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07 August 2014 @ 08:31 pm
The King's Dragon by Una McCormack  
Another Who novel and my feelings about these remain unchanged. This pretty much maintains the standard set by The Way Through the Woods. So it has a nice central idea, a little less Who-ish this time since it relies on they kind of World-building that modern Who is less keen on - a low tech, but highly peaceful society and an apparent dragon that creates gold - and then works strongly with the themes provided (in this case, the nature of desire via the character's various reactions to the Enamour metal) and provides a set of characters which refuse to be reduced to simple black and whites. There's also a cleverly humorous reveal towards the end in terms of the nature of the Regulator's people.

So why, I have to ask myself, do I continue to be dissatisfied with these books. They are not the Virgin New Adventures, I suppose, which for all their flaws had a sense of excitement and wild invention about them as the fans relentlessly took control of story. But in the case of The King's Dragon I think my issues were that characters could switch very quickly from being friend or foe, mostly underscored fairly heavily with the point "well people are not that simple". With more space I wonder if the shades of character would have been more delicately drawn. Similarly, some aspects of the story are very cursorily explained, such as Hilthe's initial resistance to the allure of Enamour and ultimately I was left with the feeling there was a better book trying to break out of the constraints imposed by the range.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/123060.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on August 7th, 2014 08:00 pm (UTC)
I've only read three new series novels. They were OK: fun, but very disposable, but very clearly for children. I was glad I got them for £1 each and doubt I would buy more unless they were similarly cheap. And I never much liked The New Adventures or the other pre-2005 novel ranges, so I'm not nostalgically longing for "the good old days".
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on August 8th, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC)
I get a very strong sense from then that things are being kept simple for children, but its hard to put my finger on what exactly gives that impression. These two Una McCormack ones, in particular, are well put together.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on August 10th, 2014 10:54 am (UTC)
Well, one of the books I read was full of toilet humour (mind you, so are some episodes of the TV series...). Generally, I found the plots more simplistic and the characterization thinner than on TV or even compared to the better Target novelizations.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 10th, 2014 03:45 pm (UTC)
That's my impression, but I find it hard to back up in several ways. A plot doesn't need to be complex for a book to be adult, and at least in these cases the characters are not completely cardboard - I wonder if the working is just a little too visible somehow, so the reader doesn't get to observe the nuance of character for themselves but has their attention explicitly drawn to it.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on August 10th, 2014 04:03 pm (UTC)
From what I remember, the books I read did have cardboard characters. There was also a lack of thematic depth; one had a bit of a (hackneyed) 'religion vs. science' theme, but I don't think the others had much in the way of a theme at all, although I am going back a couple of years and might not remember properly.

There is, I suppose, a more general question of what makes a book a children's book as opposed to an adult one. In an era of crossover fiction and different covers for different audiences that's probably too big a question for a blog comment...