3 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
The Yellow Birds is the debut novel of Kevin Powers, a veteran of the Iraq War with an MFA in Poetry. The book enjoyed billing this past season as the first great literary fiction to emerge from this war, but it seems many reviewers graded it on a curve (presumably) because of its subject matter and source. Politics aside, The Yellow Birds is not this generation’s war classic. It is, however, a new author’s formidable display of talent and potential – a tight, lyrical first chapter followed by a fractured narrative of 10 more chapters, much of it beautifully written, some of it problematic. Powers proves his enviable ear for language, and applies it well in many places, but overall the work lacks cohesion, and the lovely lyricism can be overwrought, especially when it stands in place of clear plot points and authentic characterization.
4 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
Dragonmaster is a fantasy war biography of a man caught in a huge conflict similar to either of the World Wars who rides dragons while fighting. Most of the familiar medieval swords-and-sorcery fantasy trappings are present in this novel, from wizards to knights, with the notable exception of any non-human fantasy races or monsters aside from dragons. The book follows the standard format of a war biography; the protagonist outlines various excerpts of his life that are particularly interesting or significant to the war effort, but skips over most of the mundane day-to-day doldrums of the war. I found the style well suited to the fantasy genre, and the execution overall was quite good. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in fantasy warfare, but dissuade anyone from reading it who is drawn to the fantasy genre for its more fantastic imaginative elements. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I will definitely be picking up the next two.