3 out of 4 stars
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The Dragon Inside: BECOMING A DRAGON, book 1, by A. Sapegin, translated by Elizabeth Kulikov, is a time machine. It has the power to transport a reader into another dimension of magic and wonder.
In it, Andy Kerimov, a modern-day Russian teenager trips into a wormhole and finds himself in a place that looks like a prehistoric forest with bizarre animals. He thinks he has been transported to another country—maybe America. It is only when he sees the rising of two moons he realizes he’s not on earth, and his sojourn in a strange dimension of elves, gnomes, orcs, and humanoids, begin. Andy stumbles upon roving mercenaries who overpower him and take him into depraved captivity. He suffers much and is harmed by an evil and ambitious elf who inflicts a magical, death-heralding affliction on him. Andy liberates himself eventually and frees an old, captive, black dragon. Together they escape to the old dragon’s lair. There, Andy meets an ancient witch—a motherly elf who possesses great magical powers and herbal skills. She discerns that Andy will die unless he undergoes a grueling incarnation ritual to turn him into a dragon. He survives to becomes a powerful shape-shifting, winged fire-breather respected by many. He never forgets his earth-home, however.
I regard this novel an outstanding example of expert literary crafting. The author’s syntax is simple and straight-forward. He has chosen a style of writing that doesn’t need a dictionary at hand-reach despite a multitude of odd words and names from a supernatural dimension. Despite this, the inferences of strange words/names in this narrative are easy to grasp. As a wonderful bonus, however, there is a an easy-to-access glossary. As for pace, instead of short chapters, the narrative is broken down into long ‘parts’ under which are subsections that move the story at an eager pace. The language used throughout this novel is simple and unpretentious. As for the novel’s characters, each is adequately outlined with an appropriate backstory befitting each character’s role in the plot.
This book is—forgive the cliché—a page-turner. The author offers a ringside seat to magic, to wonder; to conflict and to a lot of action. Treats abound in this story: The details of the metamorphosis through which Andy changes into a dragon, are engrossing. This novel will delight your imagination and drag you, uncomplaining, to its very last page; and there it will leave you hungry for more. What is neat is that this volume stands well on its own and feels complete though you know there are other volumes to come.
How do I rate this book? It earns the unfortunate loss of one star for something that probably happened in translation or typesetting: a violation of the timeless literary rule of ‘new speaker, new line.’ This is found at the very beginning of Part One: Portal Voyager, in the dialogue-sequence between Andy and his mom; in that little bit, it courts confusion and mild irritation. For the rest of the book, however, it earns three crisp stars for solid, outstanding storytelling. The Dragon Inside: BECOMING A DRAGON, book 1, by A. Sapegin, translated by Elizabeth Kulikov, is a fictional treat for every lover of high-fantasy in the vein of J.R.R. Tolkien. I give this book 3 out of 4 stars.
Becoming the Dragon
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