||A review by Peter D. Tillman|
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.
Copyright © 2008 Peter D. Tillman
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
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."
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.
"Wow," Chen remarked. "It's certainly baroque."
Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for
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.