An exciting, surreal, swashbuckling adventure that brings back some childhood nostalgia of a trip through a magical story.
Ebook £3.99 (or free to borrow on Kindle Unlimited) Paperback £9.99 AMAZON UK
This is a review for The Flight of The Darkstar Dragon, by Benedict Patrick.
Impossible world. Impossible dragon. Impossible adventure.
Lost with her ship and crew in an unfamiliar land, Min’s first command could be her last. Nothing here behaves the way it should:
The magic that powers her skyship has been drained, rendering it immobile. The sky is an endless twilight, lit by the luminous fish that swim in it. Off starboard, there’s also the country-sized dragon that is looking particularly hungry.
It will take all of Min’s training and experience to get her people safely back home, but as the truth about the Darkstar Dimension begins to be revealed, Min will have to prove to her crew – and to herself – that she is still the best person for the job.
From the twisted mind that created the ‘delightfully weird’ Yarnsworld series comes a fantasy adventure like no other.
I haven’t read Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series yet (Pick book 1 up here) but ‘Delightfully Weird’ is also apt for this first book in his new series. It’s one of the rare times I’ve finished a book, satisfied, but having to ask myself, “What on Earth just happened?”
Remember the last time you fell into a deep sleep after waking up in the night, and your brain took you to bizarre places that didn’t really make any sense but you went along for the ride anyway? Then you ended up on an adventure you enjoyed but can’t really explain? That’s the Flight of the Darkstar Dragon.
I feel in terms of plot, this is not the easiest review to write because I don’t want to spoil the events; you’ll enjoy it more going in unknowing what will happen. I feel this review will be more beneficial to you if I describe how it makes you think and feel rather than dissecting the intricacy of the plot or going too in depth on the characters.
This book requires you to suspend disbelief, sit back and relax (don’t concentrate too hard) – and just enjoy the journey! This is not your average fantasy novel and you don’t need to ready yourself for page after page of dialogue, world building and scene-setting. For me, it’s the perfect book to read off the back of a heavy tome or one of the Malazan novels for example, where you need serious focus to get through unscathed.
The majority of the book takes place in the Darkstar Dimension, a sparkling sea (and sky) lit with a purple glow from its prominent feature: The Darkstar itself. The titular character is the “country sized” dragon which curls itself around the star and ventures away to trouble anything big enough to see, or anything radiating any magic. Like I said, you do have to suspend disbelief and try not to question the logic. A dragon as large as a country for example wouldn’t even be able to see something as small as the ship Min (our protagonist) and her crew sail on. I preferred to imagine this was an exaggeration and perhaps the dragon was the size of a small modern day city.
Onto our main character, Min. The book is written in the 3rd person but we see it from Min’s point of view, which works nicely when understanding her thoughts and the challenges she faces in leading a crew, despite not officially being a captain.
We are soon introduced to Brightest, an intriguing character who has been living in the Darkstar Dimension for 50 years, exploring the rifts that appear to other dimensions, choosing however to keep the Darkstar Dimension as his permanent home. It’s through these rifts that we see the endless possibility for adventure in this book and in future novels in the series, each world/dimension being radically different in many cases. It’s through these dimensions that Patrick is able to showcase his wonderful imagination and really enchant the reader, and is the book’s main strength.
Through this exploration, I was given a great nostalgic feeling of being a child again, reading a story that doesn’t have to have defined and structured rules and can be whatever it wants to be. Sentient Turtle Moths, Rays that can be ridden, a race of beings that live for one day, traversing rifts that literally tear you apart and put you back together again as you cross them. This book is refreshing and enjoyable for this escape it provides. This dream-like quality to the storytelling is suited to just sitting back and enjoying an adventure (that is fast paced throughout) without feeling like you have to take notes. The fact that it is less than 250 pages too, really adds to this short, fun, exciting and absolutely surreal adventure.
You couldn’t be blamed for expecting a story such as this to go light on the character development but this isn’t the case. We have a diverse set of characters and we really come to sympathise with Min and Brightest, and take a genuine dislike to the primary antagonists, whilst empathising with the situations the characters are put in.
It may not be the next blockbuster but this book is fun. It does have some swearing in it but otherwise is not necessarily a purely adult read as the themes aren’t particularly dark. I’d have certainly enjoyed it as a young teenager as much as I have done as an adult. The main themes are adventure, hope, exploration and discovery which make it a little more light hearted than it has the potential to be given difficult situations that arise.
Something I particularly like in the book is the game of Eshak, which partly plays a central part to the storyline but has potential to be explored further. The game is very chess-like in its description and it is suggested that it is a game that is played, in some form, across dimensions and worlds. With many victories, players can sometimes be fortunate enough that their pieces begin to hold magic of their own, with the more magical pieces especially rare and valuable (and coveted). Players gain a massive amount of prestige being able to showcase these pieces, with the pieces being able to take on characteristics of their own. I feel this is something that will be explored further in the series and is a nice touch.
It is a solid, well written and exciting adventure that is perfectly capable of transporting you away from the real world and captivating your imagination on every page. I’m certainly open to reading the next book and being able to take my mind on another bizarre, wholesome adventure of discovery.
You’ll like this if: You want a fast paced, fun read. You’re ready for your imagination to soar. You want a bit of a change from the common medieval style fantasy experience. You’re feeling a little stressed and overwhelmed at the minute and just want to take your mind away on an adventure!
This may not be for you if: You want to start a new sprawling epic adventure with multiple books to devour or a long story. You’re looking for a more traditional fantasy tale. You want a world that is a little less ‘fantastical’ and more logical.