by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
The Dragonbards is the third in a trilogy I discovered long ago. I read the first book, Nightpool, probably twenty years ago and loved it. I found the second book, The Ivory Lyre, some ten years later as a complete surprise (not knowing there were any sequels) and liked it, though not as much as the first. I should have known the third would be a dud, especially coming to it as an adult. This isn't the first time I've had such an experience.
It feels awkward to write about this book when I haven't said anything about the first two, but here goes. A fantasty story about good battling evil, set in a world called Tirror where dragons have recently been rediscovered along with the people who can bond with them, called bards. When the bards and dragons sing they reawaken people's memories and awareness of their history. Evil forces in this world are enslaving city after city to take over the world, using drugs to dull people's minds and make them forget their identities. The hero of the story, Tebriel, and his dragon are leading the forces of good in a battle to drive the evil out of their world. This has all the makings of a great story- wonderful dragons, intelligent talking animals (mainly otters and large cats), a love interest between two close friends who don't realize what they feel for each other until nearly the last page, plenty of action and some magic. There's even a journey through other worlds that connect through mysterious Doors (made me think of C.S. Lewis' pools) But it all fell flat for me. I just couldn't muster up any interest in the story or even the characters, although I remember loving them so well long ago. Even the interesting themes running through the story- how important memories are to identity, or how drug abuse dulls the mind, or how the hero has to battle his own pride and allows himself to be influenced by the Dark side- just didn't work for me. I kept going back to it hoping I'd find it lively again, but no. I was even afraid I'd lost my interest in reading for the time being, what with current stresses- but the book I'm reading now is going swimmingly, so it's not that at all.
No, this book is just lame. It might work for a kid, and I do hope when I go back to read the first two I still like them, but otherwise I'd say skip it. I did end up skimming the last few chapters just to find out what happened in the end, but even that wasn't very satisfying.
Abandoned ......... 249 pages, 1988