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Dakota Black or "the Dragon"


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A modern reappearance of the great American novel Moby Dick, in a form appealing to today's readers

Dakota Black (Dakota Black or "the Dragon" in full) is deeply inspired by Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick. As I realized, it's the same at heart as its inspiration (i.e., Moby Dick). And similar to the great old novel, it is based on the Bible and portrays the selfsame battle between good and evil. Most of the characters are the same—Ahab, the egomaniacal captain, mates Starbuck, Stubb, Flask...and most of the crew of Melville's classic. The story winds itself around the long journey of an airship, the ‘Pequod’. This ‘Pequod’ has an interesting history as well—it was built using the remains of Moby Dick’s sea-ship, ‘Pequod’ (so it immediately inherits the widespread popularity of that old American classic).

I tried, but couldn’t successfully explain why the author rewrote Melville's old classic in the form of Dakota Black. If one goes by the main differences between the two stories, the latter appears as a merely modernized version of the former, intended to appeal to today’s readers, and a new class of readers: women. First, it appears to acknowledge the landmark change we witness in modern society caused by women rising to positions of power and authority, by being more inclusive of women. For example, Isabelle, a girl, fulfills the primary role of the narrator, as opposed to Ishmael in Moby Dick. Another important replacement is Berta, the (woman) cook, who replaces the wise Queequeg. The second major difference is the 19th-century sea-ship ‘Pequod’ reappears in the form of an airship. Finally, in place of the giant white whale Moby Dick, we have the mighty black dragon, Dakota Black.

The aforementioned are the major differences. As none of them seemed to suggest a fundamental/pivotal change to the old classic, I went on to conclude that Dakota Black is merely the former in modern garb (as above). However, I could be wrong on account of my analysis being superficial. I would, therefore, like to add that there are some smaller differences too e.g., Pip, the cabin boy dies in this story, following one of the dragon’s attacks (while he survives but turns mad after the great whale’s attack in Moby Dick), the addition of new characters Brit and Sara, etc. If an expert were to make an in-depth analysis taking all the differences into account, they might discover vastly more profound meanings/interpretations of this great American classic, but I stopped short of that, feeling it was beyond the scope of this review.

Dakota Black preserves the old-world charm of Moby Dick by using comparable settings, and by using the same ancient English as its illustrious predecessor. I recommend it to the selfsame readership of Melville's classic—readers of Christian fiction, classics, students of literature (particularly American literature), scholars, and so on. Another thing, one can expect a significant number of new readers to be women since they have a greater role in this story!

Reviewed by

An engineer and part-time IT Consultant based in Bangalore, India. Part-time copy editor/reviewer. An IEEE Senior Member. Deep thinker and innovator. Highly analytical, clear, accurate, and thorough. Nearly 100 book reviews published to date-74 on Reedsy and 22 on Online BookClub.

DAKOTA BLACK: or "the Dragon"

About the author

After a tour in Afghanistan and the completion of his contracted service, Nathaniel Matthews returned to the heart of Michigan, the place where it all began. He spends his time as an undercover writer , and developing secret missions for his children. view profile

Published on April 05, 2020

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90000 words

Genre: Magical Realism

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