Starlighter: A Review

Starlighter by Bryan DavisDragons aren’t real. Mountain bears are dangerous enough with their intelligence, ability to talk and, of course, their eagerness to eat you as much as talk to you. Still, rumors persist of a strange planet called Starlight where dragons rule over enslaved humans–slaves stolen from the planet Jason Masters calls home. Starlight has never been discovered but still hope persists that it can be found, the slaves can be rescued, and maybe the people of Jason’s planet can find their own path to freedom.

Jason doesn’t believe the rumors, but when his missing brother asks for help Jason finds he must trust him and the legends to do his duty.

Koren, a slave to the dragons, can scarcely believe in a world where humans are free. The thought is too far fetched. And too dangerous.

But soon Jason’s mission intersects with Koren’s own work to save her people. Together they might be able to save everyone. Or doom them all in Starlighter (2010) by Bryan Davis.

Starlighter is the first book in the Dragons of Starlight series.

As far as fantasies go this is pretty straightforward swords and sorcery fare with aspirations to high fantasy thrown in for good measure. Jason Masters is a warrior-in-training. Dragons have enslaved humans. Swords are drawn and battles are waged. The story is also concerned with the fate of not one but two worlds (where the high fantasy elements come in).

The problem is that despite those fantasy trappings, Starlighter isn’t really a pure fantasy. Davis also blends in elements of pure science fiction with advanced technology like courier tubes for messages that can be unlocked with genetic material and energy panels.

The blend of futuristic elements with a story focused on a warrior in a world with a strong caste system, with an honor code for how gentlemen should treat women (think chivalry for ancient knights) is jarring. Aside from having a lot going on (dragons, swords, portals, energy panels, and so on) Starlighter‘s mixed bag of elements doesn’t quite mesh.

Davis tries to throw readers right into the thick of the story, but this is one that likely could have done with more set up to prepare readers for odd blend of fantasy and science fiction with a plot that, though starting without preamble, takes a while to really get going.

UPDATE: I figured out what really frustrated me about this book. Basically Davis seems to be trying really, really hard to adhere to standard fantasy tropes with stilted language and swords and what not. But then he throws in all this space stuff. And it’s like mixing oil and water but not in a “look at these artistic circles I’ve made” kind of way but in a way that they just really don’t mesh together. And that’s just the way it is sometimes I guess.

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