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OK, I did finish it, sort of.

I turned the pages through the rest of the McCaffreys' Dragon Harper (don't call it a full reading, but I followed the story). It didn't get better, either in writing or plot. The only thought I want to add to my previous criticism is that Todd seemed to me to have done nothing but recycle fragments of Anne's worldbuilding. Harper Hall is breaking the gender barrier by allowing female apprentices. Said apprentices and others are subjected to many nasty tricks by obnoxious fellow apprentices. There's an epidemic and many die. Part of the solution involves dragons doing time travel. (OK, that one was already over-used.) There's not one but two apprentice harpers whose voices have broken and therefore don't fit in well at Harper Hall: one of them becomes expert at drum codes. Haven't I read all this before? Yes, indeed.

OK, two more criticisms. One is that the medical bits make little sense to my admittedly non-medical eye. Much is made of getting the substance that reveals the level of fever if dabbed on a patient's forehead. However, the amount of fever one has doesn't affect the treatment as far as I could see, and besides, the good old "hand on the forehead" technique used by parents everywhere gives a pretty good idea. I could go on.

And the other is that there's just no depth here. All these significant characters die, and I don't care. I haven't developed any bond with them at all. The catastrophe in the archives? That got to me a little more, but then (after dropping it for a while) eventually some of consequences of it were developed in the plot. The great love bond? Seemed doomed (and stupid) from the start, so when it played out that way, I just shrugged.

Bleah. Now I'm done.


Nancy Barber

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