Have I mentioned how much I hate this book? I do. I really, deeply, passionately hate this book. It’s worse than pretty much everything.
There’s a lengthy, incredibly pretentious paragraph of description because that is really what this book’s target audience enjoys:
Like dental protrusions of a leviathan mouth, the peaks ranged the terrain into the horizon, sharp to their very tips, whetted like they had been carved recently (page 199).
I don’t think that’s too much to ask that anyone who uses “dental protrusions” instead of “teeth” or “fangs” be smacked with a thesaurus and then banned from ever writing again.
Second…the ENTIRE FUCKING PURPOSE of using a simile is to help put a specific image in the reader’s mind. Example: “He stood perfectly still, like a statue carved of stone.” Most readers have seen a statue before, and statues, generally speaking, don’t move. Using that simile helps the reader understand the scene the author is trying to convey. Except no one, on the face of planet Earth, has seen a leviathan mouth before. On top of being pretentious purple prose, it accomplishes exactly nothing.
We learn that none of the characters care about the scenery they’re trudging through, so on top of being incredibly stupid, the paragraph of establishing setting doesn’t even matter to the in-story characters.
Lyconel asks Dradicus if he can see if there’s a safe place to camp ahead.
“That depends on what you mean by ‘see’. I can ‘see’ it in my imagination, but does it exist if I cannot observe it?” (page 200)
These characters remind me of infuriating college students who have read a few books and now try demonstrate their superior intellect by deliberately misinterpreting casual conversation until someone straightens them out with a crowbar.
Some nothing happens until Lyconel reveals she’s been lying to Dennagon all along: she didn’t bring him because of his “status” as a sentry, whatever the fuck that means.
“I took you because of your mind,” she resumed. “The consciousness that guided the beginning of time also built the linearity of temporal flow, thus creating destiny. However, it still kept within itself a timescape in which all the World’s events were unbound.” (page 200)
Lyconel didn’t lie: she never told Dennagon she wanted him because he was a sentry, she offered him the chance to come with her to save everything and he agreed because the dragon city of Drakemight had just been Hiroshima’d and he had nothing better to do.
Now, to translate the PretentiousSpeak into normal prose…whatever Being created the universe made time flow like a line, which somehow created destiny, which doesn’t make any fucking sense, and how does Lyconel know this? In addition, the Being kept a “timescape” (which isn’t a real word, so who the fuck knows what it’s supposed to mean?) where events were free to happen. Essentially, characters ramble about things in a way that deliberately sets out to make them impossible for readers to comprehend, or the exact opposite of what any decent writer should do. But if I’m understanding this correctly, and I’d like to think that I’m not…the universe’s “god” created Destiny, meaning free will doesn’t exist, except maybe not.
This has really helped my understanding of this novel.
Ballaxior randomly shows up and explains that he was ambushed, although it’s not established by who or what happened to him or why they were separated or how he found them, all relevant pieces of information you’d think they want to know or might make them mildly suspicious [PLOT POINT], but it’s quickly glossed over because the main characters are fucking idiots. They all move into the Tongue of Astinor, whatever that is, and make camp. Dennagon fixes his sword while Dradicus reads a book and they have a lively debate on what words and names are, in the grand scheme of things. It’s thoroughly uninteresting.
They move on to the Lip of Astinor, where they find exactly what you’d expect: a castle that resembles a giant motherboard.
Lined with circuits, generators, factory systems and missile silos, its yellow, shimmering walls hybridized a cybernetic military compound with a fortress of the middle ages (page 210).
You’d think they’d put their circuits and generators and missile silos inside the fortress, out of sight and slightly more difficult to hit with a ranged weapon, instead of on the outside, but then again I’m not a genius like Eng.
The drawbridge opens and humans start marching out. Apparently this castle is surrounded by a moat of molten gold. For the uninitiated, gold has a melting point of 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit, which sounds like it might cause some problems for the people inside the castle, as well as be impossible to maintain. Ignoring that: there are thousands of these humans.
The EVIL dragons, Arxinor & Gorgash, are watching. They tell the humans that the “dissidents” have the Key and to go to Omega Pole and kill them all.
Dennagon squinted his eyes (page 213).
Really, Eng? Compared to, for example, squinting WITHOUT using your eyes?
Nomax wants to kill them. According to the text he “requisitions” this, because of course he does. He tries to attack but is immediately subdued by the other dragons. It’s incredibly stupid:
Nomax roared and fell on his side, only to be met by another clobber over the head (page 214).
“Cease!” prescribed Ballaxior (page 214).
Fortunately, if the humans did know they were watching, there would have been an immediate onslaught (page 214).
A giant orb comes out, and it’s awful. There’s a horrible voicing screaming from inside it, and it projects a Feeling:
The awfulness was so intense that the sound caused tongues to taste diseased vileness, the skin and genitals to feel all the terrors of rape, and the nasal parts to scent the most horrid odors of all (page 215).
A tornado pops up. Lyconel says that the portal to the Lexicon is at the “eye of the vortex”. They start flying toward it but have some trouble navigating because of, you know, the storm. But eventually Dennagon gets close and thinks it looks a bit like a black hole, because it’s a black hole. I’m not a physics major, but I think a black hole appearing just outside the Earth would suck in the planet and crush it like a potato chip, very quickly, but that’s me expecting realism.
Lyconel grabs on to Dennagon’s neck – she can’t fly, remember – which doesn’t explain how she can jump over and grab his neck when he’s flying through the air – and he dives into the black hole. She takes a moment from thinking about the horribly destructive storm they’re inside and whether the black hole is going to kill them and meditates about her special place and then strokes Dennagon’s spine and has some romantic thoughts run through her mind. She’s even about to kiss [!!] him when suddenly they see some “thunderbirds” – essentially giant hawks – guarding the entrance to the black hole. They exchange some useless dialogue and the thunderbirds attack.
The thunderbird hurriedly swiped him in the face several times, its claws not quite powerful enough to penetrate his crystal skin, but still sharp enough to draw blood (page 223).
I…that’s not how skin works, Eng. If you are able to draw blood it’s because you have, even if only slightly, penetrated the skin.
Cue fight scene. It’s really fucking stupid. The dragons use hand weapons as ranged weapons. We get some stupid quotes:
“Hissss!” she seethed through her clenched fangs (page 225).
“You can’t hit what you can’t miss!” she taunted (page 228).
I think Eng was hallucinating when he wrote this chapter. I know it feels like a bad acid trip, and I’m just being forced to read it.
Anyway, the dragons kill the thunderbirds and they all meander through the black hole.
Inside is the Omega Pole, constructed of completely smooth plastic that doesn’t even have friction. They make their way through this, with a few hilarious mishaps, to a gate to the Lexicon Tower, which looks like a medieval stone tower, but is incredibly tall. As they walk, they spend more time debating pointless minutiae. After a few pages of Eng pretending to be wise, Lyconel “accidentally” drops her weapon on Dennagon and then wraps her tail around his and…I swear I’m not making this up:
“Do you also believe in love…” she started hesitantly, “…at first sight?” (page 238)
Gag. Also, Lyconel hasn’t expressed, inwardly or outwardly, the slightest bit of interest in Dennagon, and they have been together for a while now.
Dennagon shuts her down quickly.
“I don’t trust books by their covers or whelps by their faces.”
Lyconel gasped. She had just unveiled her inner most sensations and had been rejected faster than an electron’s revolutionary period around a nucleus (page 238).
They finally arrive at the door and spend some time checking their weapons.
Lefius found a pouch amongst his things that contained a collection of bestial teeth, which he used as bullets in an emergency such as this (page 240).
Teeth make horrible bullets. They’re not remotely aerodynamic, so they won’t hit whatever you’re shooting out, and they’re not designed to fit the gun you’re firing, so they wouldn’t even work unless you were firing an old-timey blunderbuss, which none of them are.
They look at the gate, which is covered in inscriptions they can’t read, and this naturally leads to a debate over the meaning of words and speech and language that accomplishes nothing, except making me feel stupider after spending several minutes trying to decipher Eng’s meaning. Just once, I want a character in this book to start bloviating about something random and another character to respond with “Shut the fuck up, you pedantic blowhard.”
Dennagon reaches out to touch the doors but they automatically open before he can make contact. Inside, there’s a giant fountain made of molten silver. Dennagon touches it and it starts getting much taller. Suddenly they hear the sounds of enemies approaching. Turns out Nomax betrayed them all. He attacks. Dennagon slows him down by throwing his sword at him, which is a smart thing to do with your sword, but it gives Lyconel enough time to turn Nomax into paste with her machine-gun.
Then Technoknights start charging in the door. Cyborg knights. The Technodragons Arxinor and Gorgash are also present, and there’s a big fucking fight scene. Lefius bites it rather quickly. The Technoknights attack with their assault rifles and rocket launchers, which is odd, considering a page ago they were armed with swords and lances, but as I’ve mentioned on a few occasions, consistency is not one of this novel’s strong suits.
The knights fire thousands of bullets towards the dragons, but the dragons are able to deflect the bullets with their own firearms. I’m sorry, Eng. GUNS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY. If you try to deflect a bullet with your gun, your best case scenario is you end up with a ruined gun, and the most likely scenario is you end up with a working gun and a gaping bullet hole in you since the gun, compared to the profile of your body, is comparatively small, and why the fuck am I even trying to explain to Eng how stupid this is?
So the fight goes on. Dennagon and Dradicus get blasted outside the gate, and then the technoknights slam the doors shut. Meanwhile, Ballaxior slowly combusts into flames, turning into…
Drekkenoth baronial in dread revealed himself, the ultimate doppelganger and future king (page 251).
Yes! Turns out the enemy was one of them all along!
Lyconel kills Gorgash, but she’s quickly overwhelmed by the rest of the technoknights, who knock her out and drag her after Drekkenoth, who is very pleased with himself, since Lyconel, Dennagon & Co. opened the gate for him and now all he needs to do is destroy the Lexicon.
With any luck he’ll succeed.