First Impressions of Here, There Be Dragons

220px-Here,_There_Be_Dragons,_James_A._Owen_-_CoverSo, I have recently been inspired by popular author James A. Owen. Pretty much everything about this man is inspiring, including the story of his life as he presents it, how he focuses on his dreams, how he rises to meet great obstacles that crash into his path, and particularly how he shares his story and the lessons he’s learned with everyone he can, just to help them out a little. While I am a terrible student, in that I am not certain how to apply the lessons he has shared to my life, he has certainly earned my admiration. So, when I had the chance to get my hands on one of his books, I couldn’t wait! I went with Here, There Be Dragons, the first novel in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series.

That would be a little over a month ago, right after Christmas. I really must thank Santa again for that Amazon gift card, which allowed me to purchase several novels in digital format and download them to my kindle. 🙂

I read Words of Radiance first, followed by Skin Game and Blood of Tyrants, mostly because I already knew what those works were, and was just too intrigued not to see how all those characters I already knew were doing. In that respect, Here, There Be Dragons was more of an experiment. I know the author, the man, is admirable, but what of his written works? I only bought the first one, not wanting to purchase the entire series until I was more familiar with it. Also, there were several series and authors I wanted to try out, so I had to spread my Christmas funds while exercising some prudent restraint. I’ll probably mention all of them on this blog in due time, but, as I just began Here, There Be Dragons, I wanted to share a few first impressions.

Note: this is not a review, and certainly not a complete one. Just some musings about the first… (double-checks my place) …three chapters.

First: apparently, illustrations do not translate well into kindle format. When I was reading Words of Radiance, I was really wanting a hard copy, thick and heavy and with proper-sized illustrations to enjoy! This is even more true with Here, There Be Dragons, because sometimes the text just ends, one paragraph hanging with empty space below, because there wasn’t room for the illustration on that page, yet they’re still too small to appreciate. I am both amused and sad about that, because I like appreciating the artwork, and it is quite nice to look at, so it’s a little disappointing to see them too small for this, but something about those paragraphs hanging alone in the empty space reminds me of a little puppy begging for a treat. (hey, I live with them, so the image just sprang to mind) It’s just a small imperfection, and not at all the fault of James Owen, but I can tell this is going to be something I roll my eyes at throughout the whole of the novel.

Moving on to something about the work itself…

It’s an interesting writing style Owen uses. I could swear he’s writing in something like an older style. Not in a bad way, but in a way that reminds me of the novelists I read when I was younger, like Jules Verne, L. Frank Baum, Jack London, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, etc. Considering the initial setting, that of London in 1917, and the premise that all the imaginary worlds from literature actually exist, then this is, particularly if Owen chose this style deliberately, absolutely brilliant. At the very least, it’s conducive to setting the scene.

It’s also very unique. I’ve yet to hear one concrete descriptor of any of the characters. We’ve had literary comparisons to describe the appearance of their clothing, but nothing about them. It has thus far been left utterly to our imaginations and a few illustrations. I can only guess that the first female protagonist we meet is very easy on the eyes, as one of the young men is totally enraptured with her at their first meeting.

Most of what I’ve read for the last… long time… can be so vivid with descriptors of people and places and everything else that it comes dangerously close to that line between “enchanting” and “annoying.” I am, after all, reading for the story, not the descriptions. Three chapters in and it’s already proving a new experience, or, at least, one I haven’t enjoyed since the days of my youth, which is as good as “new.”

Only one real complaint thus far, and it’s a small one. The perspectives can change rather quickly and be over in a moment. It’s like seeing something just barely at the corner of your eye and you know it’s important, but it’s gone before you can turn and get a better look at it. Or catching just a whiff of something delicious, but you can’t go see what’s cooking just yet. It’s both maddening and really good at the same time.

I don’t think I’ll be spoilering anything (three chapters in, after all) when I say that this uniquely-flavored story, beginning with a murder and soon sweeping three young Englishmen into an adventure which spans worlds as they’ve been put in the cross-hairs of a mysterious, dangerous entity bent on world(s) domination, already has me slavering for the next chapter!

Fortunately for me, I can just turn the page on my kindle!

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