Patrick tears apart the fabric of classic portal fantasy and builds a dimension of limitless possibilities all his own.
When someone is infected with the travel bug, it seeps into their pores at an early age and lasts throughout their lifetime. Speaking from experience, I have always craved adventure; there is nothing quite like the thrill of traveling with no set itinerary and seeing where the wind takes you. I believe it was the Dalai Lama, or perhaps Brandon Sanderson, who said “journey before destination.” It matters less where you go than how you get there.
I haven’t read much portal fantasy, but I’m familiar with the well-known ones: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and more recently, Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series and Alix Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January. A common thread in most of these stories is getting where you need to go, be it back home or to a faraway land. But little attention is given to the nature of the wardrobe, or the rabbit hole, or the twister, Auntie Em. In The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon, Patrick subverts this time-honored trope by tearing apart the fabric of classic portal fantasy while building a dimension of limitless possibilities all his own.
The Darkstar Dimension is where we meet the young and bright First Officer Min, the de facto leader (but not captain) of her skyship, The Melodious Narhwal. Min, her ship, and her crew have just been mysteriously pulled into this purple-hued, extremely weird, and nonsensical land where the scenery and physics don’t make a lick of sense. This place is the Darkstar Dimension, a conduit of ever-moving, trans-dimensional rifts that serves as a node for travelers to journey into uncharted worlds. The Darkstar Dimension has its own unique set of rules and properties yet is also populated with various land masses, seas, animals, and perhaps a few full-time residents. Oh yes, there’s also an enormous, purple star in the center of its universe, with a massive, country-sized dragon that uses the star as a sleeping bag.
Min and the rest of the supporting cast serve up some wonderful conflicts as the story progresses. Patrick shows off his experience as a Dungeon Master by creating detailed lore, unique characters, fleshed-out (and often heartbreaking) backstories, and extraordinary magical items. But the real star of the story is the Dimension itself, a true testament to world-building in every sense of the phrase. This universe is a giant, magical sandbox that will whet any adventurer’s appetite for the dangerous, weird, and wonderful.
Although it may be home to a New Zealand-sized dragon with teeth the size of skyscrapers, the Darkstar Dimension is still at the top of my list of worlds that I would move to immediately and forever. To have the opportunity to discover new wonders, new worlds, and new dangers at any moment is an adventure too enticing to pass up. And with Patrick’s vivid imagination and natural gift for storytelling, this is a world that I hope we’ll get to revisit for many years to come.
Review by Adam Weller
9/10 from 1 reviews
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