Master of Dragons: Half-baked

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Margaret Weis Dragonvarld Master of DragonsMaster of Dragons by Margaret Weis

Master of Dragons, the final book in Margaret Weis’s Dragonvarld trilogy was a tasty but sloppy finale — like a cheesecake that didn’t quite set.

This last book wraps things up, as we knew it would, and everything is finally well in the world, as we knew it would be. There are some fine moments (Draconas showing tenderness to a female dragon, Ven finds a family, Marcus falls in love) and even some hilarious ones (Draconas darning socks, Evelina’s ironic fate). Characterization, especially of the bad guys, continues to be a high point, and the writing is nothing brilliant, but certainly pleasant enough.

But this otherwise entertaining novel suffers from internal inconsistencies:

  • On page 38, Draconas is said to wear “the guise of a human male in his thirties,” and 5 pages later he is described as “a human male of undetermined years.”
  • Draconas has cast the illusion that he is a little girl while staying in DragonKeep. He is able to eavesdrop on adults because of his keen dragon hearing. But, later, we are told that as a little girl “his hearing was so reduced that it seemed his ears were stuffed with wax.”
  • Much of what Anora (Prime Minister of the dragon parliament) says to the parliament is illogical and none of the dragons ever notice. For example, she says she should have removed Draconas from his post as “walker” because he was starting to become emotionally involved with humans, but she didn’t remove him because he was the best walker they’d ever had because he was able to stay detached from humans. Then she says that she became involved in Maristara and Grald’s plot 200 years ago because humans had become such a threat (she cites their canons), but a few lines later she says that because their plot went awry, the humans created canons (a few years ago). Sometimes she indicates that the canons are a threat which, though they are no threat, show that humans are, for the first time in their history, preparing to fight dragons.

There also seem to be inconsistencies about dragon magic vs dragon blood, who can see through illusions and who can’t, and to what extent thoughts can be shielded from others with dragon magic. These sorts of “rules” seem to be conveniently flexible. For example, one of the monks is able to see through illusions, yet he doesn’t recognize Draconas?

Then there are the unbelievable elements. For example, Anora’s betrayal just doesn’t ring true — it sounds like a forced plot twist. And, Anora says that to keep their plot secret from Draconas, they had to kill some good dragons (which she seems to regret) when, if they had just killed Draconas instead, everything would have been fine. And it didn’t make sense to keep the plot from the dragon parliament if the purpose of it was to protect the dragons from the might-someday-be-threatening humans. It would have made immensely more sense, and been a lot less stressful, to just go to the parliament and say “hey, these humans want to kill us — let’s kill them first.” That seems a lot easier and a lot more likely to be successful than to embark on a 200 year breeding program in order to try to figure out if they might someday rule the humans with half-human, half-dragon creatures and a pack of mad monks. (And let’s not forget that the humans weren’t even starting to threaten the dragons until AFTER the breeding program started.) (And let’s not forget that Anora even says herself that the humans are not actually threatening yet — they just might be in the future.) The whole thing just seems sloppy. Half-baked.

I listened to this on audiobook. The reader, a woman, did a great job with the female voices. At first I thought she was doing a great job with the male voices too, because her voice for Grald, the first male speaker, was excellent — really slimy. Unfortunately, she used the same slimy voice for every male character in the entire book.

My overall opinion of this series: Unless you’ve just got a thing for dragons, I’d recommend choosing something better.


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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