I promised [profile] bookelfe I would read this. Thanks! I think.

[profile] bookelfe reviewed a remarkable book, Pigs Don’t Fly, in which a rather unlikable heroine goes on a quest with six companions to make the mystical seven: a blind amnesiac knight, a horse princess, a cockney mutt, a Turtle of Love, a farm boy named Dickon, and The Wimperling, a winged pig who flies by farting. I am not making this up. I commend you to her hilarious review before you read mine, since this review is of the sequel, which she challenged me to read. Especially since I am about to spoil the end of Pigs Don’t Fly, since it motivates the entire action of this book.

Pigs Don’t Fly ends with Summer, the heroine, kissing her beloved pet flying farting pig. Poof! He turns into a dragon! Poof! He turns into a man! In a somewhat confusing scene, they have sex. Poof! He turns into a dragon!

He is a dragon who was under an enchantment which made him look like a pig. But since Summer kissed him three times as a pig, though he is now a dragon again, he is also now cursed to periodically turn into a man. He explains all this, then flies off to China, ditching Summer.

Master of Many Treasures picks up with Summer stalking her dragon-pig-not-boyfriend across the world. Occasionally she finds it necessary to justify herself to the reader:

But why fall in love with a dragon? Because I had loved the pig and the dragon wasn’t a dragon all the time.

Summer. Summer. You do not make falling in love with a dragon more acceptable by protesting that you actually fell in love with a pig!

But mostly, she doesn’t think about her dragon-pig not-boyfriend much at all. She’s too busy wandering around collecting plot coupons as she travels around, having basically everyone she meets see through her "boy" disguise and periodically conversing ethnically stereotyped characters speaking in comic dialect. This book is over-burdened with comic dialect. Her own companions include Growch the cockney mutt, a slave boy speaking an unknown language and broken English otherwise, and a developmentally disabled dancing bear. (Yes, really.)

Thankfully, three of Summer’s obligatory six companions do not speak in dialect: Ky-Lin, a magical Chinese stone chimera which she gets literally handed to her for no actual reason other than that the plot requires her to have it, Dickon, and the teeny dragon egg with which Summer was unknowingly impregnated.

Yes. She is pregnant with an egg. She keeps feeling sick in a pregnancy-signalling manner, but thinks that she can’t possibly be pregnant because it’s been a year since she had sex that one time. There are flashbacks to her sexcapade with the dragon-pig-dude, which are written in a manner probably meant to convey that it was all very unexpected and confusing, but really make it sound like the entire thing lasted about fifteen seconds. Which is entirely possible, all things considered.

With the help of Ky-Lin, Summer lays the egg through her belly button. I think. The scene is really vague. It’s possible that she lays it through some other orifice, but it’s then stuck into her belly button. It ends up stuck to her belly button, anyway.

Ky-Lin then helpfully explains that dragons are “bisexual.” He defines this as meaning that they are both male and female, and can fertilize themselves, so… I forget why this was relevant.

I don’t know why an egg that does not speak, telepathically communicate, or hatch counts as a companion, but it does. Mystic seven!

Ky-Lin spouts a lot of Buddhist philosophy which, based on its accuracy, I surmise was gleaned from the author vaguely remembering what she’d read in the Religions of the World chapter of some textbook when she was twelve. That being said, he does not speak in comic dialect and is the only character with any intelligence or common sense, so I cut him a lot of slack.

I barely remember Dickon from the first book, other than as a generic farm boy. In this book, he seems to be running for most unlikable character ever. He spends the entire book stalking Summer because he thinks she’s on a quest for treasure. He steals her stuff, drugs her, insults her and her companions, flees in a cowardly fashion whenever they’re endangered, and drinks all their water when they’re lost in the desert.

They have the same unbelievably annoying interaction something like six times in the book: Dickon shows up and harasses, vaguely threatens, robs, and/or leeches on Summer. She has an extremely bad feeling about him (I wonder why!) but even though she’s not afraid of him and she has a premonition that he will do something horrible, she always feels unable to tell him to get lost. He proceeds to harass, vaguely threaten, rob, and/or leech on Summer until he somehow gets ditched. She proceeds without him, until he turns up again, and the process repeats.

Summer is one of the stupidest protagonists I have ever encountered. Whenever someone acts suspicious or threatening, she assumes they can't possibly have bad intentions, and is amazed when they do. Whenever a clearly friendly person warns her of something, she is suspicious and ignores them. My very favorite instance of this was when Ky-Lin is leading her through a marsh full of quicksand and rotting corpses, and says, "The left path will dump you in quicksand. Take the right path."

Summer: "I'm tired of people bossing me!"

Summer: [Takes left path.]

Summer: [Is dumped into rotting corpse-filled quicksand.]

And then the true WTF begins. Even more WTF than the belly-button dragon egg.

Read more... )

This all seems even more WTF than it would anyway because there has been no set-up that would make any of this make sense, thematically or any other way. The entire book is Summer's first person POV, except for the two epilogues.

I don't think I've ever read a book which was improved by two epilogues.

I think there’s a third book that explains what happened to the egg. I’ll pass.

Here There Be Dragonnes (Pigs Don't Fly omnibus). This is an omnibus which contains The Unlikely Ones, which has some problems but which I actually like. It's a very similar story to Pigs Don't Fly: girl who thinks she's ugly due to manipulation by an older woman guardian goes on a quest with one man and five animals, and discovers that she was beautiful all along. The difference is that it's written as a dreamy, poetic fairy-tale, and parts of it are quite beautiful and moving. Other parts show a witch having sex with a broomstick, in a short but understandably memorable scene. One of the heroes is a unicorn who is in love with an enchanted prince, so the human/mythical animal theme is also there. It's done a lot better and less ridiculously in The Unlikely Ones.
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