Have you read this book?
Dragon Moon is the second book in Alan F. Troop’s dragon series. Last May I posted a review of Troop’s first book, The Dragon DeLasangre. Although well-written, I was left thinking that it fell short because of its totally (for me) unsympathetic and unlikable main character Peter DeLasangre. I concluded, however, that Troop had enough potential for me to pick up his next.
Well I did, and after finishing Dragon Moon I’m left feeling the same way I felt after finishing the first.
SPOILER WARNING: If you plan on reading The Dragon DeLasangre, you might not want to read the rest of this review, as by talking about the plot of the second book, I’ll be giving away some of the events of the first.
At the end of the first book, Peter is left with a dead wife and a newborn son. Dragon Moon picks up the narrative some four years later, with his son Henri now a precocious four year-old. Peter has kept himself and Henri isolated on their island home, but the time has come for Henri to learn how to integrate into the human world. Too, Peter is feeling the pangs of loneliness and especially a desire for companionship of the female kind.
Troop makes a point to mention how distraught Peter still is over the death of his wife, yet from what I remember about the first book, Peter didn’t much care for his wife. Her attitude and sensibilities where quite different from his own and my impression was that their relationship was more biological than emotional. This is because once a female dragon comes of age, she releases her scent which then causes any male dragon within a bazillion miles to come running. First one to arrive gets the girl and their mating then makes them man and wife for life. This is how Peter ended up with his first wife.
What we learn in Dragon Moon is that Peter was much more taken with his wife’s younger sister, Chloe. Chloe was around thirteen when Peter first showed up and nabbed her sister. Now she’s getting close to coming of age, and Peter, to assure he’s the one she ends up with, moves close to her so he’ll be right there once she releases her scent. His plan results in various challenges, including some in-laws who aren’t too happy about their second daughter mating with the man (dragon) they consider to be responsible for their first daughter’s death, and therein lies the bulk of the story.
I thought Dragon Moon started rather slow, with the requisite backfill to bring the reader up to speed. We are reintroduced to Peter and meet Henri (at length) and are treated to a few chapters detailing how precocious Henri is and how lonely Peter is and how Peter is getting ready to take Henri to the mainland for the first time etc. Interesting enough, I suppose, but not really part of the main story, which commences once Peter relocates so he’s ready to jump on wife number two.
One thing I noticed in this book that I don’t recall from the first is Troop’s overuse of ‘ing’ on his verbs. I’ve mentioned this in my reviews of other books, so I won’t detail it again here, but he uses that construction often enough that I noticed it and it (sometimes) bothered me and made his sentences awkward.
My biggest reaction mirrors my reaction to the first book: I just don’t much care about or have sympathy for Peter or his kind. Troop’s dragons are selfish, self-centered, arrogant serial killers. In spite of Troop’s effort to make the human/dragon relationship complex, it can basically be summed up as Dragon Good, Humans Meat. Peter and the other dragons kill both purposely and randomly, with extreme callousness, for food or for revenge, or for ceremony or just because. His dragons, for me, don’t have any humanity.
Overall this is a well done book. After a slow start, the action picks up and stays high. The writing, except for all the ‘ing’ verbs, is smooth and vivid. The characters are well-developed. It’s unfortunate that they developed into characters I have no interest in reading about.
Having unlikable, even evil, main characters can work, but there must be some aspect of sympathy present, or something for the reader to identify with. Hannible Lector is a perfect example. A serial killer true, but there are parts of his character that readers are drawn to. He’s suave, he’s smooth, he’s cultured, he’s educated and intelligent. There’s an aspect to his life that we wouldn’t mind incorporating into our own. But with Troop’s dragons, that aspect was lacking. I just wasn’t interested in the lives of these characters. I didn’t care about them.
I’ll recommend this with the same caveat that I used to recommend the first: if you liked Anne Rice’s Vampire books, there’s a good chance you’ll like this, even though (IMO) Troop’s characters lack the human element that made Rice’s vampires sympathetic and interesting. After finishing Dragon Moon my disinterest in Peter DeLasangre and the rest of the dragon characters remains. Would I read the next? I don’t think so. I’m done with Peter. I’ll read another Troop book because I like his writing, but I’m going to pass on any future books in his dragon series.