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.
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).


4 Hearts-Pretty Good

4 Hearts-Pretty Good