Mar 25, 2012

The Dragonbards

by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

I don't know why I slogged so long through this book before finally realizing it was never going to enthrall me like its predecessors.  The Dragonbards is the third in a trilogy I discovered long ago. I read the first book,  Nightpool, probably twenty years ago and loved it. I found the second book, The Ivory Lyre, some ten years later as a complete surprise (not knowing there were any sequels) and liked it, though not as much as the first. I should have known the third would be a dud, especially coming to it as an adult. This isn't the first time I've had such an experience.

It feels awkward to write about this book when I haven't said anything about the first two, but here goes. A fantasty story about good battling evil, set in a world called Tirror where dragons have recently been rediscovered along with the people who can bond with them, called bards. When the bards and dragons sing they reawaken people's memories and awareness of their history. Evil forces in this world are enslaving city after city to take over the world, using drugs to dull people's minds and make them forget their identities. The hero of the story, Tebriel, and his dragon are leading the forces of good in a battle to drive the evil out of their world. This has all the makings of a great story- wonderful dragons, intelligent talking animals (mainly otters and large cats), a love interest between two close friends who don't realize what they feel for each other until nearly the last page, plenty of action and some magic. There's even a journey through other worlds that connect through mysterious Doors (made me think of C.S. Lewis' pools) But it all fell flat for me. I just couldn't muster up any interest in the story or even the characters, although I remember loving them so well long ago. Even the interesting themes running through the story- how important memories are to identity, or how drug abuse dulls the mind, or how the hero has to battle his own pride and allows himself to be influenced by the Dark side- just didn't work for me. I kept going back to it hoping I'd find it lively again, but no. I was even afraid I'd lost my interest in reading for the time being, what with current stresses- but the book I'm reading now is going swimmingly, so it's not that at all.

No, this book is just lame. It might work for a kid, and I do hope when I go back to read the first two I still like them, but otherwise I'd say skip it. I did end up skimming the last few chapters just to find out what happened in the end, but even that wasn't very satisfying.

Abandoned ......... 249 pages, 1988


Susan said...

That is so difficult, isn't it, when a book we loved once, we find we don't feel the same about when we go back to it, or the series continues? It hasn't happened often but when it does, I always feel such a sense of failure, like it's me and not the book. I've had to learn that sometimes a book is only good for that time - the themes in it speak to whatever we are going through, then. Does that make sense? Then again, there are books we can read at any age that we love. I wonder if they have more universal themes? That sounds too general, doesn't it?

I hope you find something good to read and that you feel better soon, Jeane.

Jeane said...

I think you're right. Some books only speak to us at a certain time in our lives. In this case, I feel like the books were written towards a young audience and don't quite have that quality that makes them timeless. When I was younger I loved them and let my imagination fill in many gaps; but now they just feel kind of flat to me.