book review, fantasy

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

Fresh out of naval college, Min’s first assignment is on the airship Narwhal. Unfortunately, the ship crashes through a portal to a strange world where the sea surrounds the sky, portals are more numerous than stars, and a planet sized dragon lurks in the shadows.

Min must handle a crew mutiny, an eccentric old man who lives in the Darkstar Dimension, and unfriendly creatures if she’s going to gather enough magic to get the Narwhal back home.

Look at that cover. Isn’t it a thing of beauty. Who could resist it? Combine it with dragons and portal fantasy, and I was sold!

Unfortunately, like a lot of portal fantasies I’ve read recently (I’m looking at you, The Ten Thousand Doors of January), the majority of the action takes place in the Darkstar Dimension, with other worlds mentioned in diary entries at the end of each chapter.

The dragon, like the portals, isn’t in the book as much as I’d hoped from the cover, only appearing at the beginning and end of the book

The burden of the plot rests on the character’s shoulders. The protagonist, Min, is a newly minted First Officer from some Star Trek Federation like naval academy that fosters equality and freedom and all that good stuff. Like many science fiction television shows, Min’s problem boils down to a battery problem, or in her case, magic, which is needed to power her flying ship. Thus she must search for a new Beryllium sphere, I mean magic source, and her efforts bring her into conflict with her crew.

The scenario is rich in potential conflict, if only the characters had come alive for me. I’m told how Min is the best, how annoying she finds her crew, how strange she finds the old man living in the Darkstar Dimension. Later in the book, during a Captain Kirkesque fight with some aliens, I’m even told that Min realizes she’s bombastic. However, none of these things seem to impact on how Min acts or speaks or generally exists. I couldn’t see Min or her crew as people, and therefore it was very hard to care for them.

However, there is a lot to like about this book. It’s competently written, nicely formatted and laid out. The idea of the Darkstar Dimension is fabulous. I loved the descriptions of the island sized turtle moth, the glowing fish that inhabit the water like galaxies, and the gravity defying manta rays. Brightest, and his turtle moth friend, Stickle, were my favorite characters. I liked the notes at the end of each chapter that detailed Brightest’s adventures in other worlds over the years.

There are also lots of imaginative ideas within this book. There is a magical parasite glove, which gives the wearer great power while it slowly devours them. The game of Eshak, a sort of Chess/Dungeons and Dragons hybrid that imbues the playing pieces with magic over time. A glass knight that is almost impossible to destroy. The frequent character nosebleeds that hint at a hidden presence wiping their minds whenever they stumble upon pertinent questions.

While this book was not be for me, I’m sure many looking for a fantasy adventure will enjoy their journey to the Darkstar Dimension.

I award The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon is available for $5.66 ebook and $11.99 print book on Amazon.

This was a Zombie Dragon review for The Book Trove, a group of writers, bloggers, and reviewers doing our best to show some love to indie and self-published books. Find us on Twitter.

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