Review: Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past by Paul Cude

A Threat From The Past New Cover (Reduced)Title: Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past
Series: Bentwhistle the Dragon
Author: Paul Cude
Genre:  Fantasy
Source: Author
Published: 2014
Format: E-book
Buy Links: AMZ/SMW/BN
I received a free copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

AMZ Blurb:  Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them.

Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past?

Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes?

In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile!

You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.
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Case File: Intense World building/Emphasis on Sports/Strict Good& Evil Mentality/ No Villain Speech/
Rating: 4 out of 5

Benwhistle the Dragon in a Threat From the Past was an entertaining read that a had very clear view of the world it was part of, sometimes a little too clear but it was the strongest point of the novel. It emphasized sports quite a bit but some of it was crucial to the world-building so it’s fine. The novel was a decent read.

Peter Bentwhistle is a dragon disguise as a human who lives in London, England with his best friends, Tank and Richie. Peter is a protagonist who sees the world in black and white because he has very clear standards about what people should do and not do like he doesn’t drink because people act like idiots when they are drunk (which is true but not always) or he doesn’t use his dragon abilities to show off. He has a good moral compass. Tank is built like a tank but is a softie who works for Gee Tee (an old man who develops mantras (spells)). Richie is the female of the group who is reckless (aka: Fun) with her dragon abilities. Richie comes off as frivolous person because she dismisses Peter’s concern about Manson from the start;Richie and Peter seem to have a rocky relationship, Peter seems to judge her for leading morally ambiguous life because she drinks and her uses her dragon abilities in public. Tank is a sweet-natured guy who agrees with Peter more than Richie but he doesn’t really grow as a character, perhaps because he is under-utilize. He is intelligent and excels at channeling mantras, a very useful skill to have in a magic-ruled world.

The good guys are good guys, there is no ambiguity about them. The bad guys like Manson, Troydenn, Osvaldo Rosebloom, and Theobald, well, it’s clear that they are the bad guys because they are one-sided characters. Troydenn the dragon commits heinous crimes against humanity but only speaks to declare vengeance upon the Dragon Council and he doesn’t explain why he did what he did. The novel is missing the epic villain speech that smoothly reveals the motivation behind the villain’s action instead we have Peter’s speech to Manson which resembles the speech Harry Potter gives to Lord Voldermort at the end of Harry Potter and the Order  of the Phoenix  with the vibe of “I feel pity for you because you will never understand love” or something like that. There is no red-herring in the novel. Manson, from the beginning gives Peter the creeps, and Peter turns out to be right about him. The villain is too simple, probably because Manson is not the driving source of the world domination plot but may be a high-ranking foot soldier.

The world-building is one of the most fascinating aspects of the novel (but it also hinders it). The first three chapters have an intense amount of detail about the dragon world. It explains the two forms of the dragons, mulation (human form) and solitus (dragon form), the mantras, nursery rings; it’s very intense which is great because it develops the world of the characters and explains to the readers how this world will function. It’s not so great in later chapters when the plot is developing andCude stops the plot in order to give a history lesson about the origin of Sandskimming which is great to know but not crucial to the plot. It shows that Cude has truly developed his dragon world down to minor details but as long as the reader understand the premise of sandskimming as a sports activity, it’s fine to move on without explaining the origin in great details. Now Laminimum Ball which is another dragon sport which has a Global Cup tournament which makes me equate it with soccer and its World Cup tournament, needed an intense explanation because it’s quite important to the characters and the dragon society.  The complex underground living of the dragons is just beautifully detailed because it’s a functioning society mirroring London, it has geothermic energy as a power source which is clean energy (which emphasis how environment friendly dragons try to be), and the Daily Telegraph newspaper as a telepathic newspaper contributes to showing Cude’s dragon world. It’s a society that lives side by side with humans and keeps its existence a well-kept secret.

Remember that I said Peter acts as a good moral compass, well, it’s not just Peter but rather his whole society that functions to guide and protect humans (which is ironic because the dragons don’t really guide people, not Richie who humiliates two drunken men by using her dragon abilities to beat them in an arm wrestling game). The Dragon Council states that is the purpose of the dragons to guide humans away from harm or evil which actually make the dragons seem like they are morally superior than humans because they know what is best for the humans and it is the dragons’ fault when humanity goes astray from the right path. It was dragons who introduced tobacco to humans as way to destroy them, it was evil dragons but nonetheless, the dragons sort of treat the humans like children who have to be taught right or wrong. The trace of resentment is even apparent in Peter, who is morally good, when he goes on a tangent about drunken humans, he is disgusted by their behavior, fighting with each other, their lost of bodily functions, their drunken behavior making people afraid of each other. His showdown with Manson, it’s not about protecting the humans but rather Peter fights to protect the dragon world. I find it to be a fascinating aspect of the world-building Cude has created in showing how the resentment from babysiting human appears and how subtle it can be at times that not even a morally right person like Peter can see that he does not like humans at times.

Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past has some of the best world-building that I have read in a while. Paul Cude knows very well what his dragon worlds looks like and he will showcase it to the readers even at the risk of slowing down the novel’s plot. Yes, the showing of the world slows downs the novel but it is very fascinating how the dragon world came to be and how it co-exists with the human world. Peter, Richie, and Tank are distinct characters that hopefully grow more into themselves in later novel. I just really want a more complex villain next time (or a villain that I don’t immediately know is the villain as soon as I meet them).

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4 Hearts-Pretty Good

4 Hearts-Pretty Good

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Guest Post: Awakening by Laura Greenwood

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                                  Why Sleeping Beauty

Growing up I liked Sleeping Beauty because Aurora was closest to Laura in sounds (silly I know) but even so she wasn’t my favourite Princess; that prize goes to the Little Mermaid or Rapunzel, which probably makes it slightly odd that I chose Sleeping Beauty.

The whole idea came about because I was a part of a Halloween short story blog hop. Basically Awakening just came to me (it was that or a ghostly masquerade idea that I had), that idea developed and became what it is today.

In the original short stories I wrote there were other fairytale characters included, Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Snow White, but they didn’t make an appearance in the novella because of the tone change, instead they were replaced by Hansel and Gretel (whose story I am writing now).

The thing about fairytales is that the female characters tend to be quite meek and not really much more than beautiful with voices like angels, and a part of that wanted to turn that on its head. I don’t think Keira (the main character in Awakening) is anywhere near there yet, and she is a bit dependant on Philip, but that is probably what someone would be like if they had a sheltered life and then slept for a long time. The difference with Keira is that she is the centre of the prophecy, despite the fact that someone else chose the path, she is the one that has to be strong enough to fulfil it.

And that is partly where Gretel comes in, you don’t see much of her in Awakening but I had to put a strong female character in there, even if I’m the only one that knows she’s strong (though she is constantly bossing Hansel around!)

Basically I just think that fairytales are magical, but there is so much potential to make each retelling different!

Book Info:

Awakening Novella CoverTitle: The Awakening
Series: Alventia # 1
Author: Laura Greenwood
Genre:  Fantasy
Source: Won in a Giveaway
Published: Mar 2014
Buy Links: AMZ US/AMZ UK

Blurb from Amz:

Cursed before she was even born, Keira is destined to either be the greatest Queen that the Kingdom has ever known…or the Worst. On her 18th birthday she falls into a deep sleep, if she awakens naturally after 100 years then she will be as human as she was before, but if she was awoken before then the consequences will be vastly different…

When her destiny is one of two opposites, which path will Keira’s life take her down. And what choice will she have in the direction

About the Author:

Laura is a self confessed book and tea addict, you will rarely find her without one or the other (and often times both) even when she should be doing work towards her degree! Laura’s been reading from a young age, and has been writing for years, though Awakening is the first thing she has had the courage to publish!

Follow Laura Greenwood on her Blog, Facebook, or Twitter

Review: Trinity Blood # 1 by Sunao Yoshida

Title: Trinity Blood # 1
Series: Trinity Blood
Author: Sunao Yoshida
Artist: Kiyo Kyujyo
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural
Source:My Library
Publisher: Tokyopop, 2006
Format: Paperback, 176 pgs
Buy Links: AMZ/BN/TBD

Blurb from Amazon:
In a dark and distant future, Armageddon has giving rise to the fabled Second Moon–and a perpetual war between the vampires and the humans! Esther is a nun in the city of Istavan. When she crosses paths with Abel Nightroad, a priest sent from the Vatican to combat the local order of vampires, the two form a holy alliance to battle the most evil of threats: Gyula, the leader of the vampires. In this gorgeous, gothic-action series–part of the super-popular Trinity Blood franchise–the very survival of the human race is at stake!

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Case File # 1- Vampires/ Sympathetic Villain/ Adorkable Android/ Hot Priests/ Uniforms
Rating: 4 out of 5

Vampires and Religion, always a good combination. Add in a stoic robot, it’s even better. Trinity Blood deals with a war between Methuselah (vampires) and the humans (or Terrans as the Methuselah labels them).

Father Nightroad is a priest who is adorkable because he is clumsy yet well-meaning but he is a special being which is reveal early on. He is the goofball that is a badass when the situation calls for. Sister Esther Blanchett is a young nun who is waging a war against the Methuselah because they are vampires (and killed her family). She is a weak character that needs to be save…repeatedly. Hopefully, she grows into herself because she has an interesting quest ahead of her. Dietrich, a German teenage boy who is more than he appears. Father Tres Iqus, the adorable android priest who is hilarious because his “search reveals no definitions” for the nicknames that Nightroad throws at him and he is an amazing gunslinging fighter. Between them and most scenes Father Nightroad is involved in, there is comedic gold. There is a  Lord Gyula, the Methuselah, who is in charge of Hungary and is planning on destroying humanity with the “Star of Sorrow.”

The plot is to stop Lord Gyula from destroying humanity, specifically Vatican City because they are the representation of humanity, Lord Gyula is a sympathetic villain because his reasons for wanting to destroy humanity are driven from heartache. He is tragically human in his behavior and his desire to  use the “Star of Sorrow” (a weaponize satellite) is understandable. Yet the war complicates the use of “Star of Sorrow” because of its origins as a sign of lost technology, love, and hatred and it is so entwined with the backstory of Lord Gyula that the name of the satellite makes sense. As you can see, I kinda really like Lord Gyula and the villain speeches he gives are amazing.

It has an interesting world-building setting in that there is a hierarchy of feeding. The Crusniks feed on Methuselah who feed on the humans. The Crusnik appear to be rare form of vampires and almost godlike is Lord Gyula’s reaction is accurate. There was a small view to a rival faction to the Vatican who want to destroy Vatican City and humanity, they remain unnamed but maybe next volume will reveal more. They look like quite the evil mastermind if the puppeteer was a glimpse into their power. The puppeteer, a little sadistic but intriguing. There was not a lot of religious discussion going on for priests being involved.

The artwork is amazing. The architectural details are really great, especially the close shots of the churches and crosses. It tends to be dark and heavy with a gothic feel but there are beautiful drawn scenes with light gray. Father Tres Iqus is a great drawn character because it is amazing how a hat can change a person’s appearance. What I really love about the art is how it uses shading and light/dark scenes to portray ambiguous scenes of morality like Lord Gyula’s introduction is in black shade but the last scene he is in there is hardly any darkness in it, very light shading which shows Lord Gyula’s character growth in the book.

In the end, it was a good manga. Very similar to the anime . It has very serious moments but it is also has comedic undertones, it is funny. Looking forward to the next volume.

4 Hearts-Pretty Good

4 Hearts-Pretty Good