Sunday, October 24, 2021

 

I've finished reading Distopia by Robert Kroese.


This novel is book 2 in the Land of Dis series and seems to be a prequel to the first book. I haven't read the first book and I picked up this one for only 99 cents. It was money well spent.

Our protagonist Wyngalf is on a proselytizing mission for his little known faith. He soon finds himself voyaging to a distance shore from which no ships have returned. Along the way, he encounters the green dragon Verne, a runaway girl named Evena, and an erudite outcast goblin who is given to the study of philosophy. The goblin may be the most sane character in this story. 

The narrative, in my opinion, is Candide with dragons and goblins. The book has been compared to Prachett's work, but I enjoyed it more than I cared for The Color of Magic. Like Candide, Wyngalf (or Simply Wyngalf) is a naive character who faces frequent challenges to his religious and philosophical views. That is to say, they are challenged to the extent he has ever considered them. 

Wyngalf and Evena meet Verne upon a rock in the sea. I found the first encounter with Verne to be hilarious. Eventually Wyngalf's destiny, or at least what he thinks may be his destiny, pits him against Verne and a major city controlled by the dragon. Evena's home also becomes subject to Verne's wrath, or extortion racket. Of course, I'm holding a lot back because I don't want to spoil the book for you. The adventure takes exciting twists and turns with various characters passing across the stage as aiders and abettors, conspirators, and bit players. The entire matter comes to an exciting conclusion with plenty of destruction, and wrap up of the character destinies. 

The production is light on description and heavy on dialog that is both interesting and germane. A few scenes are well defined by colorful description, but usually the specific setting emerges in broad strokes so that the reader's imagination can supply most of the backdrop. That works well for a novel that is about dialog and ideas, and less about what color flowers and leaves might be, how many bricks are in each layer of the wall, or which mast, sail, or line on the ship is at risk. 

I did find the goblin's sheltered life and limited experience incompatible with his depth of knowledge regarding philosophy and the workings of the human shipping and governmental systems. I was also a little puzzled by some aspects of the dragon's initial introduction. However, it all contributed to the humor and the plot of the story, so I didn't let it bother me. Although Distopia is an adventure with action and conflict of all kinds, the discovery of ideas and issues of government and the right of self-determination, including how the road to tyranny can be paved with good intentions and notions of expediency, rise above the action.

Overall, I highly recommend Distopia. I give it four and a half out of five "best of all possible worlds."

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