As a writer myself I always remember story writing lessons at school. We were taught how to plan our story in advance with three simple steps:
- Synopsis – A breakdown of the basic plot
- Characters – Names and descriptions of each major character
- First sentence – Open with something that instantly grabs your reader’s attention
And it’s this third step we were always told was the most important because the reader will have made their mind up about whether they will like the story in those few words. And so that made me wonder, was Robin Bennett in Mrs Bolton’s English class circa 1987? I ask this because, while Space Dragons doesn’t open with something as classy as, say ‘Pride & Prejudice’ or ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’, as mysterious as ‘Nineteen Eight Four’ or ‘Beloved’ or as outrageously shocking as ‘Lolita’ or ‘The Crow Road’, what it did do was exactly what I was taught. It made me sit up and pay attention, and more importantly, it made me look forward to reading the rest of this book.
It wouldn’t be too much of a spoiler for me to share it here, what with it being right at the start, but to do so would rob any potential readers of the surprise and joy of reading it for the first time – something one can only do once, and I think it best to do so in the context of having the book in one’s hand. What I will say is that in one sentence we are introduced to our hero in a wonderfully humorous fashion, but humour that’s not at the expense of story or intrigue. The opening sentence refers to something that’s often said every day (hint: it’s about underwear) but is twisted in such a funny and fantastical way that you can’t NOT want to carry on to find out where it’s going to go next.
But enough about that brilliant opening line – there’s much more to Space Dragons than that.
So What’s It About? Dragons in Space, Perchance?
Well yes, the dragons do play a major part in the story but first, we are introduced to our protagonist, the introverted Stan Pollux. All twelve-year-old Stan wants is to be left alone in his room to play computer games, gaze at the stars through his beloved telescope, and for his little sister Poppy to stay out and stop taking his stuff. When Poppy breaks the telescope Stan attempts to fix it and he sees something through it which he should not have. After attracting the attention of the Space Dragons, interdimensional beings with awesome powers who protect our world from dark forces, Stan and Poppy are thrust into an adventure which sees them travelling to the far reaches of the solar system.
Wait? Dragons? In Space? Really?
Yep – that’s right. Not only are these dragons from space, but each of them also represents a planet in the solar system and a deity from ancient Greek and Roman (and a touch of Norse for good measure) mythology. The metallic, talkative Mercury who humans once worshipped as the messenger of the gods, the brash, fiery Mars the Bringer of War, Venus, the God of… well, she won’t say in front of Stan or Poppy because they’re not old enough for that kind of thing just quite yet. Over this short novel (it took me about 3 hours to read it in total) we’re introduced to many more fantastical beasts whose attributes and powers match the celestial body and god they represent.
So It’s About Ancient Mythology Then?
I know what you’re thinking. “Haven’t series like Percy Jackson and Thor already done the whole mythology in the modern day thing?” Yes, they have, but not quite like this. Mythology only plays one part in the story. Astronomy and geography of our solar system are equally as important here, and the story is every bit as much a space opera or astronomy lesson as it is an epic fantasy.
What Did You Think?
While I was conscious a lot of the time that I was reading a book aimed at around the ten to twelve years old age group, I never felt talked down to. In fact, often I found the writing as intelligent and articulate as any so-called adult literature (not that kind of adult literature, you saucy rascal). Once I was immersed in Stan’s world I found it to be a well-written story which transcends age boundaries. It might not be for everyone (it’s a space adventure with dragons, after all) but I’d recommend giving it a try if mythology, outer space, science fiction or fantasy are of interest to you.
To Sum Up…
A witty dialogue filled, exciting adventure with enough history, science and folklore to make this stand out from other similarly themed books. Pre-teens will lap this up, especially if they like space and/or dragons. If you’re looking for an entry point for your kids into the darkly humorous fantasy worlds of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams or Neil Gaiman then you could do far worse than Space Dragons.
About The Author
Robin Bennett is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children, adults, and everything in between. Listed in the Who’s Who of British Business Excellence at 29, his 2016 documentary “Fantastic Britain”, about the British obsession with fantasy and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, and his first book for young adults, Picus the Thief, won the Writer’s News Indie Published Book of the Year Award in 2012. Robin is also a director at Firefly Press.
Giveaway to Win 10 x Hardcover Copies of Space Dragons – UK Only
*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter website. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.