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Precious Dragon
Liz Williams
Night Shade Books, 248 pages

Precious Dragon
Liz Williams
Liz Williams has spent most of her life in academic philosophy. She did a doctorate in epistemology of science at Cambridge. Today, she works in the field of educational consultancy, bringing students from Central Asia to study in Britain.

Liz Williams Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Precious Dragon
SF Site Review: Snake Agent
SF Site Review: The Poison Master
SF Site Review: Empire of Bones
SF Site Interview: Liz Williams
SF Site Review: The Ghost Sister

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

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Precious Dragon opens slowly and somewhat confusingly, as Liz Williams has to set three or four parallel story-trains into motion. Unlike the first two D.I. Chen books, you definitely shouldn't start here. Even readers who've read the first two book may be doing a bit of head-scratching (and toe-tapping) until she gets all her balls into the air.

But then -- wow! All the cool stuff I've loved in the first two books, and more! Viz, Chen musing on his mortality, aboard the Hell-Bound Train:

"When he died, as a devoted servant of the Goddess Kuan Yin, Most Merciful and Compassionate, he might reasonably expect to enter Heaven. Okay, he'd married a demon. His right-hand man was from Hell. On a previous, unfortunate occasion, he'd used the goddess' sacred image as a battering ram. Good thing she was Merciful and Compassionate..."
The Hell-Bound Train! Can there be a more resonant image in SF&F, either in words or as pictures? Williams' iteration is spectacular:
"It was bullet-shaped, black and silver..., coruscated with magnificent ornamentation. Its engine was encased in the head of a centipede: of a kueri, and the name on its side read STORM LORD."

"Wow," Chen remarked. "It's certainly baroque."

Which isn't a bad description of Williams's book. Plus, it made me smile a lot. Liz Williams is a Jack Vance fan, and it shows. I haven't quite decided who Zhu Irzh, "large as life and twice as unnatural," reminds me of... Not quite as finely-crafted as the first two, in my judgement, but if you've come this far, you won't want to stop now.

Copyright © 2008 Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Amazon, Infinity-Plus, SF Site, and others. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. Google "Peter D. Tillman" +review for many more of Pete's reviews.


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