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The Dragon Quintet
edited by Marvin Kaye
Tor, 304 pages

The Dragon Quintet
Marvin Kaye
Author of 15 novels, 6 non-fiction books, several plays & play adaptations, and editor of 25 (and counting) fantasy, mystery and theatre anthologies, Marvin Kaye currently is editor of H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror, and contributes his column, "Marvin Kaye's Nth Dimension," to Science Fiction Chronicle. He has published books through his imprint, Marvin Kaye's Nth Dimension Books, a division of Wildside Press. A native of Philadelphia, he lives in New York, where he heads the tutoring staff of the Manhattan campus of Mercy College; is Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at NYU, and serves as Artistic Director for The Open Book, New York's oldest readers theatre company.

Marvin Kaye Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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"In the Dragon's House," by Orson Scott Card is a quaint and evocative piece about a large house and the atypical family that inhabits it. Card focuses his attention on Michael, a young boy growing up in his aunt and uncle's house. In addition to him are the numerous children his relatives care for as an informal foster home/community theatre. Card does a good job of focusing on Michael's insecurities as he realizes that he is not one of the foster kids, but still worried that some day it will be his turn to leave the only home he has ever really known. It is only after he explores the forbidden parts of the house that he discovers a real sense of belonging. Even as he settles in for a life he feels comfortable with, Card reveals the true horror of the situation to the reader.

Ker is the Jobian protagonist in "Judgment," by Elizabeth Moon. Walking with his future father-in-law, Tam, the two find strange round rocks which appear to be geodes. Immediately, Tam, a village elder, begins to show signs of greed and distrust towards Ker, although he gives the boy one of the "pretties" from within the rock. Unfortunately, from that point, Ker's fortunes begin to go downhill rapidly, beginning with the rupturing of his engagement to Lin, Tam's daughter. The story is an examination of greed, power and duty set against a fantastic backdrop of dragons, elves and dwarves.

Eroticism is heavy in Tanith Lee's "Love in a Time of Dragons." Lee's village is beset by a dragon and a variety of champions who come to rid them of the beast. A scullery maid at the local tavern feels an affinity for this dragon, which she has never seen, and vows to accompany one of the champions on his quest, with a strange twist in results. The story is suffused with sexual content which seems unnecessary for purposes of both plot and characterization. Instead, it detracts from the story which would have been tighter without it.

Although modern fantasy's queen of dragon literature, Anne McCaffrey is not represented in The Dragon Quintet, Mercedes Lackey's story "Joust," which has been expanded to novel-length, evokes comparisons to McCaffrey's work and fills the void which would otherwise have been felt. Like McCaffrey, Lackey has created a strictly hierarchical world in which dragonriders exist. As with McCaffrey, Lackey shows the day-to-day drudgery of caring for the dragons. Lackey's dragonboy, the serf Vetch has only an incomplete understanding of both the world from which he was rescued by the jouster Ari and the new world of dragons into which he is thrust, yet he is capable and intelligent enough to grab opportunities when they arise.

Kaye has elected to end the anthology with what is clearly the most original story in the quintet. "King Dragon," by Michael Swanwick is about a dragon which seems to be a mixture of a great reptile and an automaton in a world which is both technological and fantastic. After crashlanding in a village and losing his pilot, the dragon exerts his innate ability to take over the village and most notably the boy Will. One of the strengths of the story, which is also one of its weaknesses, is that Swanwick does not explicitly spell out the way the world of "King Dragon" works. While this causes some confusion, it simultaneously makes the story and its setting more intriguing.

Copyright © 2004 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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