TPG Reviews: Blood of Requiem, by Daniel Arenson
Overwrought, tedious and unpleasant. Not recommended.
(Also, spoilers. Don’t say you weren’t warned)
Long ago stood the kingdom of Requiem, a land of men who could grow wings and scales, breathe fire, and take flight as dragons. Requiem ruled the sky.
But Dies Irae, a tyrant leading an army of griffins, hunted Requiem’s people, burned their forests, and shattered their temples. Requiem fell. This ancient land now lies in ruin, its halls crumbled, its cries silenced, its skeletons littering the burned earth.
In the wilderness, a scattering of survivors lives in hiding. The griffins still hunt them, and every day promises death. Will Requiem’s last children perish in exile… or once more become dragons and fly to war?
My rating: 2/10
I’ll start with something good: the prose. The prose in this novel, from start to finish, is downright great. I could always easily picture what was going on and could easily get into the heads of characters. I don’t even recall seeing any glaring typos of mistake – something of a rarity among indie books, sadly. From start to finish, this is a book which screamed professional.
But my problem with Song Of Dragons isn’t in its writing. Instead, my problem is in what that writing sets out to convey. The story in Song Of Dragons is just so unbelievably broken, in fact, that not even the best prose in the world could have saved it. Well, in my opinion, at least. Judging from Amazon and Goodreads, many would disagree.
A particular problem for me was the lead villain, Dies Irae. Irae so extremely, irredeemably, one-dimensionally EVIL that he drags down the whole novel simply by existing. Irae rapes, tortures and kills countless bystanders over the course of the book, to the point where such scenes quickly became dull. By the time I reached the reveal that his boots were made from children, I’d long since stopped caring about his exploits or, indeed, the book as a whole.
Not that the heroes are any better, mind. None of them are defined by more than a handful of attributes, nor do they develop in any meaningful way. Benedictus, Requiem’s exiled king, is particularly bad in this regard. He spends more-or-less the entire book cursing himself for sparing Irae in the prologue, only to do the exact same thing when he finally gets another chance. I’m not sure why, really; obviously, the plot said so.
And speaking of the plot…there basically isn’t one. There’s lots of one-on-one-hundred fights, lots of running away and not really much else. It was actually pretty exciting at first, but by the end…no. At various points, a character would monologue over their goals and motivations, sometimes in their thoughts and sometimes out loud; this, needless to say, was exciting at no point at all.
Blood of Requiem was an experience akin to watching a badly-performed play, with the actors hamming it up constantly and not even once pausing for breath. It was a…different experience, certainly, but not one I would care to repeat.