I was recently at my favorite Chinese restaurant discussing the Matrix: Reloaded with my waitress. She told me she had the most peculiar feeling as she realized that it was the best-made-bad-movie that she had ever seen.
I feel the same way about The Dragon DelaSangre.
Alan F. Troop writes well. His prose has a nice, tight style, and he tells a well constructed, if somewhat convoluted, story. I enjoyed large portions of the book. But the story suffers from two miscalculations that makes the book unfulfilling overall.
Peter DelaSangre lives on his own island just of the coast of Florida. He and his dying father come from a line of dragons. Fortunately, they can shapeshift into human form, allowing them to interact with humanity.
Peter picks up the scent of a female dragon, and sets off for Jamaica. He finds her, fights for her, takes her (and takes her, and takes her), impregnates her, and brings her back to his little island, where they can live happily ever after.
And they would, too. If it weren't for Jorge Santos. Jorge's sister, Maria, was seen with Peter just before she disappeared, and he wants to either find her safe and sound, or hunt down and kill the man who harmed her. What he doesn't know is that he'll never find her, because Peter ate her.
Did I mention that dragons eat people?
And therein lies the rub. The first zig in this zag world. I hated Troop's dragons. There is nothing about these dragons that makes them worthy in the least. They care nothing for humans. They don't hate humans, they don't like humans. They just don't care. They also care nothing for art, literature, work, education. Nothing. Basically, the math goes like this:
Dragons = spoiled, rich, Southern belles that grew up on Daddy's plantation
Humans = black slaves
Why would you make your hero someone almost impossible to like? And his wife! Don't get me started.
Not only that, the antagonist, Jorge Santos, is COMPLETELY sympathetic. His sister was murdered. You want him to find justice.
His desire to kill his sister's murderer leads up to the dramatic climax at the end. And it is dramatic. In the end, though, you can't help but think that the wrong guy won.
The other miscalculation was simply a matter of pacing. Dean Koontz once wrote that the biggest mistake writers make is not putting the hero in jeopardy within the first five pages.
Peter doesn't find his wife until page 79. (And after he catches her, you wonder why he doesn't throw her back.)
He doesn't meet Jorge Santos until about the mid-point. The book is really slow until then.
So, I probably won't be reading Dragon Moon, the sequel, but if Troop decides to write another series, I may give it a look, he's got the talent.
One final thought: other websites have compared this book with Interview with the Vampire, and made comparisons with Peter and Louis, and Elizabth and Lestat. But where Anne Rice succeeds in making Louis engaging to the reader, Troop fails to do so with Peter. An entire thread could be made discussing the reasons why.
The Dragon DelaSangre by Alan F. Troop
Published by: Roc; March 2002
Author's Webpage: www.dragonnovels.com