Today I am judging Adam Britt’s novel, Legacy of the Dragons.
The story is told through multiple perspectives, and early on it appears to be about a zombie outbreak as experienced by different individuals. As the story progresses, we learn that the outbreak is the result of a curse placed on the world by an ancient dragon, Ebon, who has lost all hope for the world. Ebon is half of a binary pair of dragons, Ebon and Celeste, who had each agreed to watch over the world; Ebon represents death and Celeste represents life. Ebon had gone evil and destructive previously, but Celeste was able to give him part of her heart to heal his rage.
In the present, someone has found Ebon’s old heart, which has caused the start of the curse and the zombie apocalypse.
Celeste now inhabits the human form of a man named Charlie. In the guise of Charlie, Celeste gathers a team to stop Ebon and the zombie apocalypse. The team consists of several spies/mercenaries who distrust one another, and two guys who kind of seem like modern-day versions of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, but not nearly as useful. As the team fights the zombies, they learn that the zombies are activated by a hive mind through the control of Ebon. When the zombies speak as Ebon, Celeste learns that Ebon’s evil plan involves destroying all humans and bringing back the non-human races.
If they wish to stop the destruction of the human race, Celeste and her team will have to go to a mythical magical realm to do battle with elves and stop the dark elven queen from carrying out Ebon’s sinister plan.
If you don’t remember my star ranking system, please refer back to my explanation in this blog.
I give this novel 2 out of 5 stars.
Please realize that I don’t give this ranking lightly. Starting out, the book had good flow, an interesting use of multiple points of view, and a nice new spin on zombies. The addition of dragons worked for me, until the explanation of the dragon lore. Up until that point, I would have ranked this book 4 out of 5 stars easy! But with the dragon lore section, the writing started to tank, and the story got more convoluted and confusing.
The fact that this story uses multiple perspectives impressed me a bit, because it’s a different way of telling the story that can boost intrigue. What surprised me was how the author was changing between first-person perspectives and omniscient with the different points of view. It would make sense if all of the individual points of view were first-person, and when everyone was together the voice would change to an omniscient narrator, but that’s not what happened. Instead, when everyone was together, the story remained first-person and focused on Celeste.
Although I applaud the author’s efforts on using multiple perspectives, I don’t think it achieved the desired result. A key reason to do multiple perspectives is to thoroughly develop individual characters in a way that may not make sense when focusing on an ensemble cast all the time. In the individual chapters, there was some good character development, but when everything coalesced in the later chapters, the characters who were developed seemed to change a little, and it felt like completely different people as compared to those described earlier.
Since so many of the characters involved were more flat than dynamic, I feel it was a wasted effort to do multiple perspectives on this particular story.
The only other reason I can think of to explain why the author chose this route was to show how the zombie apocalypse was affecting people in different areas, and to have a way or reason to rewind the story to discuss the lore of ancient dragons. Again, I don’t think the multiple perspective method was executed well, which significantly affected the overall story.
There were other factors at play that contributed to the lower ranking of the story. Honestly, I was ready to give a far better ranking until about halfway through the book. Everything in the book just went pear-shaped from the “Star Crossed” chapter and on.
In the first half of the book, the multiple perspectives presents short stories of the individual characters as a development strategy. Unfortunately, most of the characters were more archetypal than anything else. The first chapter reads like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters of Watson and Holmes. The chapter about Giovanni and the other spies had good potential, especially with the sleeper agent angle the author was pushing for, but again, even the spies were caricatures.
The author definitely focused more on the character of Celeste, but even there things failed to fully make sense. At first you understand that the two dragons exist in a binary system of life and death; basic, but it works. As the background of the dragon lore chapters reveal, we discover that Celeste used to be known as Lucius, who is the male dragon who fell in love with a female human and produced a forbidden half-breed offspring. How Lucius becomes Celeste, I have no idea, and nor is it really explained.
You really only discover this truth about Celeste/Lucius at the end when we learn that the elven queen is Lucius’s daughter. Somehow the elves stripped her of her humanness, which turned her into a frail creature that is not exactly an elf but not exactly a dragon (?). This part was way confusing and sadly never really explained.
Ultimately, the author tries to use some of the main characters to hit on the emotional aspects of betrayal, parents abandoning children, fear of death, fear of zombies, etc., but in some ways it seems like these emotional triggers were emphasized as a way to take a shortcut and not develop the characters. I think it’s a shame, because the start of each of the characters had some solid structure, and if they were each fleshed out more thoroughly, I think many of these characters could have been far more dynamic, interesting, and relatable.
Grammar and Technical Issues
There were some minor spelling issues and a few grammar problems here and there, but for the most part the copy was clean. The major issues had more to do with the flow of the story, continuity, and problems with everything NOT making sense in the end. There were a good number of plot points that were quickly explained in ways that were somewhat acceptable, but remained nonetheless unclear to the reader. A good content editor could have really been a benefit to this manuscript.
My biggest gripe about this story is the entire “Star Crossed” chapter. There were SO many issues in this chapter that completely took me out of the narrative, and I think this chapter alone is responsible for ruining the whole book. Here are my key distraction problems with the chapter:
Let me be clear – I am NOT accusing the author of stealing other people’s work word for word. I am accusing the author of using very similar scenes from Jane Austen. The way that the characters in this chapter flirt, the way the females are against each other because of class and rank issues is totally a retelling of various moments from Jane Austen’s best works. I found this in poor taste. If it were done as an homage, it might have made sense, except for the fact that the author tried to place the beliefs of a later era onto the ones of a far earlier one.
Okay – although no year is given, it’s implied that dragons existed at least 1,000 years ago or more. Yet, these characters in this chapter have Regency era mannerisms, perceptions, and beliefs. If you’re not familiar, the Regency era is the same era in which Jane Austen’s stories took place, i.e., the 1700s. A story taking place over 1,000 years ago would be at best in the medieval era, in which the actions, treatments, speech, mannerisms, and education of women were extremely different.
This chapter tries to have a medieval backdrop, yet the female characters are motivated by late-Renaissance/Enlightenment issues. Namely, they focus on the problems associated with titled but penniless individuals marrying the wealthy merchant class. This social problem didn’t exist when the monarchy still had absolute power. To have this issue going on in the story makes absolutely no sense. A financially poor kingdom might marry off its royal heirs for access to more power and lands, but not in the way the story describes.