Monday, April 9, 2012

More on The Dragon's Path

I've had a pretty interesting discussion about The Dragon's Path with Neth and few others over at SFF World today.

One of the things I really struggled with internally, (but didn't mention in my review because I don't want an author's personal views or my perception of their views to cloud my review of their work) were the liberal vs. conservative and class politics elements that Abraham weaves into his narrative.  These elements are seen most often in the Kalliam POV chapters. As I mentioned in my review, Kalliam was a character I disliked.  I stated that I felt like Abraham used him to drive along plot elements in the political arena, even though sometimes the decisions he made didn't seem to fit with his character.  However, in my review, I didn't mention that Kalliam was a character that REALLY got under my skin because he represented a lot of things I personally detest, (classism, racism, sexism, and more...) and I couldn't decide whether Kalliam was a subtle work of genius on behalf of Abraham, or an outlet for Abraham's political views.  Neth, who has met Abraham and discussed the book with the author, stated that this not a case of the latter, but almost certainly a deliberate challenging of the reader's perceptions and expectations.

After talking about it with folks at SFF World and reflecting on my review, I feel that I did my readers a disservice by not mentioning this opposition of my-personal-views-versus-plot-elements aspect of my experience in reading The Dragon's Path.  The fact that a character whose views so diametrically oppose my own could cause such an intense internal struggle in me is something that deserves mention and should at the very least speak to Abraham's skill in creating character that can get a powerful reaction out of the reader.

I try really hard to give you readers my honest opinion and give authors a fair review with reasoning to back up my thoughts both positive and negative.  I think I did that here with The Dragon's Path too, as I still stand by everything I stated in my review.  That being said, in an effort to be the most honest and thorough reviewer I can be, I want to add that my review of The Dragon's Path should have mentioned that my personal political/social views were strongly opposed to some of the plot elements in The Dragon's Path. There were parts of the story that were definitely challenging for me on a personal level.   As I mentioned above in this post, thanks to further reflection and discussion of the novel, I'm of the opinion that Abraham is a slick magician when it comes to creating characters that not only challenge the norms of the fantasy genre, but he also challenged me on a personal level.  This is a credit to both the writer and the novel.

Now this doesn't do anything to change my "grade" of the novel, as the lack of world building, lack of cultural diversity, hit and miss character development that though it had an additional layer than what I initially mentioned in my review, still left me wanting more. Combine all that with what I saw as a weak political aspect and my "grade", for what its worth, the arbitrary fucker, still stands. Though I dare say that between the review and this post, you have a pretty clear view of my thoughts on The Dragon's Path.

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