remain looking over his shoulder while interesting and plot critical moments are happening elsewhere. Or he just happens to be present to witness them and they’re usually aren’t that important in the end. Kiron experiences no conflict or obstacles anywhere in the whole book. Everything is handed to him so the boy that leaves the desert is a better, stronger character than the one standing at the end of this book.

The new secondary characters introduced are completely flat with a couple showing only minor depth. Anytime a character changed you were promptly told how and why it changed. So, of course, no opportunity to grown or develop the character.

I guess I’m going to have to read and review the rest of the series now. Really I’m just wondering how much I missed while I was young and naive. Thankfully the dragons are unique and interesting.

Robert

 


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Dragon Jousters Series – Book 2: Alta – By Mercedes Lackey

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