Does fiction stuffed full with pleasant characters bore you?

Book abandoned on bench

Those of us who have studied the craft of writing have been told repeatedly that if nothing changes in a scene, then that scene has to be abandoned, thrown away. Something must happen, we are told. Either an event which advances the plot. Or a character in the story must end the scene feeling entirely different from the way she felt at the beginning.

Writing professors constantly remind us that the whole point of the scene is to either to advance the plot or to illustrate character. There is a good reason for this piece of advice ~ preventing the reader from becoming bored. After all, if nothing is really happening they might throw your book down and pick up another, leaving a less-than-positive review in the process.

And this is where TWO DRAGONS, Volume Nine of the CIRCLE OF CERIDWEN falls down, because too much of it consists of these scenes where nothing happens. And even when something does occur, like the arrival of a Dragon Ship on the shores of Gotland ~ an event which nearly scares Ceridwen half to death, partly because her pretty sixteen-year-old daughter is put into horrifying danger ~ the whole problem is too-quickly sorted by Sidroc, with the aid of the ever-faithful Tindr.

Perhaps the problem with this volume is that the characters are too pleasant. There are no arguments. There is very little tension. Ceridwen’s mother-in-law is so friendly. Lady Pega the new bride of Hrald of Four Stones is so agreeable. Ceridwen’s mother-in-law plays table games with her, all the while praising her. Pega, princess of Mercia becomes fast friends with her mother-in-law Aelfwyn, Lady of Four Stones. Both of Hrald’s ladies settle into a happy tranquility, all the while praising each other.

With the death of Ashild, there is no-one who is willful, bad-tempered, or frustrated to provide fodder for the conflicts which every writing professor will tell you is essential to keep the reader engaged.

Until we meet Lady Dwynwen, the niece of the King of Ceredigion in Wales, and the intended bride for Edwin, Lord of Kilton. 

Lady Dwynwen may only be fourteen years old. She may be slight and child-like in appearance. But she has the power to throw everything into a turmoil ~ which she proceeds to do at the very end of this novel. She is just the character this saga needs ~ unpredictable, willful, and with no regard to law or custom. I look forward to getting to know her better in Volume Ten. Four stars.

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