R&R Review Tuesday: Kragan by Dennis K. Hausker

Stand-alone to date
Goodreads Blurb:
Prince Damon competed with his younger brother Prince Tabor to be crown prince, but Tabor bested him in the final contest. Thereafter, Damon feels his life has no meaning until stunning Beth rides into his life fleeing the great trauma of her life. Fate is not done with Damon who is forced to overcome self-pity to become the person he was meant to be. Their world is threatened with destruction as the vast barbarian horde, the Argore, suddenly invade the lowlands from their mountain realm. Damon, shackled with doubts, strives to become that better man, trying to win the love of Beth, but her disdain and personal focus on revenge thwart him time after time. Is it him she rejects? Does her heart belong to another?”

Thank you to the author, Dennis K. Hausker, for gifting me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This is one of those books that has one overarching thing that I didn’t like that affected the whole book.  So, while it is just one thing, it still affected everything so much!  Let me explain:

1.  The world.  There are two aspects to a world in a book: macro and micro.  Macro refers to the overall world: the landscape and the feel.  Micro is more of the characters and how they interact with the specific settings.  This book had general issues with both types.  Although this is just one thing, it’s the one overarching issue that tarnished the story a bit for me.  I’ll explain what I mean.  In all of the English and writing classes I’ve ever taken, it’s been drilled into my head that you have to show and not tell.  This book told.  In this way, I felt very removed from the story.  However, this can be brushed away as the style of the writing.  Some stories are simply told as stories.  What really bothered me is how the world was developed.  Meaning it wasn’t really.  This story had the potential to be something great like LOTR but it just didn’t have the world-building.  I’ll address this in a couple of sub-bullets.

a.  The larger world.  The larger world is really under-developed.  I couldn’t picture any of the land or the plethora of towns that are mentioned and where they are in the grand scheme of things.  I couldn’t get a feel for how large of a city Kragan was and the book consistently sent mixed signals.  Sometimes, the city was a hostile place where there were poor everywhere.  And other times, the king is praised for his deft handling of the poor population so there isn’t really one.

b.  The micro.  This aspect was okay.  The micro world, like I mentioned before, has all of the characters interacting with the settings.  I frequently found myself wondering what places looked like because there weren’t descriptions of practically anything.  If the descriptions were there, they were very vague and didn’t cover the scope of the setting.  In my opinion, settings are more than just a vessel for the characters, they impact the characters in profound ways.  The one setting that’s wonderfully done is the forest where Damon (our MC) and his friends train.

2.  The dialogue.  This point is sort of related to the world-building.  Settings impact the characters and the dialogue’s reflect that.  When I was reading this, I found myself wondering where the other people disappeared to because the characters would have conversations that would be better if they took place in privacy and, conveniently, the other characters in the room would disappear and reappear as soon as the conversation was over (but they were still in the room – they just disappeared from the descriptions).  That aside, I really liked how the dialogue was used to further my understanding of the characters.  It also felt very real.  It was probably my favorite thing of the whole book.

3.  The characters.  Again, my feelings for the characters are mixed.  On one hand, I really loved the characters themselves.  They were interesting and all had good backstories that really made them 3D.  I loved how we get to see how the characters change over the course of their journey and that, slowly, certain kernels of information were revealed that told us so much about the characters.  However, the same thing from above is applicable here.  In general, the characters were told to the reader and not shown.  You know how you just get a feel for a character after being in their head or listening to their thoughts for a while?  You start to feel what kind of person they are.  In this book, that does happen, however it’s told to you, rather than felt which does take away some of the wonder and connection.

Okay, this turned out to be really long!  I’m going to just wrap it up now… 🙂

The Final Verdict:
While it may seem like this book disappointed me, my feelings are far from disappointment.  I really liked this book.  The one thing that touches each part of the book, though, is the need for more.  More development, more description, more depth.  I feel like I have to rate this book 3 stars because of that single issue that tarnished an otherwise spectacular story.
3 stars

“You are your own worst enemy”

“‘Not every choice we make in life is a good one'”

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