Official Review: Draconian Symphony by Benjamin Dempsey

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ViziVoir
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Official Review: Draconian Symphony by Benjamin Dempsey

Post by ViziVoir » 05 May 2018, 22:26

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Draconian Symphony" by Benjamin Dempsey.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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It's very rare that I get to describe a book as "interesting" and mean it as a compliment. Draconian Symphony by Benjamin Dempsey is such a book. It follows Draco, a self-styled mage with the ability to channel fire, as he travels with a succubus going by the rather on-the-nose name of Lascivus, a living sword named Drakkengard, and other equally outlandish companions. Together, they roam Hell and the lands beyond, mostly carrying out life-threatening favors for the Devil himself.

In my opinion, this book's best aspects are its writing style and characters. It is told from various characters' perspectives, and each is distinct enough to identify even without being explicitly told who is narrating. Draco is deliciously sardonic, and his humor through wordplay and cavalier attitude towards life-threatening situations are what drive the story. Lascivus, in contrast, has a very different set of priorities. Her pride and impatience serve as foils to Draco's more laidback demeanor, and despite her character flaws, she never becomes annoying or unlikeable.

While it is set in the distant future, Draconian Symphony draws upon inspiration from several religious texts. In reconciling these, Dempsey creates an elaborate lattice of power struggles supercharged with both magic and science fiction elements. Nothing about the book is realistic, so readers overly concerned with well-researched science fiction and conventional fantasy elements will be disappointed. However, the outlandishness of the setting is simply part of its charm, and no element of the worldbuilding ever feels out of place or forced.

There are two main areas in which this book falls short. First, the writing, while unique, was also sometimes difficult to follow. It swaps between past and present tense very frequently, often even within the same sentence. Draco's propensity towards wordplay and his tendency to black out could get confusing, sometimes meaning that I needed to backtrack just to understand what was going on. Second, the story's direction is somewhat lacking. Some characters simply seem to become irrelevant, particularly Draco's mother and sister, and others, like the living sword he travels with, hardly get any development. This means that the book often feels as if it's simply bridging the gap between battles. While the fight scenes themselves are the focus of the book, and they are quite well-executed, other elements of the plot seem to be simply discarded.

Dempsey's style of prose is certainly intriguing, though I can see some readers becoming frustrated at how meandering it can be, and the book has undeniable shortcomings with regards to its editing and overall narrative. Ultimately, though, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Draconian Symphony. Its writing style was captivating and unique, as were its characters and worldbuilding, so I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. I would recommend it to those who enjoy unconventional writing styles rife with wordplay, as well as plot elements inspired by religion, who don't mind some structural shortcomings. I can't help but think that the book would especially appeal to fans of the video game Doom. People sensitive to sexual topics and excessive gore should not read this book.

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Draconian Symphony
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kandscreeley
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Post by kandscreeley » 06 May 2018, 11:11

So, do you think the slipping between past and present was a mistake or done on purpose? Because I think it would annoy me. Between that and the content just not quite being up my alley, I think I'll pass on this one. Thanks.
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Post by AmySmiles » 06 May 2018, 13:28

Not something I'm interested in, but thanks for the review.
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Post by Libs_Books » 06 May 2018, 14:48

I can cope with an unconventional writing style when I think it's being done deliberately, but I'm not so sure about slipping between tenses. You do succeed in making it sound quite intriguing, but I'm not a fan of video games or gore, so - much as I enjoyed your review - I think I'll pass.

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Post by DathanReeves » 06 May 2018, 15:48

Do the religious elements get confusing since, from what I'm gathering, they're all mixed in one melting pot?

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Post by Kat Berg » 06 May 2018, 15:55

The slipping between tenses and the constant wordplay would drive me nuts. I can enjoy some element of wordplay, and the cover and the title would be enough to cause me to pick up the book, but other elements of the book would make me give it up pretty quickly.

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Post by joshfee77 » 06 May 2018, 19:39

This book certainly sounds like an interesting idea, which on its own appeals to me. However, reading further into your review, I was disappointed to hear about tenses changing, and the editing and overall narrative not being up to scratch. That sort of thing can be annoying to read. Otherwise, I think I would have enjoyed this one. Good review, thank you!

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Post by ViziVoir » 06 May 2018, 21:40

kandscreeley wrote:
06 May 2018, 11:11
So, do you think the slipping between past and present was a mistake or done on purpose? Because I think it would annoy me. Between that and the content just not quite being up my alley, I think I'll pass on this one. Thanks.
Honestly, I think it was an error. I can see it being a stylistic choice even if it was different between sections of the book, but within the same sentence is rather questionable. I can see why the content wouldn't be something many people are interested in, too.

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Post by Jkhorner » 07 May 2018, 08:26

Hm. I was right on board until you mentioned the lack of character development and excessive gore. Simply can't handle that right now. Thanks for the interesting and thorough review, though!

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Post by Amberlily » 07 May 2018, 12:27

Wow, this book did sound really cool until the issues with the changing tenses were brought up. Shame since the story sounds awesome, and I don't mind a bit of gore in the books I read. I have played Doom before so I think that's a good way to describe the level of violence within the book. It's really tempting to read but... I'm not sure if I could get passed that tense issue. Thanks for the informing review!

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Post by SABRADLEY » 07 May 2018, 21:46

I really can't say how I'd feel about switching tenses or the meandering writing style, but I do know having characters or subplots drop off the radar unexpectedly would irritate me. The theme of the book sounds a little dark for my taste. Thanks for a great review!

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Post by arcie72 » 13 May 2018, 01:54

This book sounds interesting. I like the fact that the author has included religion. The addition of religion to hellish environments always makes for good twists and turns. I am willing to give this book a try even with some of the negative remarks.

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Post by maggiechap » 18 May 2018, 13:17

This sounds a little DnD to me, or maybe I just know to many DnD players who would figure this out. lol, but I like the concept and the character ideas. I'd love to check it out for myself and see if it really is as well executed as it sounds. Thanks for the review.

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Post by Txangel0213 » 22 May 2018, 17:22

Thank you for the great review. Aside from the tense changes, which I can overlook if the story is right, I find the religious aspect, darkness, and overall story line intriguing and look forward to checking it out. I personally have no issues with sexual topics and gore, and sometimes feel that they add to the story, especially when the tale is dark. Thanks again for the review. I will be adding this to my list of upcoming reads.

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Post by Nyambura Githui » 23 May 2018, 05:40

I'm usually on board about any book that mentions magic, but the shortcomings of the book you have mentioned have decreased my interest to read it, especially the slipping between tenses.

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