Thursday, 10 February 2011

Fantasy Forays: Dagger-star

Time for a review!

Bex's Parents gave her a book a while back, and it sat on the bookshelf for a few weeks until, in a fit of not having anything else to read, I decided to give it a go.

Dagger-Star, by Elizabeth Vaughan, is billed as a "paranormal romance" rather than a fantasy, and it's best to keep that in mind if you decide to take a walk in it's universe, because despite it's action-fantasy stylings, this book is primarily a love story between the mercenary Red Gloves and the somewhat downtrodden Lord of Athelbryght, Josiah. I'm doing the spellings from memory here, so if you happen to come across this review on Google please forgive me.

Okay, I'm going to start with a simple statement. I was dissapointed with this book. Not in the sense that its bad, but in the sense that it simply wasn't developed enough for my tastes. From the outset, we're told of how much of the consummate warrior Red Gloves is. And yet, throughout the whole of the book we're very rarely shown this The action scenes, although well written, are incredibly brief, and that seems to be because Vaughan seems to be far more keen on hitting the proverbial fast-forward button to the next Romance/sex scene. The ultimate battle of the story is almost criminally short - by my reckoning, it spanned approximately one-and-a-half pages of the thre-hundred and twenty three page paperback and, I have to say, was not well written. There are other action scenes in the book, that are actually told from Red's perspective, and it baffles me as to why Vaughan chose to write that scene from Josiah's perspective - considering he was sat on a hill overlooking the battlefield and was completely uninvolved. As I said, the other actions scenes in the book are very well written, but the problem with this that Vaughan is clearly playing to her romance-seeking audience.

And it's a bloody shame, because, aside from the odd overly-repeated phrase ("Claimed his/her mouth with a kiss" was clearly one of those line the author came up with and got into the habit of using) The book is incredibly well written. the dialogue flows naturally, and the characters all have distinct personalities. Josiah and Red themselves are possibly two of the best developed protagonists I've ever read, and its only a pity that more wasn't done with them. The mystery of why Red never takes her gloves off genuinely kept me intrigued right up until the big reveal, and was well plotted when it finally came.

In my personal opinion, the problem with this book isn't Quality, it's quantity. It felt far too often that the story simply didn't have room to breathe, with is a pity because there was so much more that could have been done. The only face-to-face antagonist, Elanore, is in the book for a depressingly short time before getting her arse handed to her and the side characters hardly get a look in on any of the real meat of the story. At the risk of posting spoilers - because I acutally, in any way give the tiniest shit - Gloriana, the girl who takes the throne of Palins at the end of the story could have been given a lot more page time, rather than the next vividly described sex scene between Josiah and Red (And trust me, that isn't spoilers, the pair are at it like rabbits from about a quarter of the way through the book.)

The best way I can think of to address the problems I have with this book is to say that it should probably have been about a hundred pages longer, and those pages should have been devoted to telling the story outside of the Red/Josiah sphere of interaction. But it is a fun and compelling read, especially if you're a sucker for love stories.