A dragon and a modern setting walked into a bar. Now Henry, ex-military and his brothers’ shadow, has to extract Rick from said bar. And by bar, I mean Ireland. That’s almost the same thing, right?
In some ways, Shadow Above the Flames felt like a retelling of the Hobbit. Except there was a small military group instead of dwarves. A data core instead of the Arkenstone. No kingly madness, but the brothers overcame differences that had them distanced.
I liked the fact that the author got creative with the modern setting. Mutated squirrels, lizards, and other animals caused problems for the intrepid heroes. Besides the dragon, that is. It managed to separate the novel from common fantasy stereotypes. They were still there, just presented in a way that they didn’t feel overused. The setting also served to offer some great solutions to the conflicts. Plot devices were well thought out. They allowed for unique situations. I liked how the story itself progressed. Things occurred in a logical manner, and at the right time. Not too fast or too slow. There was quite a bit of action, which served to make the story feel fast-paced. Everything served a distinct purpose to further the plot.
Dialogue and narration were a little awkward and clunky in some areas. That, in turn, made character interactions a bit forced and unnatural sometimes. Narration and dialogue also had the same tone on occasion. While it was universal, changing the tone could have enhanced reader experience. Description favored telling rather than showing. It doesn’t have the whimsical voice that a lot of fantasy novels have. Which, given the setting, worked out in its favor for the most part. The reader still gets a very good vision of what’s going on.
Henry and Rick, as characters, felt fleshed out. They’re noticeably different at the end than at the beginning. It felt like a little less attention got paid to the minor characters. That didn’t do a whole lot to detract from the story itself, though. As a whole, they were all good.
I did have one or two questions left at the end. There was a pretty awesome epilogue, so if we’re lucky, there might be future installments? It sets things up to get a whole lot more dangerous. I’d love to see where it manages to go, and what kind of world the author is creating.