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Dragon Tempest
Don Callander
Ace Books, 243 pages

Art: Eric J.W. Lee
Dragon Tempest
Don Callander
Don Callander's previous work features the character Tom Whitehead in Dragon Companion (1994) and Dragon Rescue (1995). As well, his Mancer series featuring Douglas Brightglade includes Pyromancer (1992), Aquamancer (1992), Geomancer (1994), and Aeromancer (1997).

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Aeromancer

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

Don Callander's latest book Dragon Tempest, the third book in the Dragon series, follows the exploits of Thomas Whitehead, a librarian from Iowa magically transported to the magical kingdom of Carolna. Tom's new home has knights and castles, magic, and talking animals. In the first book, Tom meets a dragon who finds him interesting enough to "adopt" him as his Dragon Companion. There's nothing mystical or magical about the relationship; the title is bestowed on anyone who is allowed to ride a dragon. Tom and the dragon, Retruance Constable, have a number of adventures together, including driving invaders out of a castle, rescuing a princess, and capturing a traitor to the king. By the end of the book, Tom wins knighthood, the hand of the fair princess, and a sizable piece of land to call his own. In the second book, Tom and Retruance search for Retruance's sire, who has been missing for ten years and, of course, have another series of adventures.

In Dragon Tempest, Tom's fair wife, Amanda, very pregnant with their first child, is kidnapped while Tom is away securing belongings for their new home. He returns to find Amanda, Mornie (her lady-in-waiting), and Mornie's two sons gone. Tom, Clem (Mornie's husband), and Retruance, his faithful companion, begin to search for them. Before long, though, the King arrives with a ransom note, instructing Tom and Clem to travel to Sharp Point. When they arrive, they find a magical unmanned ship which immediately sets sail as they step on board. With Retruance following just out of sight, they sail along. Before they arrive at their final destination, however, a storm destroys the ship, leaving them without a clue as to the location of the kidnapper or their spouses and children.

If you are a fan of Callander's other books, no doubt you'll enjoy this one as well. Dragon Tempest is classic Don Callander. The heroes are all clean-cut, well-mannered, and full of uncommonly good common sense. The bad guys are never really that bad, and the good guys are always willing to give them a chance to reform themselves. Dragon Tempest wanders into a gray area or two (when is kidnapping forgivable -- when it's for a good cause?) but on the whole, there is never anything objectionable in one of Callander's books. While I've enjoyed more than a couple of them, I find that after a while, their appeal starts to wear off. The stories become rather predictable because you know what's going to happen -- nothing ever really bad happens, no one is injured, no one dies, the hero always arrives in time save the day... I do think, however, that his books might be very appealing to younger readers or to parents who enjoy reading longer books to their children. Adult readers may certainly enjoy them as well, but fans of dark fantasy, evil sorcery, and bloody conflict are well advised to look elsewhere.

Copyright © 1998 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.

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