Fragment One: The Placid Shrubberies



Circuits lined the preserved carcasses of countless dinosaurs. Like monuments of the past, the mechanized fossils surrounded an entire chamber of medieval architecture, still and cold and dead (page 9).

Probably worth pointing out that carcasses and fossils are not exactly the same thing.

We learn more about this room. It’s frigid. It hasn’t been touched in ages. Insert terrible joke here. But in the middle of the room there’s a floating glowing Mobius strip for reasons that I truly hope Eng will explain.

Space could be seen where the strip’s light met the stone, and every star of the cosmos twinkled like a watcher, a spectator of time (page 9).

How can we see outer space if we’re inside a stone room?

A female says that they need to get out of there. A male wonders about the sentry. They argue back and forth. Shades of thesaurus abuse, it’s been half a page and I’m getting Paolini vibes already. Using pretentious words does not make your writing better, Eng.

The two creatures of apparently different genders agree to head to the Pedorian forest, and we learn their names are Lyconel and Dradicus, although we don’t know which belongs to which. Some quick googling tells us that there are people using those handles to play League of Legends and World of Warcraft. Some part of me really hopes they are online handles for Eng himself. If, you know. He’s not in prison.

We cut forward. Trees are floating above the Everkin Forest. And the writing here…it’s impressive. I haven’t encountered this level of mastery of the English language since the Eye of Argon.

Upon the Mesozoic verdure, the sun cast its dawn light, giving life to the hovering woodland realm in the form pf photosynthetic vitality that sparkled betwixt the morning arbor (page 10).

I don’t even know what to fucking say to that.

Down below, though, a wingless dragon is hauling ass through the “placid shrubberies”, which would make a good name for a barbershop quartet. This is Lyconel. Two dragons are chasing her, tearing through everything in her path.

Rapidly, they were catching up, as quickly and menacingly as one’s own shadow (page 11).

Personally, I’ve never felt menaced by my own shadow, although to be fair, I’ve never had a problem with my shadow needing to catch up to me. We’re rather attached.

After a bit, Lyconel trips. She rolls over immediately and pulls out a spiked mace. She deflects a few blows and then takes off running again. After a bit she gets up to the top of a tree and looks toward a mountain chain with the stereotypical name of the Fangs of Astinor.

She ducks, just in time to avoid a rapier. I’m not sure how she noticed a skinny piece of metal about to hit her but not a huge fucking dragon flying towards her, but I haven’t done as much research into how sentient dragons might fight each other with swords and semi-automatic firearms as Eng has, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.

The other dragon slashes at her. Okay, maybe you should take my opinions with a slightly larger grain of salt than Eng’s. Rapiers are not slashing weapons. That is not how they are designed and not how they work. You thrust and you try and stick the pointy end in the other person.

She keeps running and they keep chasing. Things start exploding. Plasma shots are fired at her. Wait. If her pursuers have guns why haven’t they shot her ages okay instead of fooling around with mishandling rapiers? Okay, the bad guys – assuming they are bad guys – are officially idiots and will pose no threat in this book.

Suddenly she sees an entrance of a cave open up, and with minimal hesitation she dives inside and scurries underground.

The two pursuers stop outside. They don’t follow. A moment later there’s an explosion of flames made of darkness, which sounds scientifically impossible. A dragon emerges from the dark light. It’s called Drekkenoth, and it’s official: I fucking hate the names in this book.

“Is she annihilated?” inquired Drekkenoth (page 13).

Use “said”. And don’t use words like annihilated. Dragons don’t talk like that.

The wyvern, Arxinor, and his behemoth colleague, Gorgash, processed the question within their mechanical heads. Gears and circuits turned out in their brains (page 13).

Wait a second…are you telling me this book isn’t just about unexpectedly verbose dragons fighting each other with anachronistic weapons…the dragons are CYBORGS on top of all that?

They exposit to each other that the Key still exists and their next objective will be to reach the Archive sentries, identity Dennagon. I’m not sure why they’re expositing all of this since all three of them seem well aware of the facts they’re discussing, but it’s helpful.

“We must make certain that the Lexicon is demolished,” he declared. “In time, time shall be oursssss.” (page 14)

Got it. So three cyborg dragons are trying to destroy a dictionary so they can gain control of time. I’m on board.


  8 Responses to “Fragment One: The Placid Shrubberies”

  1. Weird. I’d love to see r.stanek ‘cover’ this, incidentally. The material’s interesting, just needs putting in safer hands.

  2. Two sporkings in a week? We are indeed blessed. 🙂

  3. I feel like somehow I’ve been waiting a long time for this ever since I heard about this book all those years ago. Also Kenneth Eng is nuts.

  4. I’m getting the feeling already that his prose is about as subtle and elegant as being struck repeatedly with a hammer is.

  5. The worst part is, I think, that sentient dragons with modern weaponry are pretty badass. In the arms of a skilled author, this could be something amazing. Alas, we get this.

  6. For some reason this reminds me of Crossgen. That was pretty badass, shame it got cancelled.

  7. Me Grimlock refuse to read this shit!

  8. It’s weird seeing a writer who has a weaker grasp of prose than Stanek.