– Est. 1981

What Dragons Rule written by John C. Fontaine – Audiobook by John C. Fontaine

What Dragons Rule





Warning: It's impossible to accurately review this title without some spoilers. If you're reading this book now go read one of my other reviews. Come back when you're done. Also, there's some language that may be offensive to some people. I don't mind offending you I just want you to know the word COCK is down there.


I really enjoy supporting indie scenes whether it be video games, films, or books. This is 2015 and some of the best work is coming out of small passionate groups of people creating "the game they want to play" or "the book they want to read", in this case. The problem you run into with this type of work is that the audience either LOVES it or HATES it.  When it comes to literature the indie scene is basically an unknown author trying to make a name for himself. The books are not on the best sellers list, have very few reviews and may be buried by several pages of better known authors. They may also have varying levels of quality throughout a piece of work, which is the case with What Dragons Rule by John C. Fontaine.

Let's dive in...



I hate to say it because I'm not entirely sure if it's true in all instances; What Dragons Rule suffers from a dialogue written by a male for a female protagonist intended for a female audience. Some of the dialogue is cringe worthy. I know I am not the intended audience but I still have a pretty good indication of whether or not the target audience would be engaged or not. Some of this dialogue is going to alienate that target demographic.

I'll get to some examples in just a moment but I want you to know that this is basically Twilight with dragons. The case could be made that this is Dungeons and Dragons fan fiction and I'm not sure that John C. Fontaine would disagree with that. There are references to D&D spells in and out of combat situations. There are also references to D&D inspired situations, like charming someone and resistance to certain spell types. That being said, there are some very modern sounding phrases and words used throughout the book that sound a lot like how a group of guys might role play during a D&D game.

"He's dumber than a box of hammers."

"...not the sharpest tool in the shed..."

This isn't really an issue, but it's certainly a line taken from around the table while you're role-playing a scene with your buddies. It fits into the world if you approach this as D&D fan fiction. However, if you're looking to this book to be some fantasy epic it does not work.

Dialogue in some places seems to serve no other purpose other than to give history and back story on the world and even having finished the book I don't feel the need to know any of this back story... This is a love story and when it comes down to it that's ALL it is. Example:

***Spoiler Alert***

A demon named Samuel goes on and on describing the history of demons and dragons as if he is reading from Encyclopedia Britannica and the only responses from the protagonist, Raina are short little questions that are obviously meant to push along the story telling session.

Raina: "What about the 7 hells?"

Samuel: "Thanks for asking Raina. For a limited time only, buy 6 hells and get the 7th hell completely FREE!"

That's how this whole scene comes off to me. Information for information's sake...

Here's a spoiler for you... There's a SEX scene!

...and it's a little hard to take seriously. She grabs his cock (it's my blog I can say what I want) but he grabs her bottom. If you're going to say words like cock you may as well say ass instead of bottom... Hell let's go crazy and call it a vagina instead of "lady parts" also.

That's right... She refers to her vagina as lady parts but the context is even worse.

*clears throat*

(paraphrased for sanity)

Thax: "I want you again..."

Raina: "Oh not right now I need to rest my.. um.. lady parts."

(some time later)

Raina: "Do dragons umm.. uh.. have... you know... lady parts?"

I've known a few women and I've seen a few lady parts and I have never myself heard them referred to as such. This is what I was talking about when I said the dialogue suffers in places from being written by a male from a female perspective for a female audience. Instant alienation.

Ok this next part comes (Lol) during pillow talk.. almost all of this was cringe worthy but because I was mowing my lawn my hands were too busy to press the stop button.

Raina: "What do you want Thax?"

Thax: "I want everything."

Raina: "Does that mean you want to put it in my butt?"

Seriously, what in the absolute fuck, man? Who is the intended audience here? This is good for a healthy high school chuckle but as dialogue in a fantasy novel it's just awful.

Okay enough with the Prose.. I have so many notes I could go on and on forever. It's Twilight and Hunger Games style dialogue at best.


The plot here follows the expected path for this type of story.

  1. Girl meets mysterious / dangerous boy.
  2. Dangerous boy somehow sees some part of her that everyone overlooks, he's intrigued.
  3. Girl finds out that dangerous boy is more sensitive and caring than everyone else knows, she's intrigued.
  4. They fall in love.
  5. Girl in danger, boy saves girl.

There are a lot of stories like this these days because a lot of people are trying to capitalize on the success of Twilight, that much is obvious. I've seen this happen in other mediums also including one that I am all too familiar with. Gaming.

One company develops a retro style platformer, like the old Super Mario. It does great because it touches that nostalgia nerve. Everyone jumps on the bandwagon and saturates the market. The games that come after may even be better but the consumers are just so used to seeing the same formula that it just does not resonate. What Dragons Rule is exactly that... The PLOT of What Dragons Rule is actually very intriguing and I would actually say it is much more interesting than Twilight.

There's a twist toward the end of the book that really brings it all together and starts to make sense of some "WTF moments" that happen early in the book. I'll give John C. Fontaine some credit here, the plot is mostly strong.


What Dragons Rule rests squarely in a setting that I am intimately familiar with. The target demographic for this book will likely not have much knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons so there will be some mystery. The issue with the setting is the way it's all introduced and the way some real world things find themselves into the story very awkwardly.... I couldn't tell you much about the world these characters are living in because so much feels rushed. But I can tell you this.... There is pizza. Pizza is cooked on the belly of magma elementals. That's right, a wizard offers to cook some freaking pizza. So I'm left to believe that wizards are Italian because obviously Italian cuisine has a place in Fontaine's world.

We find ourselves in some various settings that all come to life in your mind. John C. Fontaine has the ability to describe things in a cohesive manner that makes it easy to visualize. He's also very good at describing movements in space. Tail swipes, sword swings... it does not feel like a series of "if  / then" commands. That being said, there are some places that the author takes us that seem completely useless and are only taking up several chapters in the middle of the book to serve as a reminder to the reader that Raina is indeed a know it all who is immune to magic spells and her lover, Thax is just kind of an asshole for no good reason.


You'll remember Thax and Raina and you will forget everyone else. I didn't take notes on the names of any of the characters because nothing of any value to the story happens with them. All of the dialogue involving tertiary characters is forgettable and they all seems to have very similar personalities. With one MAJOR exception.... fives. More on that later.

Thax and Raina however are very developed characters. There's so much character development in this book that if the author could have slowed down a bit he could have made this book two books. Their love affair starts very quickly and progresses rapidly.... two humans usually do not progress this quickly and considering the nature of this relationship I would expect it to be a little slower. You know, the whole "dragon wants to molest me" thing might be cause for concern for most women. But, the twist toward the end might explain that, too... so what the hell? Jump on in there Raina and ride some horn.

I know Fontaine was trying to make me like Raina, but I just couldn't muster the strength to involve myself emotionally with her character. Thax on the other hand is a fire-fucking-breathing dragon. So of course I liked him even though he's a neurotic asshole, but he's a dragon. He's not helping little old women cross the street here. He's eating all your cows, deal with it.

Some characters that could have used a lot more development were the wizards on the wizard island. That's not a spoiler because that's all you'll ever really learn about them. I think an entire adventure could have been written with these wizards at the center of the conflict. That's really a missed opportunity there but that leads me back around to that damn pizza...  After all, it was one of these Italian wizards that offered up the pizza.

Sooo... remember when I mentioned fives?  fives is a robot, I mean Golem. Named fives because he is the fifth of his kind. Readers of a certain age are visualizing this guy right about now:

Johnny-fucking-Five, ya'll.

Johnny-fucking-Five, ya'll.

I kid you not. Johnny Fives has a cameo in What Dragons Rule. Well not technically but damn... how could this not be on purpose? Oh yah, Fives is a Golem built to teach fighting styles to people. So he's a program in the Matrix, basically.


The plot and the character development were the strongest parts of this story but damn the shadow of that prose is long... almost everything good about this book lives in the shadow of corny dialogue. I'm not sure who that dialogue is appealing to but I'll be damned if I'm letting my teenage daughter read a book with the kind of language and an older woman is going to be completely put off. The setting is going to appeal to men ages 24 to 56 but Fontaine is aiming for a 16 to 56 female audience and unfortunately I think the book as a whole misses both of those marks.

I hesitated pressing the Publish button because I really wanted to give Fontaine a good review when I started reading What Dragons Rule but as the story progressed I had a sinking feeling that I was going to have to write a pretty bad review. Fontaine is a GOOD WRITER, guys... seriously. I think he got caught up in trying to appeal to an audience and fell into a story that is made up of so many conflicting elements, ideas and pop culture references that what we're left with is a puzzle with edge pieces forced into the middle and the middle pieces all forced on to the edges. I think the next try will be better... the writing competency is there.





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  1. Takes some guts to share your honest opinions, Shelby. Hopefully the author will understand where you are coming from. I know it isn’t easy to write non-hearts and flowers reviews, but it helps give potential readers a fuller idea of what to expect. Keep up the awesome work on your blog!


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