Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: Children of the Dragon

Children of the Dragon Children of the Dragon by Frank S. Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was recommended this book by my friend Daniel as a cross between Conan the Barbarian and class struggle. "something I definitely think you will like." After having just finished it I have many conflicting thoughts.

First of all, he wasn't wrong. The book tells the story of captured brigand who ends up leading the anti-imperialist resistance against the foreign occupation by an all powerful god-emperor and his bureaucrats. Not shying away from intense violence and structural critiques, this book includes torture, repression, sexual violence, bloodthirsty retaliation, starvation, land expropriation, and other themes that would be very present in any Fanon text.

"As in Taroloweh, the Ksavra Land Decree was enforced against the barons and their stranglehold upon agriculture was smashed. Some of them yielded without bloodshed, others barricaded themselves in their manor houses and fought to the death. But all of them were drowned in the surging peasant tide.

Through the towns and villages too, Jehan carried the relentless war of liberation. Here it was the merchants and the officials, and of course the priests who were the target of enflamed mobs. Temples would be set ablaze and the priests brutally slaughtered.

Red and black with fire and smoke was the sky above Nitupsar...."

While being hyper critical of structural violence of occupation and authoritarianism, it remains cynical of the short term effects of revolutionary activity and the dislocation it can cause.

I also feel that the books handling of gender was pretty bad. While its class politics were ok, the women in the book were often depicted as manipulative if not outright crazy. (with one major exception). Instead, they were shown as the eternal victims, seldom empowered and not particularly focused on. There were also uncomfortable scenes of sexual violence which occur throughout the book as a way of demonizing the bad guys and also committed as revenge by resisting peasants on their conquerors... and they were hard to read.

If you like gritty depressing stories like Blood Meridian.. or want a conan the barbarian story mixed with class struggle. Then Read it. I still haven't made up my mind on how I feel about it.

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