Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Review: Last Dragon by J.M. McDermott

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

I've been reading epic fantasy for quite some time now and honestly, it can get quite formulaic. Last Dragon however is this very original and creative novel that I haven't read since Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series. What is evident in the beginning is that McDermott's text is sparse. There are lot of "mini-chapters" that are one or two pages long at the most that helps one digest the novel. Despite that fact, the prose can get quite lyrical and there are vivid descriptions of characters and scenery. McDermott also uses a writing style seldom used in the fantasy genre. The narrative isn't in chronological order and it is up to the reader to piece together the sequence of events. If there is anything I can fault the novel, it is that one has to focus and concentrate on the book to appreciate it: While for the most part McDermott uses one central character's point of view, he occasionally shifts to another character's point of view in the next mini-chapter and there are no labels. It's to his credit though that keen readers are able to identify who's speaking thanks to his strong characterization and the characters in Last Dragon are truly unique individuals. Once you get past that, the novel is an enjoyable read that has unique sensibilities and a very original cosmology. If you're tired of your typical fantasy and want something different, check out Last Dragon. This is one of those books that's multi-layered and one gets to appreciate more with multiple re-readings.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

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