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.