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review 2014-07-27 16:20
Dragon's Bait by Vivian Vande Velde
Dragon's Bait - Vivian Vande Velde

There is a big difference between
- A romance written in a fantasy setting; and
- A fantasy novel with romance in it.
Most authors do not write a well-balanced story with both elements – to use a famous example, Harry Potter is heavy on the fantasy and very light on the romance. (Unless, of course, if you’re reading fanfiction.)

Dragon’s Bait is neither. It is a story of a girl and a dragon, and as a fantasy novel it is a total fail, because the world-building was not well thought out at all.
- You get a vaguely Middle Age setting, during the time of wide-scale witch hunts. Because for some reason the best way to introduce your main characters to each other was to sacrifice the damsel in distress to the dragon.
- You get a total of ONE dragon, who is a special snowflake of a character. He has special shape-shifting powers.

"Can all dragons change to human shape?" He paused, as though considering how much to tell her. "No," he said, "Only gold-colored dragons have magic."

Which is just strange. You could’ve said that
- Dragons have been blending in amongst humans, pretending to be the same
- dragons could turn into human and have been keeping this ability a secret. Use your imagination. I could think of at least 5 reasons why.
Instead, no, only Selendrile has the ability because he is blonde. Great.

And also, you get inexplicable dragon biology.

I have to be a dragon come dawn or I'll die."
"Why?"
"Why?" He sighed, sounding more tired than exasperated. "Why can't you soar on the wind? Why can't you breathe underwater? Why can't you she'd your skin and turn into a butterfly?"
She didn't understand.


Because Alys is a foolish girl, and Selendrile is one irritating bastard who is always undressing himself in front of her for laughs.

By the light of the torches she saw that his hair was the color the mane had been, palest gold, and it hung almost to his waist. Alys jerked her gaze back up to the face, for she had suddenly—finally—noticed that he wore no clothes. For the first time, the purple eyes flickered with emotion: amusement.

He is always finding amusement at Alys’s expense. And if she was as feisty as the author would’ve liked us to believe, he would not have gotten away with this behaviour half so many times.

"She was flirting with you," Alys explained, lest he think she was laughing at him. "She liked you."

For some reason Alys thinks that a dragon who is
- over 300 years old
- could shapeshift into human form at whim
does not understand the concept of lust/romantic attraction. Right.

The one good thing I could say about the romance it that it is not instalove. The love is implied rather than expressed. But I do not like the characters and I don’t see their attraction to each other being anything deeper than a superficial level.

"Of course I saw you. I wasn't interested until you began to act out of the ordinary."

Speaking of which, “acting out of ordinary” in this case consisted of Alys throwing rocks at a flying dragon when she was supposedly tied to a stake.

Apparently the villagers forgot to tie her hands.

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