The Dragon Queen
by Alice Borchardt
Reviewed by Coral
It's been mentioned to me before that I'm very picky about the things I like and I have to admit there's a lot of truth in that. There are a lot of things - things that some people may consider minor flaws - that I dislike immensely in the books I read or the movies I watch. When I pick up a book about King Arthur, I'm looking to read a story about Arthur and his world. And, because I love history, I tend to want my Arthur stories a little more historical and a little less fantastical. That's not to say a book has to be purely "non-fantastical" for me to like it, but at its core I want it to be more "real" than fantasy.
Which brings me to the first problem I have with this book: it's too fantastical. I somehow doubt there were men who could turn into wolves, talking severed heads, and dragons roaming around Romanized Britain sixteen hundred years ago. The historical context has been sacrificed at the altar of good fantasy and I didn't like it.
The second problem I have with this book is the abundance of original characters. When you choose to write in a "fandom" - and I consider the Arthurian legend a legitimate fandom - it is never a good idea to flood your stories with your own original characters. I didn't pick up this book for Kyra, Dugal, Maeniel, Ena or any of the other characters the author wants to make up, I picked it up for Guinevere, Arthur, Uther, Merlin, etc. A lot of fanfiction writers have this problem too. In the end the book feels bloated and the true fandom gets lost behind a maze of pointless original characters.
I ended up being confused about some of the original characters, mainly Black Leg, son of Maeniel - the man who can turn into a wolf - and a she-wolf. Now I went through most of the book thinking he was a wolf pup, mostly because nothing is ever said to indicate otherwise. And then suddenly, out of nowhere it seems, Black Leg is a man who other men can speak to and is developing feelings for Guinevere, his adopted sister. It was weird, and slightly icky, all at once.
Lastly, and it's a minor flaw really, THE round table did not have a "head" or a "foot". It was sort of the reason behind it's design.