You know, there are some authors who look up to Tolkien. There are some authors who take bits of what Tolkien gave them and put it into their own works. There are authors who imitate Tolkien.
Richard A. Knaak wants to be Tolkien. And he fails, dismally.
This book never seems like it's going anywhere. I've seen Knaak praised because "his ideas never stop coming"; to me, it seems like he hits a lot of dead ends and then throws something ridiculous and unexplained into the pot to send the ride jerking further on its way. He can't think of a smooth, coherent plot, so he puts in whatever comes first to his mind.
Nothing in this book connects. Little of it makes sense. There are some aspects of it which are truly disgusting, like the romance between "the Lady", Cabe, Cabe's dad, and Cabe's grandfather. Talk about insta-love all you like; Cabe remarked how beautiful she was, and then it was never spoken of again, until 200 pages later he falls to his knees and tells her he adores her, and would do anything for her. Uh, dude, this woman was in love with your grandfather, and your father is lusting after her still. Could Knaak's romance angle be any more irritating, abrupt or twisted?
The action seemed disjointed to me; and I didn't care about any of it. And I want to know how a man with furry fingers and a bird's beak, or at least who has a nose that looks like a bird's beak, can repeatedly be called "handsome".
Cabe's hair changed literally from scene to scene. One scene it was a thin thread of silver, and then it was a chunk of it, and then it was half of it, and then it was a single lock of it, and then it was half again, and then all of it, and then just a piece of it--good grief, man, make up your mind! I think he lamely tried to explain this inconsistency in the next book, but I certainly won't be reading it to be sure.
And I can't complain enough about the scene at the beginning, in the bar, before Cabe was anything but Cabe. A shadow-man literally talks to Cabe for the first time, and within five sentences calls him "Cabe Bedlam"--a more pompous name an author has rarely dared to give his MC--and instead of blowing the shadow-man off or even politely saying he was mistaken, Cabe thinks to himself, Yes, that sounds right. I am Cabe Bedlam, of course.
Didn't he have a childhood memory of being called that, once? Or someone mistakenly called him that on the street, once? Something to explain it? No. And there is no explaining the timelines in this book, either; years or days or months, weeks, seconds--none of it is relevant. All of it warps around to conform to whatever the author is speaking of at the moment.
The dragons were all right, to be fair. They were almost interesting. They were, unfortunately, not nearly enough to save the book.