Dragonfire

Title: Dragonfire

Author: David Rose

Length: Short Story/10 pages

Genre: Sci-fi, Technothriller, Gaming

Author website: click here

Amazon link to purchase: click here

Parental Guidelines: some swearing, sexual innuendos, drug references

Description from Amazon:  This is a short story. Dragonfire is the name of the game, a new, totally immersive computer game set in a fantasy world. Figurative dragons lurk in hidden places, the stakes are high, and losing the game means losing your life – or does it? This is a short story.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5

REVIEW:

You know what you want to say with every good short story?  “Oh, I wish it were longer.”  I’m not going to do that, or did I just do that?

First, about the story, Caitlin and Florian are brother and sister.  Their dad–owner of a huge computing (software?) corporation named Megaware–has just died and the shares have plummeted.  They stabilize after the succession plans are announced.  Caitlin is the responsible, straight-laced, older sister.  She is poised to take the reins.  Florian is a womanizing, drug and alcohol addicted, playboy of sorts.  The latest release from Megaware, called Dragonfire, is some type of role playing online game that has real life consequences for those playing.  Without ruining anything, Caitlin goes into the game, it has real life consequences, there’s a twist, the end.

Let’s get the bitching out of the way and I’ll talk about what I didn’t like. Honestly, anything I complain about will be nit-picking.  I didn’t find any deal breaking blunders with this story.  It certainly wasn’t boring.  A quick bit of research into the author reveals he’s from South Africa.  This is in no way detrimental to the story or writing in general.  I say this because the setting of the story (the real world anyway) is in Chicago.  Once you begin reading you’ll see that it’s almost all written in a foreign (to Americans) English dialect.  This isn’t a slight against other English speaking countries or their authors, and I’m sure there are plenty of foreigners in Chicago who run mega corporations or rank high in the organization.  But, I found myself thinking, ‘Why not just have it set in Johannesburg, London, or Sydney?”  One of the countries that use an ‘s’ instead of a ‘z’ in their writing, and uses the dialect.  This was a very minor distraction, but it was one nonetheless.  It wasn’t far fetched or anything, it just seemed a bit unlikely and could have been avoided easily.  Might not bother some people, some people might not even blink at it, but it caught my attention.

Now, if you read the description, and are still surprised that this is in fact a ‘short story’, it would probably behoove you to wear a helmet in public and not operate heavy machinery.  That being said, I felt like there was way too much world building and character introduction for this length.  It’s one of the great and also irritating things about a short story.  You find yourself wishing you’d taken your time when reading it.  This one packed so much information into such a tight word count, that I think it really needed to be longer.  It’s like finally bedding the head cheerleader at a high school party, playing ‘just the tip’ for 10 minutes, and then passing out from the four Zimas with Jolly Ranchers you chugged 30 minutes prior to your good fortune coming to fruition.  That being said, the story was packed very well into the few pages.  I still wanted to know more about the characters.  The only one you really get to know is Caitlin.  Her character is developed very well.  I’m not a huge gamer, but I’ve known people obsessed with online gaming, and the characterization of her was nailed by the author.  I still wanted to know more about Florian, and this mysterious floozy named Meg.  I also wanted to know more about all of the characters in the online world.  Who were they?  Who was behind them, sitting on a bean bag chair, drinking gallon sized slurpees and shoveling Cheetos into their mouths?  I wanted to go through the online world more and hear more about the corporation and how things shaped up during the transition.  I wanted the personal assistant to have some clandestine agenda, or be more interesting.

The last item on the bitching agenda is that many of the names and euphemisms were a bit corny in the virtual world.  I don’t know if this was serious or meant to be comical.  Like I said, I’m not a gamer, so this may be the norm.  For instance, ol’ Grayblade pisses in a chamber pot, and there is a thief named Dipper Lightfoot.  I mean c’mon, that’s pretty funny.  But I don’t know if it was meant to be comical.  I’m afraid if I were in a book club discussing the story with hardcore online gamers, I might just receive some derisive looks or be called a name in some gamer’s language, or just referred to as a muggle in general.

For the things I loved about the story?  Almost everything.  Mr. Rose certainly can tell a story.  The writing was superb, especially for an indie.  I hate having to say that, but there is some real indie garbage out there.  This was polished and easy to read.  It was fast paced, which I enjoyed.  I’m not real big on huge lengths of prose describing the smallest objects and irrelevant things.  In a short story there is no time for that, so maybe it was forced on the author, but I have a feeling his other writing is probably well balanced.  The dialogue was good.  Like I said before, you’ll recognize that it’s not American English, but it’s not like trying to understand Brad Pitt in Snatch.  The concept certainly isn’t original, but it’s done very well.  Florian was the archetypal millionaire playboy, a character who’s been done a billion times, but I still found myself liking him for some reason.  I think there is an ‘x factor’ with some writers, where their writing is just likeable.  Mr. Rose is one of those.  The world building was very good for a work of this length.  I imagined myself sword fighting with ol’ Grayblade at the chamber pot, after a few keg stands of light ale, talking about wenches and our latest conquests with the town harlots.  The twist at the end was not predictable, but it didn’t kick me in the nuts either.  It was kind of in the back of my mind, but wasn’t obvious by any means.

Bottom line, I think if you enjoy this genre of story, it would probably be worth paying $.99 for.  It was available for free on Amazon when I downloaded it and that was well worth it.  It’s probably about a 15-20 minute read.  I truly wish it were longer, at least a novella, if not a novel or even a series.  This would make a fantastic lead into a full series or omnibus of sorts.  I would purchase the next.  I certainly hope Mr. Rose fleshes this one out into a larger work.  He certainly has the writing chops for it.  I’d be glad to read and review other works by him, that fit the genre anyway.  Overall, a 4.5 out of 5.

 

 

Comments
  1. Reblogged this on Indie Author Review Exchange and commented:
    A really honest and informative review that I’m sure any author would be delighted to receive. My compliments to this new and exciting book reviewer..

    Liked by 1 person

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