Tom Holt,
Nothing But Blue Skies
(Orbit, 2001)

When it rains, it pours. And there are dragons to blame for it.

That dragons of the ancient Chinese variety are responsible for the rain is the central premise of Nothing But Blue Skies, another in Tom Holt's ongoing series of funny British novels that bring elements of legend to modern times. There are quite a lot of dragons in the story, but of primary importance is Karen (not her real name), who abdicates her role as an immortal guardian of the weather to work in an English realty office in the guise of a human. She's in love with a co-worker, and when she's sad or angry, it rains. This is, of course, perfectly normal in England.

There are also weathermen, at least some of whom are onto the existence of dragons and believe the overgrown iguanas exist solely to prove their televised prognostications wrong. There is a dragon prince who really wants to be a dragon king, but since dragons are immortal, his chances seem slim. There is a trio of rogue dragons, erstwhile "men in black," who seem to be building an ark for some reason or another. And there's a suspiciously important goldfish.

Holt seems incapable of writing an unfunny novel. (If he has, I hope someone lets me know about it.) Nothing But Blue Skies is far from his funniest work, and yet it had me laughing out loud at many points in the book. (This can be annoying to a girlfriend who's trying to sleep.) Still, Holt occasionally seems to be stretching a bit for a laugh; God's Big Book of Lists, for instance, is an out-of-place attempt at humor, and certain paranoid beliefs of the meteorologists seem closely akin to Holt's late, lamented television producer Danny Bennett, who is the Elvis of conspiracy theorists.

Minor complaints aside, there seems to be no such thing as a bad Holt book. Even the worst of them (relatively speaking) are pretty darned good, and there's none I wouldn't recommend to a good friend or Rambles reader for an entertaining time.

Just remember ... if the rain seems to be dogging your heels a bit much lately, perhaps you should try varying your goldfish's diet.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 22 May 2004

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