Alan F. Troop,
Dragon Moon
(Roc, 2003)

Here there be dragons of a wonderfully inventive new breed that transcends the notions of myth and legend to take on a thoroughly modern form. Dragon Moon picks up where Troop's earlier novel, The Dragon DelaSangre, leaves off, with a widowed Peter DeleSangre caring for his young son on an island off the Florida coast, overseeing his lucrative business remotely while he waits for young Henri to reach a level of maturity sufficient to allow for his introduction into the world of humans.

To all appearances, the People of the Blood, or dragons in this venue, are -- aside from their brilliant green eyes -- indistinguishable from humans, able to shape themselves into whatever form they desire. Only when they are safe from human eyes do they assume their natural dragon form, free to fly and hunt as they please. They do feed off humans out of necessity, but those who serve them well are rewarded and taken care of. It is not an easy life, but Peter's absolute devotion and love for his young son comes before his own natural desires to find a new mate.

For the five years following the death of his wife Elizabeth, he thinks only about her younger sister Chloe, waiting for her to come of age before journeying to Jamaica in an attempt to make her his bride. While most female dragons, upon reaching sexual maturity, mate with the first male they come in contact with, Peter truly loves Chloe. It is, in both human and dragon ways, an unusual courtship, one that leads Peter to the brink of either joy or sorrow. Little does he realize at the time that this moment of emotional truth marks only the beginning of his stresses and travails; soon, he will find himself poisoned and at the point of death, Chloe locked away from his reach, his beloved son taken from him and another Person of the Blood impersonating him back home on the mainland in an effort to steal both his company and his horde of wealth.

While I have not read Troop's first book containing the first-person account of Peter DelaSangre's earlier years, I can safely say that Dragon Moon is eminently satisfying on its own. While Peter is a dragon by birth, he is remarkably human as a result of his experiences among men and women, and aside from his occasional slaughter and eating of humans, he is quite the dashing hero. His deep love for his son and for Chloe, as well as his interest in human pursuits, marks him as a very distinctive dragon; the fears, loves, regrets, dreams and other emotional feelings and wishes he communicates are universally understood, making him an incredibly sympathetic character.

Troop inevitably draws comparisons, both good and bad, to Anne Rice, and I for one am at something of a loss to explain why this should be so. It is true that he has basically invented a brand new concept and history of dragons, remaking them in a thoroughly modern form, one that this book apparently explores in more detail than Troop's previous novel. Peter and Chloe also do spend a lot of time mating, but this is essentially just an expression of their love for one another. While Rice luxuriates in her prose, however, Troop maintains a riveting pace that manages to explore his characters rather deeply without ever impacting on the action and suspense. Ultimately, Dragon Moon is a work of fantasy about loss and love, the importance of family, honor and bravery, making this tale of modern dragons a thoroughly human story.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 26 July 2003

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