12 April 2010

Michael Swanwick - Dragons of Babel

  • Author: Michael Swanwick
  • Title: The Dragons of Babel
  • Publisher: Tor 2007
  • ISBN: 9780765319500
The Dragons of Babel is an expansion of and conclusion to Swanwicks short story "King Dragon."  The story of Will, who as a youngster is used by a crashed Dragon to dominate his home village.  After the Dragon is destroyed, Will is banished and in the process of trying to find a new life, encounters Esme, a girl with no memory. 

Will travels with Centaurs, spends time in a refugee camp, is prophesied over by a suicidal dwarf, finds Esmes mother, who promptly dies, and is shipped to Babel as part of a refugee resettlement scheme.  On the train, he is co-opted by Nat Whilk, conman, as an appretice in the art of Trickstering.

I don't like fantasy very much, despite the fact that I read a lot of the stuff.  Ok, so I do like it, but I am picky.  When I first read King Dragon, I thought that it would make an excellent novel and I was totally right.  Swanwick really understands the art of the twist, so throughout this novel, you never have any idea what is coming. The imagery is so vivid that you can see every coridor, building, creature and sunbeam.  And the ending is so bloody suprising, I laughed, then flicked back 5 chapters to check to see if I missed the clues.  Yes, I did, but that was very much on purpose on the part of Swanwick. 

This novel acts as a kind of sequel to The Iron Dragons Daughter,  which is set in the same universe as this story.  It's a parallel universe to our own, and in fact is just our world with magic and elves and other fantasy beasties.  Fricken elves.  They are such selfish bastards. 

I highly recommend this novel.  It doesn't require that you read the prior story or novel, so you can go and get it today.  Go on.  Quickly.  PS - Jacket Art by Stephan Martiniere