Mistress of the Dragon

As a wizard who has spent a lifetime studying and creating magic, do you think anyone could surprise you anymore? How much joy would you feel if strangers came to your home and wanted you to see something different, something NEW? Something even you, in your one hundred and four years, have never seen. Wouldn't you find the opportunity for such an adventure worth leaving your cave for? Worth leaving your beloved cat for?

Neferes believes so, and so he travels to the nearby village of Oricam to see the winged, scaled girl captured by the townspeople. There he finds Patrill, the daughter of a human mother and dragon father.

Neferes learns the story of Petrill's origins from her father, Tigora. A tale of forbidden love, betrayal, loneliness, obsession, and death. The great, dying dragon asks Neferes to tell the story to his daughter, so she can finally understand her parents and forgive them for the life she has had to endure.

Since Michael told me he likes it so much, I'll divide the review into the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good: I like original ideas, and while one can easily find half-breed creatures in science fiction and fantasy, I have never run across a half-dragon before. Oh, to sit down to a fantasy novel devoid of elves and dwarves! Mark the calendar at such an event. Circle the date twice, since you'll find no heroic quest, either.

Like Interview with the Vampire, Mistress of the Dragon tells of the isolation felt by those different from the norm through the metaphor of monsters. Michael appears to feel very strongly about this theme, as it arises not only in this book, but also in his children's novel Dragon's Fire, Wizard's Flame as well. Michael's writings teach the value of tolerance, a lesson we as a species should take more to heart.

And, finally, not only do we have the unique Petrill, but we also have a supporting cast worthy of future tales, should the author want to take another swing at this world. Michael set up a world and characters worth returning to over and over again.

The Bad: Mistress of the Dragon essentially tells two stories at the same time. One story, the story of Petrill, takes place in "real time," while the story of Tigora and Morana, Petrill's parents, takes place in long flashbacks told by Tigora to the wizard Neferes. The story suffers from this structure. I believe that to strengthen the story, Michael should have simply told the story of Tigora and Morana in this book, and left the story of Petrill for a sequel. Both stories could have supported a novel each, and some of the final sequences would have more suspense if the reader didn't already know that Tigora would survive to tell the tale.

Also, this structure causes the book to suffer from Saving Private Ryan syndrome. Namely, that in parts of Tigora's telling of the story, he talks about events that he could not possibly know about, since neither he nor Morana witnessed them. A more traditional narration could have prevented this problem.

And, alas, The Ugly: The book had no professional editing, and it shows. Yewl find typoes. Lot's ov tipeos. And sum reely, realey, long parigraphs. So, blame the publisher, suck it up, and keep reading.

But, I have no doubt that for the sequel (you will write a sequel, eh Michael?) he'll run it by an editor first.

Mistress of the Dragon by Michael R. Mennenga
Published by: PublishAmerica, Inc.; August 15, 2001
Webpage: www.dragonpage.com

About Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy succumbed to leiomyosarcoma on April 1, 2007. The irony of this is not lost on any who knew him and laughed with him. He was the first “official” book reviewer for The Dragon Page Radio Talk Show, and after moving to Arizona, he became a frequent contributor to Cover to Cover, Wingin’ It, Slice of SciFi and co-host of Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas.

He will be missed.

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