Rise of the Overlord, by Kevin Potter (3:26)

IOD score cardToday we see that when the conditions of a prophecy are completely under the characters’ control, it’s hard to be impressed when the prophecy is fulfilled.

What I gleaned about the story: An old, wise dragon and a younger nestsitter are supervising the hatching of the Chosen One. The nest is very, very high up.

Find this book on Amazon.

Kudo #1: Gorgeous cover art

Analysis: The cover has it all. Dragons. Space. Space dragons. Space dragons fighting other space dragons. Gorgeous use of color, excellent font-fu. Just looking at it gives me an itchy click-to-buy finger.

WTF #1: Skippable introductory poem

Analysis: In the ordinary course of reading, I probably would have barely glanced at the poetic preface, entitled “Canticle of the Torthugra.” Such inclusions make me suspicious that a book aspires to be Very Serious High Fantasy, which isn’t my favorite genre.

But there’s a chance the poem is here to set a mood or set a hook, and in the interests of being thorough, I should give it a chance to do so.

The poem’s overall prophetic message is that a hero will arise to save the people, fight for them, die for them, etc. But, because it’s a prophecy, it’s naturally cagey about the specifics, and (in a non-poet’s opinion) the poetry itself feels a little rough in places. But the main issue is that it just seems to be there to say, “the book will be about a chosen one,” something the subsequent prologue immediately makes clear anyhow.

So by the time I was done with the poem, I was impatient to get to the good stuff.

WTF #2: Muddled prophecy

Analysis: The foretold time is at hand. A wizened sage of a dragon stands guard over a nest, telling the nest’s caretaker that “He comes.” Things are getting downright portentous. Then:

It was there, at the plateau of the highest peak of Mount Torthral, where the Chosen One was prophesied to hatch from his egg.


…the largest of the nine eggs bounced and rocked in its shallow depression

The most obvious question raised here is, knowing that there are nine eggs, why are they assuming the Chosen One will be the first to hatch? What’s Hatchling #4, chopped liver? She might not be the Chosen One, but hey, she might be the Chosen Enough One.

The fact that the hatching egg is the biggest, and that there’s a sagacious, wizened dragon there saying, “He comes,” is suggestive, but it still feels a bit circumstantial.

Note from Jefferson: When I spot this kind of apparent oversight in a story’s logic, it makes me wonder if it was intentional, and then to project where the story might be going as a result. In this case, it seems to hints tantalizingly at a sort of “Life Of Brian” situation. The dragon has jumped to conclusions and what we’re actually witnessing is the birth of the Fake One. Meanwhile, just off-screen, the real Chosen One is still struggling to get out of egg # 7. He’ll end up hatching in the middle of the night, unheralded, while everyone is asleep, and then grow up in the shadow of his increasingly famous brother, never realizing that he himself is the one in the prophesied hot-seat. I find such experiences make a marginal book more enjoyable for me, as they often inspire new story ideas. But for the author, this is usually a real problem. If the reader starts fantasizing about a different story than the one you’re telling and it ends up being better than the yours, they won’t stick around very long. 

But the less obvious question came earlier: how does a prophecy like this even work? It seems very specific: “The Chosen One will hatch right here, on this exact spot. See the flashing arrow sign we put up? That spot.” This specific bit of foreknowledge ought to lead to an unmanageable dragon’s nest real estate bubble. We assume dragon parents have some control over where their nests get placed. Those who want to be the parents of the Chosen One would be brawling for that patch of real estate.

Or maybe they have a lottery system. Or you have to know who to bribe. I’m getting off topic.

The portentous location is being presented as evidence that the foretold event is happening now, but the location of the eggs ought to be under the dragons’ control. What was stopping them from siting a nest there during the last mating season?

Overall, the prophecy doesn’t seem well thought out.

WTF #3: Dragon hatchling endangerment

Analysis: Okay, brain, let’s put a pin in the prophecy thing. There’s a baby hatching going on. Sit and watch.

It bounced again, hopping up nearly a span. It landed with a sharp crack, then the top third of the egg burst upward, falling over the ledge of the sheer cliff.

The plummeting eggshell adds a bit of flash to what might have been an ordinary hatching scene, but the geography here feels precarious. We’ve got eggs that seem to be able to bounce high off the ground, and a precipice very, very near at hand. Dragon parents, hunker down. We have to have a talk about safe nest construction and siting.


Yes, I know you put it on the prophetic spot. But… it’s the eggs. They hop around. Can we maybe build the nest’s rim a few feet higher?


You’re right, I am questioning your parenting skills!

[incinerating flame]

Note to self: don’t argue parenting techniques with dragons.

Not all readers will notice anything amiss: they’ll imagine that bit of eggshell flying really high, or they’ll be too overwhelmed by the awesome landscape: sheer cliffs, a bright moon overhead. I’m telling you, it’s gorgeous out here. But as someone with a fear of heights, the nearby ledge stuck out to me. I’m imagining eggs bouncing out of the nest left and right. Now I’m imagining the bottom of the cliff littered with eggshell and tiny dragon bones. It’s pretty gruesome.

In summary, while it seems like a small detail, and the reader could interpret it more charitably, there’s definitely a hint that somewhere along the way some dragon was cavalier about the safety of their offspring. Characters—even off-screen ones—should behave sensibly unless they have a clear reason for doing otherwise.

I hate to see this book fail, especially in such odd ways. But remember what I said at the beginning? Space. Dragons. That alone is reason to give the sample chapters a try.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Try the free sample on one of my books or short stories and decide for yourself.

Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology, by Larissa Hinton (2:37)
Short Stories: Volume 1, by Liam Mor (1:10)