Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Review: Chasing Embers by James Bennett

I wanted to read Chasing Embers because the description sounded interesting and because I have always liked stories about dragons. I was wrong. The book is a tedious slog.

There are moments that sparkle and are exciting. I thought "now the story will get good." I was wrong. Another slog was dead ahead and was more tedious than the last slog and is the central problem with James Bennett's Chasing Embers.

Bennett writes action very well, but fails to rise above 2-dimensional characters that care about anything but fighting, chasing, and getting rid of Red Ben. At least the antagonists, for all their diversity, revel all too briefly in their brief victories -- all too brief. There is no connection to the characters, nothing that delves any deeper than a surface scratch. Why does Red Ben care about humans so much, other than the obvious carnal desire, which seems due to the lack of a female dragon to continue his line, but that is forbidden since only Red Ben among all the dragons may continue to exist in the human world. He signed the treaty that became the Lore 800 years ago when he was barely dry from is hatching. He had obviously not even hit puberty when he signed away his rights in order to keep living. Why fall for a human female when their lifespans are so short and mating so brief and fruitless? Beyond an orgasm, why does he care?

He cares.

So what?

Khadra, the human the Queen of Punt possesses in order to be corporeal, is briefly interesting, very briefly. Bennet takes a very long time getting to the point that Khadra is giving up everything so her people will live. Her sacrifice will bring the rains to her dusty lands. So what? It isn't as if there is any connection between Khadra and her mother or the land of her human birth.

Red Ben loves Rose. So what? He walked away from her because he was bound by the Lore to hide who and what he is. He cares but not enough to bare his soul -- or himself -- and that is the heart of a book that has the beginnings of a story that matters, that readers -- that this reader -- cares about. Red Ben wants to keep living and cannot if there is another dragon in the world because it is against the Lore, the same Lore that he upholds while everyone bound by the Lore breaks it with impunity and promiscuous regularity.

In the end, Chasing Embers is tedious, pointless, and less than superficial. Give it a miss until Bennett rewrites the book or finds editors that can dig deeper than toothpicks scratching granite and expecting to make a lasting mark.

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