Alice Borchardt


The Dragon Queen (2001)



The Dragon Queen (2001)

The Dragon QueenUsually when I don't like a book, there's something specific I can point to, to say, "THAT horrible thing is what ruined the book for me." Not so for The Dragon Queen. It was more like the death of a thousand paper cuts. A whole bunch of little things adding up into something I just didn't enjoy.

And there are things that I should have liked. A strong female lead character, in a cast of strong women. And by and large I prefer books with strong female characters. She also took the characters of Camelot and rewrote them entirely. Considering that my first Camelot book was The Mists of Avalon, I should have enjoyed this unusual take on Arthur and Guinevere. Plus there were lots of interesting historical bits interspersed throughout the story, which I always love.

But these things didn't overcome the fact that I just wanted this book to be over so I could read something else.

One problem was that I had problems with the writing. There were several times when the point of view shifted without warning, and I had to scramble to figure out what was going on. The time shifts at the beginning of the story were also a huge problem. I still am not clear as to how many years had passed between the events in the first chapter, and the rest of the book. Was it years or decades?

Another problem was that the characters I found most interesting, Maeniel and then Kyra, were only minor characters. I could probably have read more about Maeniel and ignored the problems with writing and timing, but he was quickly shifted to a support character without much more development. Which may have been the first point at which my interest started to lag.

Although the main characters were relatively well fleshed out, the baddies in this story, Merlin and Igrane (Arthur's mother), were flat and boring. I had no idea why they--especially Igrane--did the things they did, other than they were evil. (Irgane especially just seemed to be evil with about five or six e's at the beginning. I half expected to read that she was cackling and rubbing her hands together in unholy glee.)

And then there were the bits that didn't make sense. Guinevere gets sent to Hell to chat with Dis. Why? Guinevere gets sent back in time to fight a monster. Why? She just seemed to do these things (or more rightly have these things done to her) without much rhyme or reason.

So I did not like this book. If you want a Camelot book, I'd recommend instead Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon or Sarah Zettel's Camelot series, starting with In Camelot's Shadow.
Rating: 4/10