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Last Dragon by J. M. McDermott

Last Dragon

by J. M. McDermott

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12418148,685 (3.23)5
In a debut novel offering a saga of justice, revenge, ambition, and power, Zhan embarks on a quest to find her grandfather, a man accused of killing her own family, as well as every other man, woman, and child in their village, only to discover that things may not be what they seem as she uncovers an unexpected web of deceit, treachery, and evil.… (more)
  1. 00
    On Blue's Waters by Gene Wolfe (jramboz)
    jramboz: A similar narrative style, complete with epistulary form and not strictly chronological ordering. This is the first volume of a three-volume series, and is also the sequel to another series, The Book of the Long Sun (which is also somewhat tied to The Book of the New Sun).… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I received this book from the Apex Book Minions program for an honest review.

TRIGGER WARNING: Talk of rape, Romani slurs, abuse

Honestly this book was a confusing mess to me. It jumps around in time and between people on occasion to where I just couldn't put the pieces together.
FIrst of all I don't really know who the main character is. I think her name is Zhan, but I'm not sure. I think she might be white, still not sure. Maybe Adel was?

As for diversity this book feels like it was using a checklist.
"Brown person - check
Gypsy - check
Red head - check
Autistic person - check"

Even so lots of people in this book are described as having dark or black skin, however it seems to be different than brown skin. As lots of the bad people are described as having dark skin and being cannibals.
There are even these types of descriptions "People with "nut brown" skin that speak like "frogs and chimpanzees" and have "slanted eyes". That's not the first time that description was used.
I also hope you like your Romani slurs as the word "gypsy" appears constantly when Staf Sru Korinyes shows up and then after that. Oh and she's infested with ants. I shit you not. It's why the 'gypsies' can sing so good is that they are a literal hive mind.
Then there is Partridge. Yeah that's his name. He's the autistic one that is constantly called "fool" and is beaten mercilessly into silence. Don't worry, they are both dead before the book is out. The book doesn't even describe Partridge all that much because "he was Seth's problem". Which is a damn cop out from the author considering how long this book is.
Next is Korinyes who is sexually assaulted into submission by Seth. Then they are suddenly totally soulmates or something. It was disgusting to read.
Adel is supposed to be a "strong warrior woman" but she's also threatened with rape from a "dark skinned mercenary" and needs saving by a man. She also breaks down and cries and then needs help from a man.

All this time I have no real idea what's going on in the book other than they are on some trek to somewhere. In the meantime the narrative jumps about like a stream of consciousness, first the characters are talking about one thing, then they are hungry. Damn if the characters aren't always starving and hungry. Many words are used to tell us this fact, and the fact they are freezing in the cold and how people are always puking all over the place and how gross and ugly everything is. This definitely want to be a GRIMDARK book. I do not like grimdark books.

Overall this book was a disjointed confusing mess and I really didn't understand what was going on as it jumped around between time, places and people. ( )
  Maverynthia | Jul 29, 2017 |
The premise: ganked from BN.com: An intricate web of stories weave together to tell a tale of revenge, justice, ambition, and power. Zhan has been sent to find her grandfather, a man accused of killing not only Zhan's family, but every man, woman, and child in their village. What she finds is a shell of a man, and a web of deceit that will test the very foundations of a world she thought she understood.

My Rating

Must Have: if you want a book that defines the phrase "literary, adventure fantasy," then look no further, and I can't stress that enough. It's narrative structure is such that the book engages the reader on an intellectual level, and where the novel might lack in immersion into a secondary world, it makes up for the fact that it's really fun and something of a joy to piece the story together. McDermott's writing, while at times a little too declarative (a function of the narrator rather than a writing style issue, I believe), is both engaging and fast-paced, and the sections allow for quick, brisk reading without compromising its own literary style or characterization. To be honest, this book was an excellent surprise. Let's face it, there's an unfortunate assumption that if it's a debut writer getting published by a small press, then the book just won't be any good. That's an unfortunate and WRONG assumption, and this isn't the first book I've read that proves that assumption horribly, horribly wrong. It's truly a memorable book, the kind you want to go back and read again because once you get all of the pieces of the puzzle, you want to see if you can glean anything new to make the piece fit together in a new or better way. That's not to say the book isn't without its flaws, because it is. It's not perfect, but what promise! And truly, how memorable! I'm thoroughly impressed with this debut, and look forward to whatever offerings McDermott might provide in the future. Fans of fantasy who are looking for something unique and different from the traditional, epic fantasy quest need to look no further, because this is the book you need to get your hands on. Make no mistake, the book makes you think, it forces you to pay attention and put the story together on your own, but that's just part of the joy of reading this book. Definitely not a beach read, and definitely not a read for anyone who just wants to shut their brain off. The sad thing is, though, that this book is out of print, but you've got some options: used book stores (like the online abebooks.com), paperback swaps or you can get it as an eBook (which I praise Apex Publications for making it available). At any rate, this is a book that's not worth missing, especially if you're looking for something both different and intellectually engaging.

Review style: this is a difficult book to spoil, but I may give away details that some people might think is a spoiler, so consider this your warning. However, considering the nature of the narrative, the book spoils you as you go. At any rate, if you're still uncomfortable, there's no need to click the link below. If spoilers don't bother you, click away! The full review is in my LJ, and comments and discussion are always welcome.


Happy Reading! ( )
  devilwrites | Jan 24, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
a bit hard to get into at first, and often feels like it only appears to appeal to a very specific audience, maybe that's because its published by "wizards" - might be better the second time
  jerm | Oct 11, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I just couldn't get through this book. It has promise, but the alternating viewpoints were disconcerting, and it seemed like things just didn't make sense. I read fantasy, so I'm used to reading something I don't understand and trusting that the author will make it clear in the end, but too much of that, and the book got shelved. ( )
  etoiline | Jul 27, 2009 |
This was hard to read for me because the story is very disjointed. I picked this book up a year before but stopped after reading about half. It was hard to follow, because some chapters are without any kind of description and only about five to ten lines of conversation. I need to constantly catch up with the flashbacks and the settings. Some might like it, but this is not a style I like. I picked this up again yesterday and finally finished reading. The ending i think is disappointing, i felt like it is still missing some part, one side character Adel, i haven't figure out her motive fully yet. But this book is still worth reading, is a new style and very interesting and quite challenging. when i pieced the story together, is a good fantasy ( )
  moonight | Jun 4, 2009 |
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In a debut novel offering a saga of justice, revenge, ambition, and power, Zhan embarks on a quest to find her grandfather, a man accused of killing her own family, as well as every other man, woman, and child in their village, only to discover that things may not be what they seem as she uncovers an unexpected web of deceit, treachery, and evil.

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Apex Publications

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