CSFF Blog Tour – Starlighter by Bryan Davis, Day 2

Time, time, there’s not enough time to read all the interesting things CSFF bloggers are saying about Starlighter, Bryan Davis‘s recent release, the first in the Dragons of Starlight series (Zondervan). There are a couple posts, however, you won’t want to miss.

For a wonderful, detailed account of the story, see Jeff Chapman‘s day two post. Also in day two, Fred Warren took a look at how the Starlight dragons compare to others in the dragon tradition. For discussion about the mixture of science fiction and fantasy that seemed to snag some readers, see John Otte‘s day two post.

Me, I’ve been thinking about betrayal.


* * * SPOILER ALERT – Of necessity, some discussion of plot points ahead * * *

On both worlds featured in Starlighter, Starlight and Darksphere, the leaders seem to be corrupt. While giving the appearance of doing what is good for their people, they are actually trying to achieve some particular personal goals.

At this point in the series, the goals are not clear, but my supposition is that rulers on one planet wish for power and those on the other, for wealth. Whatever the reason, they are willing to do unspeakable things to achieve their ends—enslave a group of people by breaking the wills of children, selling children into slavery and lying about it, working against those who would rescue the lost.

How did such greedy or power-hungry people (or dragons) come to positions of prominence? So far the story doesn’t really go there (nor do I think it necessarily needs to), but on one planet intrigue and deception, suppression and assassination seem to rule. On the other, the pretense of following the law is in place, but this is for appearances only. Lies and manipulation and treachery and rebellion are strong undercurrents running through the power structure.

A few observations.

  • Betrayal makes for intriguing plot elements. Thinking of Starlighter in particular, I soon found myself questioning who was on the side of right and who the protagonists could actually trust.
  • Betrayal is something endemic to human nature, so we can all understand it, we can all abhor it. Consequently, characters in dark circumstances because of betrayal, or a misuse of power, are immediately sympathetic.
  • Abuse of power might be a defining element for a villain. Writing instructors often point out that an antagonist isn’t necessarily a villain. He may simply be someone who wants the same thing that the protagonist does. He isn’t evil, but in his efforts to fulfill his desires, he comes into direct conflict with the protagonist. The villain, however, has something else besides a strong desire. He has selfish motives. And he has power which he uses to achieve his personal agenda—which also comes into conflict with the hero’s goals.

I could go on. Lots to consider in thinking about corrupt leadership. But for other insights, discussions, reviews, and interviews, see what the other tour participants are posting (links to specific posts listed at the end of yesterday’s post).

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

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11 Comments

  1. Rebecca, this is a great blog! Thank you for all your hard work in posting such thoughtful commentary. Blessings to you!

  2. This book did seem much more ambiguous than the Christian fantasy books we usually read. It’s harder to identify the bad guys. Is the egg? (I think yes.) Is Koren’s dragon master? (Still don’t know.)

    Interesting post!

  3. Good points, Becky. Can you tell I have been following politics lately?

  4. Also, I noticed a couple of very negative posts among those on the blog tour, and I stayed away from commenting. I would like to engage in conversation, but two in particular seemed too strongly worded, so, although I disagreed and thought I could defend what I did, I decided to pass.

    I am thankful to those who have given positive comments and to those who provided gently worded constructive criticism. I greatly appreciate the time and effort. :-)

  5. I didn’t find the idea that despotic regimes existed on both worlds too startling. Considering the history of our own world, authoritarian regimes can easily arise. I would be curious to learn more about how Darksphere/Major Four’s political system arose, if it becomes important enough to explain in a future story.

    The thought of contemporary politics DID cross my mind once or twice while reading this…:)

  6. Nice post, Becky, and an issue I didn’t consciously engage with but which served to draw me deeper into the story–just when I thought I knew how the good and bad guys lined up, things changed, and I had to reevaluate. I’m still trying to figure out some of them.

  7. Kathi, how kind of you. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Phyllis, I’m with you—I still don’t know where some of those characters stand. It creates an intrigue factor for the next book.

    Becky

  8. Bryan, I actually wondered if your own view of politics was showing. :-D

    Re: negative posts. I probably should remind authors of this possibility in CSFF tours. We encourage honest opinions, though I don’t want to see authors or books trashed. We try hard to feature books that don’t deserve trashing.

    But one thing these tours have shown me is how a book can strike readers differently. Some books I didn’t care for got rave reviews from some members. Others I loved were received with lukewarm endorsement.

    Once in a while we feature a book that receives near unanimous, enthusiastic support. Those are the books I want to learn from because that’s what I’d love to see as a reaction to my writing.

    All that aside, I think you did the right thing not to comment. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an author accomplish anything positive by defending his work to a reviewer. (I have seen some thank a blogger for a negative review, and that has elicited some interesting back-pedaling ;-) ).

    Becky

  9. Jason, I didn’t find the existence of despotic regimes startling. Surprising, perhaps—primarily in regard to Darksphere. At this point, it would appear those leaders who know about the portal and are hiding it, are complicit in the slavery of some of their children. This is the ultimate of betrayal—more heinous, in my opinion, than the dragons doing what they need to do for survival.

    Fred, you’re usually the one that sees things I hadn’t noticed before. I’m loving your posts.

    Becky

  10. Betrayal is certainly rampant in both worlds. I gave up trying to follow the series of double crosses that Jason endured at the hands of the castle guards in the early chapters. Fortunately understanding those machinations was not essential to following the story. I think even the Byzantines would have been shocked at the treachery.

    After capturing Jason, Magnar states that they will find out if he is a true emissary. Not much more is made of this in Starlighter but it suggests that Magnar is somehow in contact with the leaders on Darksphere. Are the leaders on Darksphere hoping to sell extane to the dragons? Magnar is not someone I would want to make bargains with.

    There are lots of storylines to look forward to in the next volumes.

  11. Becky,

    You’re right about the negative reviews. I’ll just leave them alone. But I have tried to comment on all the other blogs. I couldn’t figure out how to comment on Chawna’s. She did a good job with hers. Maybe my browser doesn’t like her blog, but I couldn’t find a comment button.


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