Tuesday, July 22, 2008

DragonLight 3: The Bad Points and Conclusion

All books have weak points, at least for some readers, and Donita K. Paul's DragonLight is no exception. However, the matters I'll raise probably won't be an issue for most people. (The fact that we never get the line, "Everything you always wanted in a dragon--and less!" notwithstanding. I hope that's not a spoiler.)

Non-twists. There were a few places where I expected a twist or complication, but it never arrived. It's difficult to give an example without spoiling the book, but there's a case where a simple mission has a warning attached: if anyone gets clumsy, it will foul everything up. Then the mission suddenly becomes almost a hundred times more complicated--and the dreaded foul-up never happens! It seemed a bit improbable, but the detour into disaster likely wouldn't have helped the story, which I suppose is why it didn't happen. Besides, sometimes the lack of an expected twist is a twist.

Paladin. At the end, Paladin, the ruler of the land, leads a military force that does clear the area usefully, but it then hangs around for cannon-fodder duty, even though Paladin should have been told that the battle can only be won another way. I can see clearing the path, but engaging the enemy beyond a limited point seems irrational. And Paladin's the one who usually knows what to do.

Telepathy. I can see people getting alarmed about magic and dragons, though I consider the fears groundless in this case. I'm more surprised that the constant use of telepathy apparently sparks no concern. I think fantasy is less dangerous than science fiction in this regard, because people are less likely to take fantasy seriously in real life. (Telepathy is more of a sci-fi trope, however.) I wouldn't mention the matter at all, but I have seen a lot of Christian fantasy and science fiction, both published and not-yet-published, that uses telepathy, and I want to stem that tide if I can.

There are at least two reasons why I don't think God would allow telepathy:

1. God alone knows the heart (2 Chron 6:30). This kind of knowledge seems to be a claim to deity. Thus, in John 2:25, the remark that Jesus knew what was in man is often taken as proof of his humanity. On the contrary: it proved his deity, as looking at the previous verse (24) shows: he knew what was in man because he knew all men. And while God does sometimes reveal someone's thoughts to a prophet, for example, that's more a special case. It isn't always there.

2. It would interfere with the gift of loneliness. Since the Fall, we have been cut off from each other--and to some extent even from ourselves. We read in Proverbs 14:10, "Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy." Even couples who have been married a long time are making educated guesses. They cannot truly know each other's thoughts and feelings. And this is a gift. For if we could get past that primal loneliness through a purely human relationship, we would be strongly tempted to ignore God. But God is the only one who does know our hearts, so our loneliness draws us to him. We long to be known and understood. God might grant unfallen beings such a power among themselves--we may have had it originally--but not those who need the loneliness telepathy would dispell.

Conclusion. Nonetheless, in part because fantasy is fantasy, I recommend this book, though of course those new to the series should start with the first book rather than here.

Even more rollicking adventure with the CSFF Team:
Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
* Beth Goddard
Mark Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Terri Main
* Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
* Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Deena Peterson
* Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
* Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Steve, I think you made a strong case for the no-telepathy,, but I would also agree that its use in a fantasy is considerably different from its use in science fiction. The latter gives out the idea that this is a goal, something that one day might be. The former, it's no different than a broom that can fly or a beaver that can talk. Nothing real now or ever about it. Just in that world this is something that wizards can do and people with their riding dragons are capable of.

Always good to see things from a different angle, and you consistently provide that. I appreciate all you put into your posts.


cathikin said...

I never thought of loneliness as a gift. I guess it could be. And I hadn't thought about any concern with the telepathy, particularly since one can guard their thoughts by calling on Wulder to shield the thoughts from others who might try to tune in.

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