book reviews by Althea

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters **

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Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters
Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters by Janet E. Morris

*** The First Dragon Eater – Janet and Chris Morris
Interesting. This piece has an intentionally-elevated, formal style which effectively brings to mind ancient mythologies – maybe Babylonian, more than anything else? One really gets a sense of a greater culture and complicated pantheon behind what’s on the page. However, that very quality of the writing also makes it a little bit inaccessible and confusing, as characters and events are continually brought up without explanation or introduction.
It’s a historical explanation of why a certain people partake in a ritual that they do.

** Legacy of the Great Dragon – S.E. Lindberg
The Egyptian gods are losing their divine powers and becoming mortal. Thoth is desperately trying to research some alchemical or scientific way of restoring their immortality, but Horus is stupidly impatient and focused solely on his age-old conflict with Set. The lust for power will destroy the painstaking search for knowledge…
I liked the ideas here, but unfortunately I felt that the execution was rather clunky.

*** Bring Your Rage – Janet & Chris Morris
Queen of the Amazons, Penthesilea, is among a group of rough, rowdy and disenchanted men assembled to hunt a dragon and, after proving their worth, to fight against Troy. But them one man arrives who makes the crowd seem like the rabble they are. This may be the one man whom she can see as a hero…

*** Aquila of Oyos – Walter Rhein
A fearsome but ancient dragon refuses to admit that times are changing, when a chained dragon in the company of men approaches his lair. Age-old taboos forbid a dragon from killing another dragon… but this is an extreme provocation.

*** The Wyght Wyrm – Cas Peace
When a group of Druids capture a dragon, they initially believe that they will use its harnessed power to help their beleaguered land. But soon enough they are preying on the people they are meant to serve, and the people must appeal to a Christian knight to save them.

*** The Old Man on a Mountain – Jack William Finley
After a long and bloody career, an elderly dragon slayer has one last goal – to confront the beast that killed his family and set him on his life’s path.

** Of Blood and Scales – AL Butcher
Sword-and-sorcery-style action story. A quest to hunt a dragon to acquire an antidote to the poison that’s killing a young duchess. The plot is fun, but non-optimal word choices and frequent, jarring shifts in perspective are distracting.

** Night Stalkers – Travis Ludvigson
‘The Song of Roland’, retold, with the addition of three dragons and some magical powers. Very straightforward-feeling – plenty of action, but not much dramatic tension.

** Forged – Tom Barczak
Magical showdown at a pub, over a young girl. Unexpected qualities are suddenly revealed, all ’round.

*** The Rhyme of the Dragon Queen – JP Wilder
Novella-length adventure that felt a bit influenced by Joe Abercrombie at times. A company of professional dragon hunters sets out on a quest to kill the Queen of Dragons. The lyrics of a tavern song may hold more clues to the nature of the beast than they’d guessed, and long-hidden secrets from the past will be unearthed.

*** The Dragon’s Horde – Joe Bonadonna
Robert E. Howard-style sword and sorcery tale. I was very pleased to find that we ARE talking about a horde here, not a hoard. Barbarians fight the lizard-men that are dragons’ minions. But not until a woman warrior with two wolverines at her heels arrives does a quest ensue…

*** Wawindaji Joka (The Dragon Hunters) – Milton Davis
North African-flavored fantasy featuring a bodyguard who is forced by his merchant employer to join a group of legendary ‘dragon’ hunters to make sure that they fulfill their contract. I thought this one had a very early-80’s feel to it.

** Against the Sky Tomb of the Earth – M. Harold Page
Steampunk-style dragon hunting, plus ghost-animated robot skeletons. It reads like a description of an action-movie scene, rather than an actual story.

*** Red Rain – William Hiles
During the Civil War, soldiers find themselves re-evaluating who the real enemy is, when they find themselves facing a dragon.

** La Betaille – Beth W. Patterson
Down in the Louisiana bayous, a ‘red-headed stepchild’ dreams of getting out of her town and studying to become a herpetologist. But things in her town are getting uglier, and a reptile that doesn’t resemble the ones she loves may be to blame.
The provided translations of French words really made the flow of the story feel choppy, and the ending was sappy and didn’t ring true.

** Arctic Rage – Bruce Durham
More a scene than a story – dragon versus military tank, at a post-apocalyptic arctic base.

** Sic Semper Draconis – Mark Finn
There’s been a Jurassic time warp, and our world has been invaded by dinosaurs. A rough team of Rangers is on patrol, looking to engage the beasts.

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