Dragondoom by Dennis L. McKiernan
Dragondoom is a strange book. It is simultaneously wonderful and awful. It is the ultimate example of all that is good and all that is bad in fantasy writing. My husband says I only like it because I first read it when I was a teenager, because I was a much more forgiving reader back then. He may be right. So how do I grade this book?
With a sense of humor.
Dragondoom is a story of love and sacrifice, daring and hubris, war and honor, evil and revenge. I give it a 100 for content.
Now I will subtract two points for each overtly ridiculous element.
The repeated phrase “Ye shall reap what ye have sewn” brings it down to a 98. One is far more likely to rip what one has sewn and reap what one has sown. The argument that the book is full of archaic and variant spellings is not going work with me. The author and his editor should have known better.
The overuse of uncommon words like “darkling,” “spume,” and “grume” brings it down to a 96.
The sometimes plodding dialogue and always silly vernacular bring it down to a 94.
“Speakin’ o’ Dwarf enemies, he wos. Said that he whot makes a enemy o’ a Dwarf has a enemy e’erlastin’. Said that Dwarves’ll seek revenge fore’er, ’tis their nature. And that sommun whot was named Sleeth wos still their foe, he wos, and would ha’e been till the stars theirselves died ded.”
Garn, but them Dwarves be a tireless foe!
Its similarities with Tolkien bring it down yet more. Minus 2 for the dragon called Sleeth the Orm who, like Smaug, attacked a dwarven hold and then used it for his lair. Minus another 2 points for having a female character from a horse-centered culture who, when told that no man’s hand can slay a dragon said, “This be not the hand of a Man.”
We now stand at 90 and I believe I have made my point. The book has many flaws, and they’re funny ones. But I am serious when I say the story is beautiful, so I will leave it with an A- rating. It will continue to live in my library and I will continue to love it, warts and all.
Final grade: A-