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Book review: Dragon Precinct - Phil's Rambling Rants
April 27th, 2010
09:38 pm

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Book review: Dragon Precinct
With today's review of Dragon Precinct by Keith R. A. DeCandido I will be caught up on my reviews.

This tells a complete story in a new world.  There are mild hints that it was supposed to be the start of a series, but no other books.

This book had been sitting on my to-be-read shelf for an indeterminate long time and I no longer actually recall where I got it.  I had a rough idea of what the book was about that turned out to have been wrong; where I was expecting an urban fantasy with a police theme, I got a police procedural in a standard sword and sorcery setting.  I don't read straight mysteries, not because I don't like them but simply because there is so mush sf and fantasy that I'm constantly overwhelmed, and I just don't want to take on another genre.  So the only time I read books like this is the occasional crossover into sf or fantasy, and I'm not a seasoned connoisseur.  The policeman's life may be pretty cliche, and the fantasy setting is somewhat deliberately so, but the mashup of the two actually works pretty well.  Unfortunately, the crime turns out to invoke a plot device that I really hate; it's more tolerable in fantasy than in sf, but it still torques me off.  I'm avoiding saying what it is because it's a spoiler, and the real mystery fan may want to actually try to solve the case without hints.  It's written in a clear, spare style well suited to the mystery story, with a good mix of tongue-in-cheek cliches and real social commentary.  It's fun, but it's not deeply memorable, and that plot device I hate does color my feeling.

I think I'll give it a 7 out of 10.





****  PLOT HIGHLIGHTS  --  SPOILERS  ****



The authorial sin that I wouldn't name above the cut is time travel.  The murderer does the deed by coming from the future.  Yuck, *cough* *hack* *ptui*.

I finished this book a few days ago (been reading some short stories since), and I find the details have gone fuzzy.  That may be partly because I've had a really long day, but in any case, I don't think I'm going to try to label this mumble as an actual summary.

An adventuring band of heroes comes out of retirement, passing through Cliff's End on their quest to whack the evil mage that everyone believes is dead, when one of their number drops dead.  It was obviously done by magic -- great hero's necks don't just spontaneously break as they prepare to retire in their rooms at the inn -- but the ME (magical examiner) finds no trace of magic at the crime scene.  The other members of the party are obviously hiding something, but our heroes can't get them to tell, and more members of the party start dying off.  Eventually, the barbarian in the party blabs that they're on a quest to get the big bad, and they're not telling because they want to protect the poor saps in the police department, who they're sure couldn't possibly handle the big bad.  Only, of course, it wasn't really the big bad who was getting them, it was some dweeb who'd tried to steal a healing potion from them to save his dying mother.  Who became so embittered that he learned forbidden chronotic sorcery and came back from the future to kill the arrogant adventurers off.  But using the time sorcery ages the caster hugely, so by the time he's struck 3 times, he's become so frail and senile that he can't do any more harm.  This magic doesn't show up on the ME's scans, and the mage guild doesn't even want to admit that it exists, which is why the ME misled the detectives about what his results meant.  The killer ends up handed over to the mage guild.  It's hinted that the survivors of the party are going to continue their quest and there's something sinister or at least corrupt in how thoroughly the mage guild squashes the rumors that the big bad is back, but to learn such, we'd have to read more in the series, books which do not appear to have been published.

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