If you gave me the option to read a book with dragons, versus one without, I will pick the dragons over everything else. I love dragons that much. So, of course, being promised an asteroid made of dragons, I was pretty excited. And Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams was pretty exciting–at first.
When a lone goblin researcher stumbles across an artifact containing a terrifying message—that the world is in grave and immediate peril—she scrambles to find help. A very unusual asteroid (one constructed as a cage for dragons) is headed straight for the planet, and Xenon is the only person in the world who knows. As she clambers across hill and dale with her quill, journal, and dwindling coin purse to untangle the mystery, she’ll need plenty of luck to find the right clues and the right sort of help.
Meanwhile, our heroes have their own problems. They have a bank to rob, a sea to cross, and a kingdom to infiltrate. Luckily, Rime is a wild mage—the laws of reality quiver when she gives them a stern look—and her guardian, Jonas, wields a reasonably sharp sword. But Rime is slipping ever closer to the abyss of madness, and Jonas is wanted for murder at their final port of call. To make matters worse, the mage-killing Hunt and its commander, Linus, follow the duo like a patient shadow, bent on Rime’s destruction.
When the wise are underfunded, the brave are overbooked, and the cruel are unconcerned, can the world be saved from destruction?
I’m a sucker for genre bending stories. There’s very few fantasy stories I’ve read where the main character wasn’t human. Though, about 30% of the way into the book, I realized Xenon isn’t really the only main character. But regardless–I was pumped to read a story with a goblin as a focal character.
Everything seemed to be going great, even though it did start with a prologue with irrelevant characters that we don’t even see until the middle and end of the book for a few short pages in total. The characters we’re presented in the beginning, three troupers about to read a new play, serve only as mouthpieces for the story to go, “LOOK. HERE IS THE THEME. LOOK! THIS IS THE MESSAGE! IT’S A METAPHOR.”
Not exactly a good reason to have these characters around. In fact, I would have enjoyed the story much more (and probably have given it a fourth star and added this book to a list of favorites) had these troupers not existed in the first place.
But the first half of the story was great; exciting, well paced and before I knew it, I was halfway through the book and it was 2 am. Definitely a good sign.
But it sort of went downhill from there.
There were plenty of strange timeskips, where characters who had previously not met suddenly knew each other well enough to be on a first name basis, and the interactions were jumpy and never fully explained. Throughout the entire book, there were weird capitalizations of random words in the middle of sentences that I first found quirky, but later found incredibly annoying. The worldbuilding was lackluster at best, and the dialogue funky–it’s like Adams couldn’t decide if he were writing a high fantasy or a modern fantasy, with character voices going all over the place. There were times when the prose tried to be profound and poetic, but it just fell flat and didn’t make much sense at all.
The characters weren’t too memorable–there were just too many of them narrating to really get to know any of them. It didn’t help that they were more likely to be called by their characteristic than their name: Scholar Xenon, Mage Rime, Knight Jonas, Demon Sideways. And the story itself left too many loose ends: what happened to the King and why was the King a woman but still called ‘king’? Who spoke with her prior to the asteroid coming? What’s the deal with the Gray Witch? and so on.
In what was promised to be a hilarious take on fantasy just felt like a sort of lighthearted attempt to make a story out of a D&D campaign.
While it may not have been my favorite, I can’t deny that it wasn’t a mildly fresh take on fantasy.