The Dragon Never Sleeps


Glen Cook


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

February 1, 2009

id you ever see a movie preview that was full of wonderful images, such as fantastic cities, or gigantic spaceships? Then when you watch the movie, you realize that the director spent his whole budget on the beautiful graphics and elaborate set designs, while neglecting to hire a competent script writer. The movie looks beautiful, but it is just eye candy - the story makes no sense or has huge plot problems.

I have a similar feeling about The Dragon Never Sleeps. This book is all "idea candy". Any given chapter has some really great ideas; Glen Cook deserves his fine reputation as a science fiction/fantasy author. But this story reads like a movie with four or five script writers - it is a big muddle of a tale, and in the end it is incoherent.

One major flaw with this book is the dozens of characters. I never could keep straight who everyone was, let alone figure out what their goals were. To add to the confusion, some of the characters have identical clone constructs, so not only are we dealing with the evil mastermind character, but we also introduced to copies of the evil mastermind called One, Two, Three. Sometimes the evil mastermind has a conference with multiple copies of himself! To add even more confusion, other the characters can be regenerated from stored memories after they are killed - so they show up again in the story after dying!

The chapters are short. Sometimes a chapter won't even fill a single page. The reader will get a snapshot of a character's actions or thoughts, and then a new chapter will jump us to the next character. By the time the story returns to the first character, I had mostly forgotten what he was doing in the first place. Finally, there are a bunch of alien races, and Cook gives them alien emotions and alien agendas. Cook nails the alienness - I was pretty much unable to relate to these characters or figure out what they were trying to do. I got completely confused by this swarm of characters. I never did figure out what anyone was trying to accomplish, or even if they were successful in the end. I am not using the names of any of the characters in this book review, because I am unsure who the protagonist was in this book, I don't think any one character appears in more than 10 or 15% of the novel. It took me a long time to finish this book, I read several other books in parallel and finished them first; it became harder and harder to pick this book up, because I really didn't care how it turned out.

All those complaints aside, there are some pretty good ideas in this book. Cook describes some epic battle scenes, with monstrous spacecrafts blasting at each other and obliterating planetary surfaces. The evil mastermind executes some excellent double crosses. There is a nice hide and seek description of a sole escape pod trying to elude a fleet of ships that is trying to find it. If you were asked to illustrate this novel, there is an abundance of action and exotic locales to protray. I just wish the story had been better...

I was pretty disappointed by The Dragon Never Sleeps. I have read other books by Cook ( The Black Company, Tower of Fear) and he is a better writer than this effort.