Saturday, April 17, 2010


Some 200 years after actual fire-breathing dragons are discovered in the wilds of Australia, Draco australiensis is seriously endangered.  Among the small number of dragon sanctuaries is Smokehill, a National Park in North America, where Jake Mendoza has grown up with his parents, the directors of the park.  Since the death of his mother two years ago, his father has been kind of overprotective, but finally agrees to let Jake go out into the park with one of the Rangers and then go on for an overnight solo hike. 

Jake walks straight to a dying dragon lying next to a dead poacher and the dragon's newborn babies, also dead--all but one.  But the only thing more illegal than killing a dragon is acting in any way to preserve the life of a dragon.

Robin McKinley is one of my favorite fantasy writers.  Her retellings of fairy tales are very evocative.  Lately she's been writing more in the urban fantasy vein--her book before this one, Sunshine, is the best vampire novel I've read in some time--although this one is more like wilderness fantasy, since there's absolutely nothing urban anywhere in it.  Still, the setting is contemporary, and rigorously realistic.  Aside from the dragons, of course.  It just makes the dragons seem more realistic as well.  Great stuff, and highly recommended.

Originally posted at MySpace 1/21/08

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