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The Dragon Delasangre

Alan F. Troop

ROC / New American Library /Penguin Putnam

US Mass Market Paperback First

ISBN 0-451-45871-5

292 Pages ; $5.99

Date Reviewed: 02-18-02

Reviewed by: Katie Dean © 2003



Horror, Fantasy

02-14-02, 02-25-03

The traditional dragons of fairytales and fantasy are huge monsters with an insatiable thirst for human blood. They hunt by night and by day have the power to take on any shape they choose. 'The Dragon Delasangre' (Alan F. Troop) is not just another fantasy novel about dragons. It takes the reader into the mind of one dragon, Peter Delasangre, and reveals a surprisingly human face to this ancient race of creatures. Set primarily in Florida, this novel focuses on one dragon's struggle to strike a balance between conforming to the human world in which he lives and remaining true to his dragon roots.

The voice of Delasangre appears realistic and reveals that dragons have the same needs and anxieties as their human prey. Peter has been brought up on a lonely island just off the Florida coast. An only child, his mother had always been fascinated by humans and persuaded Peter's father, the famous pirate dragon, Don Henri, to allow his son to be educated by humans. Peter, as a result, has an uncommon sympathy with the human species, so much so that he refuses to kill at random and definitely regards children as off limits when it comes to food. In the end this sympathetic streak brings unexpected complications and danger to his life. However, we also learn from him what it is to be a dragon. These creatures live for hundreds of years, they can change shape at will, need to hunt and eat fresh meat and, like many animals have an exceptional sense of smell and hearing. Whilst the novel reads like the diary of a man, it is hard to believe that the creature writing this is actually a dragon, making the accounts of dragon rituals rather surreal, but nevertheless remains entertaining.

The setting for this novel is beautifully drawn. The description of mainland Florida rings true, whilst the scenes set in Jamaica are equally well portrayed. Delasangre's island is painted as a desolate key crowned by an enormous castle built by his father Don Henri Delasangre. The Castle is described in detail and lives up to anyone's expectations of the home of a dragon.

Troop has managed to create a novel that builds gradually to an exciting climax. Seemingly irrelevant actions of Peter near the beginning of the novel soon become central to the entire story. The plot line is twofold; on the one hand is Peter's search for a dragon wife, on the other his struggle against an unknown or perhaps many unknown human enemies. The mystery is cunningly pieced together as Troop feeds small pieces of information to the reader all of which finally come together in the final pages of the book. Whilst this string of events in Peter's life is finally resolved, Troop also manages to leave some 'unfinished business', opening the way for the sequel, 'Dragon Moon'.

Anyone who enjoys fantasy should read 'The Dragon Delasangre'. It is a fascinating characterization of a dragon and manages to move beyond the potential for banality and create a novel exploring the idea of the conflict experienced by a strange creature living in a human world. Troop's novel is easy to read and maintains interest, the plot is carefully crafted and the climax exactly what one would expect from a good horror or fantasy novel.