|Here Be DragonsT.A. Chase
Get it here!
When I first saw this book, the beautiful cover in addition to the promise of dragons made me think “Oooh, shiny,” and I jumped to buy it. The cover art is undeniably gorgeous. And there are definitely dragons, it’s not just a cruel trick on the author’s part by including them in the title but not delivering them in the story.
Have you ever seen the face of a man who, when you consider his features separately, would seem to have nothing attractive about him, but then you take the whole of his face and add in his personal charm of character, and you realize that he’s one of the most handsome men you’ve ever met? That’s how I reacted to this book.
There would seem to be no redeeming qualities in this story, if I focused on the details. For instance, I hate elves with a rather bloody-minded passion, and not only is one of the nasty creatures featured prominently in this book, but there are more in the background. I like consistency in characters, and the main character, Kael, wavered between full-blown panic attacks to jumping on a horse and charging a dragon armed with nothing but a stick. To make matters worse, the love-interest, Hugh, went from cold, aloof boss-type figure to caring, concerned lover with almost no reason for doing so. The attitudes of the scientists in the book were wholly alien considering any scientist’s attitude that I have any real-life experience with, especially in combination with the military, and that was annoying. The point of view shifted constantly between the characters, I personally don’t like foursomes, and I hated the cat almost as much as I hated the elf. Absolutely everything was ridiculously unbelievable.
But I just didn’t care.
So what made me like it so much? I can’t really explain it even to myself, since there’s nothing I can point my finger at and say “This is why,” so I have to chalk it up to pure charm. I think what allowed me to enjoy this book must have been the very thing that prevented LdDurham from enjoying it: the author’s writing style. I responded well to Chase’s “voice” as an author, which allowed me to kick back, suspend my disbelief to the point of throwing it out the window, and throw myself whole-heartedly into the sheer improbability of it all. Inadequate explanation for the one-eighty in Hugh’s attitude to Kael? Not a problem. Kael’s own inconsistencies? That’s ok, I like needy-but-brave bottoms. Dragonslayers on motorcycles? I loved them. Elves?
… alright, I still had a problem with the elf.
The point is, Here Be Dragons was sound in theory, was completely over-the-top in execution, and yet was absolutely fun to read. I’m rubbing my hands with glee over the implied promise of a sequel (it has to have a sequel, it would be criminal not to have a sequel). I would very much recommend this story to others – with the caveat that if you’re expecting to be able to take anything in this story seriously, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
My part of the review, unfortunately, isn’t very informative as far as the entire book is concerned. I have to admit defeat on this one and confess that I was unable to finish Here Be Dragons. I feel quite unprofessional, but there was just nothing else I could do. I spent a week and a half attempting to read this book and was unable to get past page 73. And as many of you have noticed, CW and I are pretty fast with our reviews. But Here Be Dragons got me.
When I first saw this book, I had expected to love it. It seemed right up my alley. But when I read the excerpt, the writing style rubbed me the wrong way. Regardless, a month later I still got the book at CarvedWood’s urging and started to read.
Nearly immediately the writing style began to irritate me. For me, I enjoy being led down the path in a story. I like the surprise of revelation, the smile at an evasion blocked, or the shock when someone steps out of the room that I didn’t know was there. Here Be Dragons didn’t allow me those moments because it tipped its hand several times, thereby nullifying any emotional response to the news or revelation, and taking the wind out of the sails of the story. For instance, when a man thinks to himself, “Oh no, I hope I’m alone in here and that no one is behind me,” it completely steals the gasp away from the next moment when, lo and behold, the man was not alone. Here Be Dragons did that too often for me. It’s like sitting next to a friend who’s already watched the movie and whispers, “Watch this next part,” whenever something is about to happen.
The story was also highly unbelievable. I know, I know. It’s a story about dragons, for crying out loud. But, unfortunately, this book did not suspend my sense of disbelief. In fact, it reinforced it several times. I can believe dragons are coming back to earth. I can believe that an elf visits a man in his dreams. I can’t believe that a man of science doesn’t know that there are such things as Polyurethane condoms. Kael has a latex allergy and supposedly relies completely on STD testing to keep him safe. He also doesn’t wear any sort of gloves when doing examinations. A man with a Latex allergy would have known that there was an alternative choice. As soon as the allergy was brought up, I thought, “Hey, wait. Then what does a man do in that situation? Latex is a fairly common allergy.” I was able to Google the answer in about 60 seconds. The idea that testing gives people the free-reign to have unprotected sex is also a little far-fetched. Testing does not mean a person is safe. It means they were safe about six weeks prior to the testing. After that, you’d still have to rely on trust. Therefore, Polyurethane condoms would be needed.
In a particular scene, the author asks us to believe that as his huge ship is being attacked, the Captain and his crew will stand by and watch it happen. We are to believe that a couple of scientists know best and that the Captain and crew just waited for them to show up and call for help themselves.
Things like these will immediately make me question the story. If situations and personal details like a latex allergy yank me out of the tale and go, “Huh?” then I have a very hard time swallowing everything else the author wants me to. Therefore my ability to jump right in and enjoy the book is gone.
Kael was a bottom that I sorely wanted to kick. Hard. This is a personal preference, but I enjoy my characters with a bit of fight to them. Sure, they can be beaten and downtrodden, broken and abused. In the case of Reece from Mykles’ “Heaven Sent: Purgatory”, he was hurt and scarred. He even gave up, but he did it with class and determination. Kael was not only weak, but also a whiner. He was the Eeyore character without the wit, who continually had to mention how much everyone doesn’t like him, how unloved he was, how unlovable he was, how much of a geek he was (Hello! Scientist!). It got old really quickly. I wanted a dragon to eat Kael as fast as possible.
Because I couldn’t finish the book, please do not take my word on it. I have no idea if things got better or not. All I do know is that I felt Chase attempted to shove every fantastical element she could into this story. I think it could have been pulled off, but for me, Chase couldn’t do it.