The Dragon DelaSangre: Troop can’t quite pull it off

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Dragon DelaSangreThe Dragon DelaSangre by Alan F. Troop

Peter DelaSangre is a dragon. Yes, he looks human; that’s because dragons are shapeshifters. And he appreciates a lot about the human race, including such things as television, music, and women — but he probably appreciates the way they taste most of all. Because for dragons, humans are prey, and nothing else will really do, at least not in the long run.

Alan F. Troop’s protagonist in his first novel, The Dragon DelaSangre, is therefore not a likeable character. It’s quite a challenge for a first-time novelist to make the bad guy his first-person narrator. Troop can’t quite pull it off, though it has to be granted that The Dragon DelaSangre is a unique approach to dragons. These are not Anne McCaffrey’s useful dragons, nor the dragons that knights are wont to confront: they are not particularly wise, they have no mercy, and they are by no means a mode of transportation. Certainly, despite Peter’s odd fascination with the race, they are not even close to being human.

Peter has twin obsessions that drive this novel: his desire for a mate of his own kind in a world where dragons are scarce, and his grudging admiration for humans. Each obsession threatens to undo the other. The problems start when Peter reflexively but unintentionally kills a female human when he gets a whiff of a female dragon in heat. He regrets his act, but it doesn’t stop him from feasting on the woman’s body or carefully cleaning up the evidence. He makes one error: he adds the woman’s necklace, a clover with an emerald set in it, to the family hoard. Not only that, but he makes a gift of the necklace to the female dragon, Elizabeth, when he finds her, even though he knows that the human woman’s brother is suspicious that Peter killed his sister. As a plot point, this one is much too obvious, especially because the dragons are supposed to be both good at hiding among their prey and relatively smart.

But then, Peter is not quite your average dragon, having been raised by parents who thought it a good idea to teach him an appreciation for his prey that most dragons don’t share. Peter is cautious about hunting, generally taking humans who are out on the ocean alone (his estate is on an island off the Florida coast) and refusing as a matter of — well, it seems almost like an odd sort of morality — to eat children. He doesn’t use humans as slaves, as many dragons do. He is unaware of many of the traditions maintained by most dragons, such as that he is expected to pay a bride price to his intended’s parents. His regard for humans is the source of serious problems between him and his new bride, and even more serious problems when he allows his wife to persuade him to use humans as slaves. Humans can outwit stupid dragons no matter how evil they are, it seems, until the dragons resort to pure savagery to protect themselves.

The Dragon DelaSangre is uneasily poised between fantasy and horror. This blend can often lead to a book that’s pure magic; not so in this case. Rather than seeming interestingly horrific — like, for instance, Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat — Peter DelaSangre comes across as not too bright, only occasionally evil, and very confused. He has no sexual charge at all, though it is plain that DelaSangre intends portions of his novel to be titillating (there is lots of sex, described in romance novel detail). It is possible that Peter becomes more interesting as he becomes more ruthless in further novels — this is apparently the first of four novels about the character. Unfortunately, there is insufficient promise in The Dragon DelaSangre to persuade me to find out.


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TERRY WEYNA, on our staff since December 2010, would rather be reading than doing almost anything else. She longs to be a full-time reviewer, critic, scholar and writer, but nonetheless continues to practice law as a civil litigator in California. Terry lives in Northern California with her husband, professor emeritus and writer Fred White, the imperious but aging Cordelia Louise Cat Weyna-White, and a forever-growing personal library that presently exceeds 15,000 volumes.

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One comment

  1. The best dragon series out there.I have read a lot of books, and this one takes top spot for me. I loved the whole series, and Peter and the rest if the dragons lived up to everything an 'urban' dragon should be. Yes, parts may be Horrific, etc, and sure, there are even one or two plot holes. But honestly, they don't get better than this. Oh, and the author was a great guy too. I spoke with him in facebook every so often.

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