Dragonne’s Eg by Mary Brown

Do you ever read terrible novels and stick with them to the end? Have you been happy while thinking, “This is so terrible; I know I could do better”? That’s what Dragonne’s Eg by Mary Brown put me through.

dragonne's eg

Set during Victorian times, a poor but self-sufficient teacher in London named Sophy learns that she’s now the sole heir to a tiny horse figurine and weird, sizable egg (it’s a dragon). If she can return the egg to its rightful place on the Blue Mountain in China within a year, she will inherit a country manor that would make the perfect place for an orphanage to help all the underprivileged children she teaches. To make sure she gets there in a year, her dead uncle’s lawyers send two lackeys (they had job titles, but I forgot them). The horse figurine reveals itself to be a Ky-Lin, a servant of Buddha who must help others on earth so he can return to his master. He’s magical. He’s got wicked linguistic skills and “Sleepy Dust.” And when her favorite pupil mails himself to the manor before she leaves for China, Sophy has her traveling crew.

unexpected dragon
See that thing that pretty much looks like a horse? That’s a Ky-Lin.

The lackeys are easy to confuse. At first, one seemed like a version of “Rebecca’s favorite cousin,” Mr. Jack Favell. The other, more gentlemanly. But as the louse became more normal and the gentleman gambled and drank, and the two sounded the same in description and dialogue, I assumed they were twinsies. I think one may have actually been Irish.

The favorite pupil’s dialogue runs the gamut from Cockney to good grammar and back again. I know he’s in school, but he practically changes overnight into a star sentence constructor. Honestly, I confused him with the dog from previous novels in this set of books. The dog and the boy were both constantly hungry and a Mary Poppins Dick Van Dyke version of British. The dog was a favorite character of mine, but because it’s 500 years later in this last installment of Mary Brown’s quartet of books, he can’t be alive. Instead, Sophy saves a cat that claims to be a Chinese prince cursed by a witch. He’s talkative and a little sexy and he’s slowly getting larger in each chapter. These are not things cats should be or do, but Mary Brown likes animals.

master of many treasures
See that dog? That dog is beloved, but sounds like Dick Van Dyke.

Nevertheless, our heroine stands strong with dignity and conquers each challenge set in her way. We miss a lot of those challenges because the book makes huge leaps in setting and time as the crew travels from London to China by river boat and on foot. Somehow, much like in Lord of the Rings (well, the film at least — I haven’t read the books), they are able to ride a train all the way back in no time after nearly dying a hundred deaths just to get the egg home to the nearly extinct dragons.

Each of the previous novels ended rather annoyingly with one of those “Well, townspeople gossiped one thing may have happened, or it may have been this other way” sort of endings. You can hear in a wispy voice sighing, “We’ll never know. . . .” Dragonne’s Eg actually has a confirmed ending, perhaps overly saccharine, but it’s more satisfactory than Mary Brown essentially saying, “I don’t know how to end this thing! YOU do it!!”

Because this is less of a review and more a puzzle asking why I finished a terrible book, I’m going to end with a list of some reasons:

  • I was four books into a series, and this was the last.
  • I was reading to my husband, who found my voices to be a hoot.
  • It doesn’t seem to matter what we’re reading, my husband and I look forward to it each night.
  • I wanted to know if the cat really was a cursed prince.
  • The writing, though riddled with typos and the occasional poor sentence structure, was much improved over the course of the quartet, allowing me to read faster (and thus took us less time to get through).
  • This all started with a novel called The Unlikely Ones, the first in the quartet, that I was assigned as an undergrad for a science fiction/fantasy class. The professor was amazingly odd and nerdy, but I respected her.
unlikely ones
Where it all started. Clearly, the cover artist did not read the book.

So, there you have it. A terrible book. I don’t recommend it (nor can I to most of you, as it’s the 4th in a series and I haven’t really “sold” Mary Brown’s work), but I do want to know what terrible books you’ve sat through entirely, either hating or enjoying the story as you did. Let me know in the comments!

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27 comments

    • Thanks, Margot! I pick these voices in the moment based on a simple description of the character. Done voices are a nightmare to do for a whole novel, but I stick with them.

  1. I really struggle to give up on a book I’m not enjoying as well, which is silly considering how many books there are out there that I want to get to. Let’s hope your next read is considerably more enjoyable!

    • That’s the weird thing: it was enjoyable to read, but a badly written book. I’m not sure how old you are, but I think a lot of us have noted that as we get older, it’s easier to dump a miserable book.

  2. I get your reasons. I’ve done that before with a series, or with an author I’ve enjoyed previously. The last one that comes to mind is the fourth in the Neapolitan Series by Elena Ferrante. I was very disappointed with the 4th one, and had really liked the previous three. But I slugged along, hoping it would get better. You feel like you owe the author something if you’ve liked their previous work.

    • These books have been such a goofy romp, and the investment was really in the fact that I was reading them aloud. Then again, when it’s the last book in the series, quitting feels like giving up instead of making and informed decision, so I see where you’re coming from.

  3. Haha! I love the idea of you doing all the voices! I can’t think of a really terrible book I’ve stuck with… oh wait! The third book in the Dune series – Children of Dune – was pretty dire and extremely weird, but I was doing a readalong with a buddy so I stuck it out, and we had a lot of fun being rude about it to each other… 😀

    • My husband just said he tried reading Children of Dune, but just quit, so “damn right.”

      Yes, when I read I always do voices for him. Right now, I’m trying to create distinctions between all the goofballs in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Isabella and John Thorpe are the worst. I made her flighty and John a big boastful turd. They’re both hard to do.

  4. That’s awesome that you two manage to read it every night. Me and my boyfriend do buddy reads as well, but we manage like once a week or so. Many reasons. Wish we just stuck to it and read every night!
    Also, it’s hilarious that you finished a book like this, and even more so that this is the one I chose to click on xD
    Terrible books, hmm.. Now I know I have read at least a few, and I very rarely DNF as well, but my brain is fried tonight (tired!) From the more recent ones, I can remember Mizgot, one of my first ARCs (basically, when I knew no better), and it sucked SO much. Like. Homicidal robot is let go because “they’re gotta explore the world”. Novel takes dark turn at like 80%, being lighthearted before that. I could have seen all of this coming, really, but, like I said. Knew no better 😀

    • As opposed to a buddy read, I read while he listens. I had to start doing it because I got hearing aids and had to stimulate the follicles in my ears so they didn’t die. That was four or so years ago. The practice stuck! It gives us something to look forward to each night before bed.

  5. haha I’m so glad you finished this book/series, because I really enjoy reading your reviews of them. I personally ALWAYS finish books. It’s a thing I have, I can’t stop reading once I’ve started, I don’t know why. I’m one of those people who like things neat and tidy I suppose, even if it’s a giant waste of my time LOL

  6. This last book was decent, and went very fast, but the whole quartet was let down by the ending of the 3rd book. It feels like the author simply couldn’t decide what to do and lacked the courage to decide. Let us not forget the wisdom of Rush, who tells us that even if you do not choose, you still have made a choice. She chose poorly.

    A solid 3.5 out of 5. 👍

  7. I’m really curious about your thoughts on DNFing. Is it something that you ever do or do you stick with a book even when you’re not enjoying it? I know this is part of a series you’ve been reading and thus felt the need to finish, but I’m just curious. Also, I’ve enjoyed your reviews of these books, so can only imagine how your reading of the books went with your husband. Wait, did you just write that the cat was a little sexy?

    • The cat is SUPER sexy, lol. He claims to be a prince cursed by a witch. He keeps getting bigger too, so near the end he is panther-sized.

      I’ve discovered that the older I get the more likely I am to not finish a book. I used to think not finishing meant I was a quitter or not smart enough. Now I realize that not finishing often means the author didn’t hold up his/her end of the bargain to entertain me or make me think. I no longer see it as quitting because I immediately pick up a new book.

  8. I loved the covers. The one class of badly written books that I enjoy (not too often!) is Romance – Regency romances these days though I have been through a stage of reading Mills & Boon. You might say the same about old, straight SF but I read those for the ideas, not the writing.

    • People are nutty about regency romances! I had an author send me one to review, and I couldn’t seem to get over all the historical inaccuracies. She might as well have stuck zippers everywhere.

      Straight science fiction is so fun, but I tend to like the ones that include something about humanity. I especially like the story “That Only a Mother” by Judith Merril.

  9. Hang on, this isn’t the sequel to the one where she loses all the weight then hooray? (grr) which means you’ve read at least five terrible fantasy novels? Goodness me! I do tend to give up on terrible books. I’m reading a Hard Book for a review for someone else at the moment and that’s heavy going but not terrible. But fair play to you!

    • It was four books total. Once she lost weight, the author stopped talking about it and I let it go. I was half-way invested in the series already, so we chose to finish it.

  10. I literally laughed aloud reading this review. This is perfect. Your utter confusion is amazing. I’m sorry that you felt confused and frustrated, I’ve been there at the end of series before. But I love that you are able to laugh at it. Are you glad you read the whole series? Would you recommend people to push through to the end? It sounds like there were still some loose ends when it was all said and done. But, sometimes, that’s great.

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