The Dragon of Mishbil
Brenda W. Clough
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Who Dares to Tame the Dragon? When Magic Battles Nature -- Which Shall Prevail?
The River Bilcad is a Dragon indeed. It is a monster but poorly restrained by the complex network of canals built to control and harness its raging waters and protect the people of Mishbil. Princess Zaryas, youthful viceroy of the city, learns, quite literally, that the ground has shifted under them all. Slow movements in the earth have raised the canals higher that the river, rendering them useless. Mishbil will slowly die of thirst. A brash young Magus named Xerlanthor comes forward with a daring plan: to use muscle and magic to dam the river and refill the canals. He seeks to win favor for his plan even as he strives to win Zaryas' heart. Ruler of a people that love to gamble, Zayras must bet everything, not knowing if her choices will lead to a double triumph--or a double disaster.
Examine a Fantasy Culture
This book was: Weird.
Thus I will describe its strangenesses.
First of all, it is very inaccurately named. I can only imagine that a number of people picked it up expecting a dragon only to find that there are zero dragon creatures within its pages. The Dragon is a river and the story revolves around problems with said river.
Second, this book is not "high fantasy" at all. The back cover description is completely inaccurate and actually blatantly false. I really wonder if the person who wrote it didn't read the book and instead had it described to him or her and then botched the job.
Third, the naming conventions are very odd. Almost all the main characters have names beginning with the last few letters of the alphabet particularly resulting in the "Zee" sound to start out their names. It grew on me as the book proceeded, but it is a hurdle of eye-rolling in the beginning and makes you wonder why the setting isn't also named Zanzabar.
Now, as for an overall description of the content: this is NOT a typical fantasy novel. It is actually more of an examination of a foreign culture invented by the author. There are some romantic tones blended in as well as rather lifelike struggles and problems. And there are major problems of a natural sort that they attempt to solve using magically shaped structures.
The plain spokenness, and insight into what drives the princess's decision-making processes is what redeems this book from two to three stars. Our main character is an interesting one and the author's turn of phrase brings her to life quite deftly.
Very Minor Spoiler Ahead
I didn't always appreciate the princess's decisions though. While they are driven by the culture she lives in, I have a hard time believing that a just or compassionate ruler would have people "lapidated" (executed by public stoning) for crimes that I thought to be rather minor. She also, at one point, yells at peasant children from the balcony of her palace. The children were stealing plums from a city vendor, but I found the overall image rather striking: a woman smitten with herself and living in luxury yelling at children stealing food - quite the juxtaposition. She may prove wise about a number of things but I don't think the reflection she sees in the mirror shows her her own rather heinous shortcomings.
And well, the ending is something rather shocking all the way around. I do feel for her as she isn't exactly a monster, just a person who is only used to a certain life and the confines of it.
All told: This book is nothing like what it seems to be or the way the back cover summarizes it. It also has a rather abrupt but actually quite lifelike ending and you may either like or hate the final resolution.
Reading is an adventure in itself though and at least the book is written well enough to make the pages fly about half to two thirds of the way through.
DO read this book if you are up for a very different and possibly heart-shaking experience. DON'T read this book if you are all about happy endings.
- Category: Fantasy
- Published: Sep 10, 2011
- Publisher: FoxAcre Press
- Seller: Roger MacBride Allen
- Print Length: 130 Pages
- Language: English