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by Keith R. A. DeCandido
Pocket Star, August 2004
272 pages
ISBN: 0743467701

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

High fantasy novels are always about magnificent quests, larger than life heroes, earth-shattering sorcery, and the epic struggle of good vs. evil. DRAGON PRECINCT is a book about everyone else.

The city of Cliff's End is divided into several precincts. Caught between the upscale Unicorn Precinct and the grungy Goblin Precinct, the guardsmen and detectives of Dragon Precinct try to keep the peace and get through the day. This task is made more difficult by a serial rapist, an unlicensed portal spitting out hobgoblins, rumors of an evil sorcerer's return, clueless would-be heroes, and the mysterious arrival -- and deaths -- of the greatest champions of this world has ever known. Those last are the most puzzling challenge of all -- what could kill the famous fighters without leaving a single trace?

Beneath the swords and sorcery is a well-constructed set of hardboiled mysteries; Dragnet in a Dungeons and Dragons setting. Keith DeCandido's first original novel (he has written several tie-ins) is a well-paced, entertaining read. The mysteries are tight, logical (within the realm of magic), and enough clues are seeded through the story to give the readers a fighting chance to do their own detecting.

My only complaint is that DeCandido went for a lot of tongue-twisting terms and names. I got confused, particularly since I was keeping track of three sets of detectives and a handful of guardsmen, all with separate cases. It's a minor quibble though; I was never thrown out of the story, but I had a few extra "who . . . what . . . oh, yeah" moments.

DRAGON PRECINCT would be a good addition to the collection of anyone who likes high fantasy or who owns a pair of 20-sided dice. And fortunately this world has a long future ahead of it -- the main characters have already appeared again in the anthology MURDER BY MAGIC.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, October 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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