Friday, February 9, 2018

Book Review: 'Day of the Dragonking' by Edward Irving

Washington, DC author Edward B (Terry) Irving made his literary debut with COURIER in 2014 and follows that with DAY OF THE DRAGONKING which appears to be the opening volume of a series he calls THE LAST AMERICAN WIZARD. Edward is a four-time Emmy award-winning writer and producer. He has also won three Peabody Awards, three DuPont Awards, and has been a producer, editor, or writer with ABC, CNN, Fox and MSNBC. Oh, and he has a wild fantasy world.

Edward treats his readers well by offering a definition of a dragonking (‘A dragonking is an enormous disruption so powerful that it is outside all standard parameters (a king) and acts according to rules so mysterious that they resemble nothing else (a dragon). Dragonking events have been identified in such enormously complex systems as financial markets, forest fires, earthquakes, epileptic seizures in the human brain, climate change, and the extinction of species. A dragonking comes without warning, causes immense destruction, and leaves unforeseeable changes in its wake.’

He then offers a Prologue (an hors d'oeuvre) that not only sets the tone of the story but also introduces us to his writing style – which just grows better through the book: ‘The soft tone sounded and the Fasten Seatbelt signs winked out over the 418 passengers on American International’s flight 1143, the airline’s morning flight from New York to Los Angeles. The two men and one woman in seats 17A, 17B, and 17C unhooked and pulled down their folding tables. They were all wearing the classic uniform of young information workers on the way up– blue or white button-down shirts with ties with the stripes of fictional British clubs for the men, and a white button-down shirt with a floppy green bow tie for the woman. The older woman in 17D across the aisle glanced at them as she was settling in and instantly identified them as accountants or consultants or some equally tedious species of young professional. She lost herself in the romance novel in her electronic reader and forgot them. The man in 17A– short and a bit overweight with the pale chin and cheeks of someone who just shaved off a beard– bent down and unzipped the front pocket of the leather backpack he had placed under the seat in front of him. From this pocket, he slid out a metal box with an air of reverence. It was silver and about the right size and shape for carrying a bar of soap…. Switching hands, the three young people reached for the cards in the center of the ritual cloths in front of them with their right hands and, again without any visible signal, turned them face up. Chaos erupted.’

The story? It is almost unfair to unveil it before reading, but a bit won’t hurt: A mystical terrorist group (see above!) sacrifices an airplane full of innocents to a dragon and uses the deaths to power an event that wreaks magical havoc on Washington, D.C. All the wizards in the U.S. government’s employ abruptly lose access to magic, and the world’s computers and gadgets become sentient.The safe house? The nation’s capital where, along with transforming Democrats into potbellied elves, Republicans into cantankerous dwarves, and Tea Party members into trolls, the Change has granted struggling freelance journalist Steve Rowan the abilities of the Tarot Arcana’s Fool card, making him a powerful, yet unreliable, wizard. Realizing his potential, he is “hired” by the trivia-obsessed sentient computer Barnaby and coupled with the attractive, no-nonsense female Navy SEAL Ace Morningstar to uncover the puppet masters behind the plane crash.

Edward has a great time poking fun at politics (he should know, being from Washington, DC), popping fantasy into technology, and making his apparent scary story into a parody – laughing all the way. Grady Harp, May 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.