[DWJ] Best of 2008

Elizabeth Parks henx19 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 23 13:50:19 EST 2008


I, too, enjoyed Dragonhaven, though I can easily understand why people
would be disappointed.  I wasn't really expecting to enjoy it, as I
disliked _Sunshine_ intensely, because it was frenetic and
self-occupied and I disliked the narrator as a person, thought there
was little to the vampire character, was frustrated by all the
unanswered questions, and was also frustrated by my inability to argue
back.  Dragonhaven had the same frenetic, overdetailed tone to it, but
somehow the flaws in it, for the most part, seemed like the
character's flaws to me.  This was someone who didn't know how to tell
this story, someone who was kind of isolated and didn't like people or
talking, who lived in a world that was cut off from nearly everything
else, was totally self-obsessed and knew it.  There are a lot of
things I would have liked to be different in Dragonhaven, but I
enjoyed it.  And then tried to read Sunshine again, and couldn't
finish it (I've started it at least three times, and finished it only
once.  But then, I don't really like vampire fiction, so. . . ).

Too, there is a strange lack of visual elements to McKinley's work,
especially in first person.  I noticed this in Dragonhaven when Jake
is discussing dragon language, and describes the word "rock" as kind
of a red feeling in your feet (iirc), which incidentally is not where
"rock" is in my body sense of it.  McKinley uses more feeling than
vision--think Con in Sunshine's description of vampires being able to
sense people based on changes in the environment rather than distance.
 I come out of her (first person) books with a visual sense of her
worlds that is closer to infared than normal vision.  She could write
a book about a blind character and I would not notice any particular
difference in the feel of the book.  I do think part of it could be
summarized as showing vs. telling: Chalice, while feeling brief, also
just felt better thought out in some ways than Dragonhaven.  It was
calmer, and more distant, and the characters were more complete, as
opposed to having one very developed character and half a dozen
characters who the reader only kind of knows.

On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 11:09 AM,  <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net> wrote:

>>
>> I loved Spindles End and liked Sunshine even though the narrator does tend
>> to carry on a bit, but the narrator of Dragonhaven is incredibly verbose
>> and
>> mostly has nothing to say. The problem that drives the plot is extremely
>> farfetched AND badly explained, and each plot development is visible
>> chapters away. In the end I felt I was wading through words that meant
>> nothing.
>>
>
> As usual, I feel like I'm the only one who actually liked this book. Which
> is ok. Part of it may be that the narrator's voice is very much like
> McKinley's blog voice, which I'd already been reading for a while. I felt
> like I was being shown Jake's state of mind through his narration; but
> perhaps only a few people could feel connected to that alleged state of
> mind. The legal/political problem that drives the plot is all too
> believable to me, but then I've worked in Non-Profits, as a librarian, in
> the US, for years.  There are definitely three endings, and they do feel--
> odd. I thought they were supposed to; but I can see how it would be
> maddening. I don't think I liked the last ending, it has an "alternative
> ending for Podkayne of Mars" feel to it. (Then again, I just re-read
> _Spellcoats_, OBDWJ, and I find that ending, in the context of the other
> books in that world, frustrating in a completely different way.)
>
> By comparison, Chalice felt light and fluffy, a return to _Beauty_ but
> with less plot substance.
>
> --
> -- Jenne Heise / Jadwiga Zajaczkowa
> jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
>
>
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