Dragons Away! by KD Berry

Review by Laura Hart

Drewdop, long-suffering Royal Astrologer and Court Illusionist to King Credos of the Central Realms, teams up with lonely, universally shunned, half-ogre, Urquhart, to defeat the wicked enemies of Credos’ Kingdom.

Tricked by megalomaniacal King Davkosh of the Southern Realms, hapless King Credos accepts a challenge race between Realm Champions; the prize, half of their respective Kingdoms. The species of mount selected to race the arduous course are entirely up to the challengers. Unbeknown to King Credos, Davkosh has a secret weapon; a young, though rather ill-tempered and tempestuous dragon named Fiery Flier.

Retivor, Royal messenger to King Davkosh, is forced by his tyrannical sovereign to risk his life at the irascible jaws of Fiery Flier and win the race for him. But Retivor, unlike previous unfortunate jockeys, forms a bond with the young dragon after promising that he will assist in finding others of her kind, once they have easily won the race for their despotic ruler.

Meanwhile, Drewdop and Urquhart are burdened with the task of spying on King Davkosh in order to discover his secret. Enlisting the help of Davkosh’ oppressed subjects; the Dwarven people, Drewdop and Urquhart seek out a viable opponent to meet the insuperable odds-on-favourite challenge, of Fiery Flier…

The concept of this tale is very appealing. From the outset, tongue-in-cheek narrative and amusing dialogue sets the tone and one immediately settles in knowing that smiles and chuckles will abound. The principal heroes, Drewdop and Urquhart, are well-suited flipsides of a coin; Drewdop being the brains behind the espionage and Urquhart the gentle brawn.

The mad King Davkosh and his similarly disposed Queen, Gunora, are caricatured as amoral dictators who reign with iron fists - and lashing bullwhips - oppressing their subjects to the point of terror on a daily basis.

In the opening chapters, the language and narrative is very well written for the most part, and I was thoroughly enjoying the banter, wordplay and eccentric lateral observations. But by chapter five there were so many secondary, peripheral and fleeting characters given a point of view - ‘voice’ - that I was floundering as to who the chief protagonists and villains actually were. Every section break within the chapters hailed the introduction of another minor viewpoint - some used to communicate essential plot details - and I was left wondering what, or if, they had some significance later on in the story. When they reappeared periodically, I had to track back to remind myself of their contribution. Eventually I gave up and dismissed them.

Given that this book is aimed at a young audience, the staccato handling of characters and plot will almost certainly lose the readers attention, which is a shame as I believe the story would delight youngsters and engage older generations.

The authors have worked hard at this story; the vocabulary, grammar, sentence construction, punctuation etc. is pretty much faultless, but they would benefit hugely from the advice and input of a professional editor. It is extremely hard to see the wood for the trees when editing ones own manuscript and the art of creative writing needs to adhere to a fairly standard set of rules. If the book were rewritten with only two principals - one in each camp, it would allow for a secondary voice to accompany both protagonist and villain, in order to flesh out the sub-plots. The story would then flow very nicely, allowing the reader to engage with protagonists and build sympathetic relationships with them.

This is a very good start and I think it has great potential, but it does need a lot more technical groundwork before it’s ready to delight youngsters.

4/10 It has great potential, but it does need a lot more technical groundwork.

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