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Dragon's Treasure
Elizabeth A. Lynn
Tor UK, 329 pages

Dragon's Treasure
Elizabeth A. Lynn
Elizabeth A. Lynn won two World Fantasy Awards in 1980 -- for her novel Watchtower, and for her short story "The Woman Who Loved the Moon." She is also the author of The Dancers of Arun, The Northern Girl, A Different Light, The Sardonyx Net, Dragon's Winter and the short fiction collection The Woman Who Loved the Moon and Other Stories. She has lived in New York, Cleveland, Chicago, and San Francisco, and is now settled in Northern California.

ISFDB Bibliography SF Site Review: Dragon's Winter SF Site Review: Dragon's Winter

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Victoria Strauss

Billed as a sequel to Dragon's Winter, Elizabeth A. Lynn's new novel, Dragon's Treasure, is actually an expansion of the events depicted in the brief final section of the previous book (which struck me at the time as being somewhat awkward, too long and eventful for an epilogue, not dramatic enough for a secondary climax, dissipating the fine tension of the epic tale that preceded it). While the first book was published by Ace in the US and Pan Macmillan in the UK, the second so far appears to be available only from Tor UK.

Dragonlord Karadur Atani, having warred with his sorcerer brother Tenjiro to regain the dragon birthright that Tenjiro stole, finds himself uneasy in the peace that follows. Of all the shapechangers in the world -- hawk and bear and wolf, all settled among their own kin and kind -- only Dragon is alone. Karadur longs for others like himself, or, if they are not to be found, for a woman through whom he can pass on his blood. His choice to marry would be welcomed by all his household, except, perhaps, his long-time lover, the crippled bard Azil Aumson.

When one of Karadur's tenant farmers is murdered by a bandit band, Karadur, with his Dragon temper, takes a terrible revenge, summoning Dragon fire to burn the bandits' stronghold and everyone in it. Two survive: healer Maia Unamira diSorvino, and her half-brother Treion, leader of the bandits (who, unbeknownst to Karadur, may be Karadur's bastard brother). Maia flees to the house her mother once lived in, which stands on Karadur's land. There, the hermit's life she wants to lead is interrupted by a chance encounter with Karadur; each knows who the other is, but even so a spark is kindled between them. Meanwhile, Treion and his outlaw followers make their way south, robbing and murdering; at last their atrocities go too far, and Treion is captured and given into Karadur's hands. Treion expects death, but Karadur, who knows that Maia loves her brother, has different plans. As these unfold, Azil, who sees the growing bond between Karadur and Maia and knows where it must lead, decides upon a fateful course of action.

Lynn brings her complex characters to life in fluid, sparing prose, vividly evoking Karadur's loneliness, the tranquility Maia finds in exile, Treion's despair and anger, Azil's growing sadness. Settings are exquisitely depicted: the bee-buzzing meadows around Maia's cottage, the great city of Ujo, the stark grandeur of Karadur's mountainous domain. The threads of plot that bind these lovely images together are loose and light, sometimes knotting into dramatic confrontations but often vanishing entirely as Lynn explores odd corners of her world and of her characters' personal experiences. In this, I'm reminded of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Other Wind, with its emphasis on the mundane concerns and small details of daily life. But in The Other Wind this was meant to serve as a counterpoint to the epic story, a reminder that the minutiae of ordinary life are as vital a part of the world as the heroic events that surround them. Despite moments of drama in Dragon's Treasure, and classic epic elements like Treion's quest for revenge against the man who dishonored his mother, that sort of overarching mythic plotline is absent from Dragon's Treasure. The ultimate impression is less of a high fantasy novel than of a series of jewel-like cameos in a high fantasy setting.

Though assuming events from Dragon's Winter, and following many of the same characters -- not just primary, but secondary, such as Hawk the warrior and Shem the wolf-boy -- Dragon's Treasure is self-contained enough to be read on its own. The ending brings resolution, but enough is left open to suggest that at least one more book could follow. I hope so. This may not be a novel of great deeds or startling adventure, but its very quietness is something to savor, and both the world and the characters -- as well as Lynn's beautiful writing -- are well worth revisiting.

Copyright © 2004 Victoria Strauss

Victoria Strauss is a novelist, and a lifelong reader of fantasy and science fiction. Her most recent fantasy novel, The Burning Land, is available from HarperCollins Eos. For more information, visit her website.

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