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Book one of the Dragonlands by Megg Jensen

Book Review: Hidden

This is a very interesting novel – thanks Megg.

I am reading a lot of self-published works at the moment as I gear up for my own foray into the world of indie authoring.  This popped up as a highly rated proposition in the epic fantasy kindle store, and I couldn’t refuse the draw.  So that’s how I found the book. Simple really.

And with a title like ‘Dragonlands’, I had a rather clear idea as to what the theme of the book was going to be.  It turns out that I was very wrong, which was extremely refreshing.

The more I think about writing (and in fact the more I think about any form of story-telling medium), I wonder whether the best tales are woven from rather isolated situations.  This is certainly true of some rather great comedy (Red Dwarf for example puts four ‘beings’ alone in deep space), and great examples from literature include 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Even Lord of the Rings can be considered isolationist through the eyes of a hobbit in a big bad world.

So, in this vein, as you start Hidden, it becomes abundantly clear that isolation is a key part of the story; and this is great.  What we then get is isolation within isolation, because our protagonist is even alienated within her own narrow-scoped boundaries.  This, combined with some interesting rules on breeding, creates some lovely friction between the key protagonists – if ever there was a solid basis for a good story, eh?

Now, as we tread through the tale, we find ourselves inevitably broadening our scope as the protagonists break out of their hiding.  What we find beyond the veil is very interesting, and certainly strange.  Even here, it is not a dragon novel as I expected.

There are also some great uses of seemingly harmless references, which gather more weight as the book moves along (or approaches the climax certainly).  Honey is a fine example – it seems incidental until the end of the novel, and this intrigue alone leaves you eager to read on (I will be purchasing the second book to find out more!)

Now, there is lots in here that is rather ‘fantastic’, and in a fantasy novel that is to be applauded – the monsters in the woods; the tree ‘guardians’; the strange relationship between dragons et al.  However, there were moments that I was less keen on.  Our protagonist, Tressa, needs to infiltrate an order of meticulous warriors, and it may just be me, but the path she takes just seems a little bit too … far-fetched, even despite her expert tuition.  Megg is very careful to write this part of the book with the utmost consideration and care, ensuring that the threads hang together (and they do), but it was just a smidge outside my comfort zone (though to be clear, this does not constitute a turn-off – I still thoroughly enjoyed the book).

So, what are we left with after this very entertaining ‘breaking out’ novel?  Well, a world that looks rather intriguing, and the very real prospect of a big ol’ fight with dragons to boot (obviously).  What’s not to love about that?  And, it will also be interesting to see how Megg’s style develops as the scale of her narration changes in future volumes.

So, all in all, Hidden is a book well worth reading – very enjoyable and well written.

Actually, one thing I did find annoying – the base font on the kindle e-book was quite a bit smaller than usual, so I had to up the font size quite substantially, which was a bit of a pain if I had to switch between books.  How petty does that sound?  Symbolic of a good book perhaps, if that’s all I can find to moan about.