The premise of There Will Be Dragons is interesting, the kind of premise that made me want to read the book just to see where John Ringo would go with it. Ringo paints a unique, utopian world with a nearly perfect society. Then, in this perfect world, an apocalypse happens and forces these individuals to live in pre-industrial style. I would consider There Will Be Dragons a science fiction/fantasy hybrid.
This is a broad undertaking for any author, and Ringo does it with gusto. His writing is simple to follow and easy to understand. He is descriptive as he paints his picture for the reader. It is easy to understand the world he is setting up.
It’s obvious that Ringo did his homework when writing this novel. The writing is meticulously detailed regarding war and period life, at times making the novel seem more like a textbook or an instruction manual than a novel. He also focuses heavily on political ideas in some sections, making me wonder if he used this book, in part, to grandstand his personal opinions.
Ringo’s writing is adequate rather than outstanding, and There Will Be Dragons lacks a level of depth that could have turned it into a classic speculative fiction work. The characters are disappointingly one-dimensional and almost campy.
Ringo’s characters also shift. Several characters who are central in the beginning of the book end the book as secondary characters, and several secondary characters maneuver themselves into primary roles. While this may not bother some readers, I felt myself wanting to find out what was happening to the characters I’d become attached to at the beginning of this work, but by the end they seemed to fade into obscurity.
The ending of this book is incredibly predictable. I won’t expand on this point because I don’t want to give too much away, but the cookie-cutter nature of the ending made it difficult to fully appreciate.
In all, There Will Be Dragons is a standard read. The premise is fascinating and thought-provoking, two major marks in Ringo’s favor. The story loses its luster in the characterization and mind-bogging instruction-manual-like details that caused me to lose interest at several points. The unique plot seems to lose some of its color and become predictable, and the pace drags at several points.
If you are interested in a unique idea and a fun, escapist kind of read, There Will Be Dragons is for you. If you want something full of depth and beautiful writing, I’d look elsewhere.
FanLit thanks Sarah Chorn from Bookworm Blues for contributing this guest review.