Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Lucan

Lucan by Susan Kearney
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's review
Aug 26, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: review-copy, romance, 2009, apocalyptic-or-post-apocalyptic, fantasy, paranormal, not-worth-it, sci-fi
Read in September, 2009

Sometime in Earth's future, the human population faces its biggest disaster ever: every man and woman is all now sterile. No child has been born in a generation, and the species is on the brink of extinction.

Lucan Rourke is an archaeologist who has long been on a mission to find the Holy Grail - and cure Earth's ills. A chance discovery while in England leads him on a new path: an ancient star chart clearly shows a distant moon named Pendragon - and a place on that moon called Avalon, where the Holy Grail is said to be.

Backed by a powerful and wealthy investor, Lucan travels alone to the moon and spends a few years learning the language and fitting in before using falsified documents to land a place on the team that is trying to broach Avalon's shields. Avalon is a giant stone obelisk on shaky ground, and time is running out for the people of Pendragon - who have their own legends and their own need for the Grail. Lucan's knowledge of ancient British runes enables them to crack the code and drop the shield - only to be betrayed by Pendragon's military.

Beautiful Lady Cael is a Dragonshaper and High Priestess, and a member of the team trying to find the Grail. It is death to so much as touch her - but Lucan, an off-worlder, doesn't know this. His flirting and light touches warm her lonely heart but she has long since been resigned to her revered and feared position as dragonshaper. Now the two of them are the only survivors of the military's attempt to take over the hunt for the grail - aside from the scientist who betrayed them and one other, Rion, who helps them with warnings.

Fleeing the scene of the military's attack, Cael changes into a dragon and rescues a badly injured Lucan - but now accused of murder, the two must run for their lives and find a way past the military to the Grail. Things are even more complicated when their growing attraction gets in the way of Lucan's mission - and he learns secrets about Cael and himself that will change everything.

This is a pretty ambitious set-up really, and not all that easy to summarise. A mix of Arthurian legend, fantasy, science fiction, apocalyptic fiction, and paranormal romance, it can be bizarre at times, bordering on the ridiculous. I'm not a big fan of the Arthurian Legend and I tend to avoid books about it - I would honestly never have bought this one myself, but it was sent to me to review.

There's plenty that I would otherwise enjoy, though: romance and fantasy and apocalyptic fiction. The problem is, this novel stands on even shakier ground than the obelisk called Avalon. It is set "in the near future", but would have to be a considerable amount of time in the future for Lucan to travel in a small and technologically-advanced spaceship without losing any time (despite landing on a few other inhabited planets along the way) - since little time passes for those like his sister, waiting on Earth. Yet, twice it mentions King Arthur's time being "fifteen hundred years ago" - which would set the novel during our time, since King Arthur is 6th century.

The star chart is never explained, and the link between Pendragon and Earth - and several other planets - is pretty vague. How these people once travelled across the galaxy without any kind of craft or space travel is apparently explained away with the use of canons. Yes, canons, connecting Pendragon with Stonehenge. Again, very loosely implied but not actually explained.

Pendragon itself is a vague place, where the people seem to be exactly like us but without knowledge of us, with some very advanced technology and some very out-of-date technology. They speak with the same idioms and expressions - only once does Lucan say something that Cael doesn't get, which I find hard to believe. The moon and its population just don't make any sense, and are so rarely described that I know no more about them now than I did at the beginning - and a very confusing beginning it was too.

I generally love fantasy novels that launch you straight into the story, and you gradually learn your way around the new world and culture - it can be more exciting that way. If it's done well. It wasn't done so well here. Chapter one - well, the first several chapters, actually - had me puzzled: had we already reached the moon or were we on a space ship with Lucan and a team of scientists and researchers - and one High Priestess who's really a dragon? The "aliens" living on the moon just weren't alien. Their buildings, their clothes, their speech - everything was familiar, which is quite the cop-out.

Cael I liked, though she switches from incredibly lonely "don't touch me" virgin to wild temptress very suddenly. The dragons I also enjoyed, though I don't normally. Lucan was a kind of Indiana Jones-type figure, and not terribly inspiring. I appreciated the nod at pollution, chemicals and free radicals and the long-term damage they will probably have on us, but if the science fiction side of things had been ditched, it may have been a better book, or at least a more controlled one. There were way too many plot-holes, or saggy bits that just didn't hold water, and the premise was a bit over-the-top and hard to take seriously. Makes me worried for the direction paranormal romance might be taking, into the realm of the ridiculous.
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03/12/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Shawna (new) - added it

Shawna How is this one so far? I saw it at the bookstore and was curious because it sounds interesting and unique.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) Ah, I'm not sure. I haven't read far though. I hope it improves! So far it's mostly confusing and, eh, contrived. We'll see...

message 3: by Shawna (new) - added it

Shawna Fantastic review, Shannon! Sounds like I can knock this down the wish list.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) Yes I think you should! I'm not recommending this to anyone.

Susan Kearney OK, normally I don't respond to reviews. I'm just happy when people discuss my books! First, about the time issue, King Arthur is a legend. No one has really pinpointed exactly when he lived--or if he lived on Earth. So whatever date I picked wouldn't have been correct.
About the flying across space in the near future. Yep! That's a stretch. But bear in mind this wasn't written for SF readers. And too far into the future tends to make romance readers a bit hesitant to pick up the book. So I fudged the time line there.

And yes, I do know that as we approach the speed of light time slows. But if Star trek can ignore the science, then so can I--or at least that's how I justify myself. :)

And lastly, this is a trilogy so not everything is explained in book one. You have to finish the series to find out how everything set up in book one really happened.

Oh, yes--when you reach the end, there is a very logical explanation why Earth is similar to Pendragon.

Now I know that you may still not like my book--but maybe you might want to judge for yourself. I've actually written straight SF for Star Trek and this is NOT written for the SF reader but for romance readers. That means it's very light on technology, deeper into romance. it may not be for you. Then again, maybe if you try it, you'll like it!
Susan Kearney

Shannon (Giraffe Days) Thanks Susan. I liked the romance side but I found the science fiction muddled it for me. When they're dragons - that I enjoyed. But I would start to get into the story and then something would jar and pull me out. It's sort of a visceral reading experience, if that makes sense.

I like my romance to be intelligent, and believable, and I struggled to believe in this because the world-building etc. was too vague for me.

(p.s. I hate Star Trek! I'm a Farscape girl myself, and they had lots of fun playing around with reality!)

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