So, one of the problems inherent in having a runaway international smash hit bestselling novel — a string of words I never thought I’d type in that order — is that, eventually, it finds its way into the clutches of readers who don’t like it. Not that they don’t like the book itself; they don’t like — and this took me by surprise, because I didn’t realize that such people existed — swords.
I’ll give you a moment with that one.
There are people reading fantasy — and even reviewing fantasy — who don’t like swords. Or fighting. Or any of that military kind of stuff.
This is fine. No, really; it’s weird to me, but it’s fine. Except that, in Dragon’s Trail, everything — the worldbuilding, the plot, the character development, even the chemistry between some of the characters — resides in “that military kind of stuff.” It’s a fantasy technothriller, so those complex technical aspects are where the story happens. On top of that, swordplay drives damn near the entire novel; I specifically wrote it that way. That pesky allegory thing, again. Even the big showdown between the protagonist and his nemesis is a fencing match, only with words. So when Dragon’s Trail finds its way into the hands of readers who don’t like swords, well, you get the idea. They bleep over the fight scenes, which, to be fair, makes the book about thirty pages long. And then they complain that they didn’t see any worldbuilding, or character development, or, you know. Plot.
It bears mentioning, here, that The BookLife Prize — judged by reviewers from Publishers Weekly — gave Dragon’s Trail a positive review last week specifically because of the technical details and fighting, citing “immersive detail and hold-your-breath battle scenes.” Go, team.
However, a couple of days ago, Dragon’s Trail ended up in front of a well-respected reviewer on YouTube, who absolutely hates fighting and swords and technical terminology. She left a two-star review on Goodreads, and, all things being equal, a really nice and quite fair one, stating — aptly — that if you like these kinds of books, it’s probably a pretty good book. And she’s right; if you like swords, and technical accuracy, and fast-paced thrillers, it is a pretty good book. However, it’s not everybody’s thing, and this, dear reader, is where the wheels came off. A couple of you (and I do love you all, you lunatics; you are my tribe) jumped down her throat immediately, leading to a pile-on from her fans, which led to some strident messages from me to those of you who had taken up arms, and it appears to have more or less sorted itself out, now. I appreciate you taking it upon yourselves to come to my defense; I also appreciate you toning it down at my request. I implore you to not do it again. Some people are not going to like Dragon’s Trail, and that’s fine. The book is now big enough to look out for itself.
There is a hardcover coming out in a month or so, along with a redesigned paperback — your paperback is now a “first-run collector’s edition” — and the new jacket specifically states, “Dragon’s Trail is written for mature audiences and contains graphic depictions of violence.” I wasn’t sure if I wanted that disclaimer on there until yesterday. I hope it helps. Because, damn.
In the meantime, and to avoid these kinds of kerfuffles in the future, Oxblood Books has developed a simple, 10-question personality quiz to determine if this is a book for you. Don’t get me wrong; you’re free to read anything you want to read. But if you’re on the fence about my work, or you just like personality quizzes, give this a whirl. Let me know how it turns out. Also, I’ve enabled public and Facebook comments on the blog, because what could happen?