Review

Love in the Time of Dragons: A Novel of the Light Dragons

by Katie MacAlister

I’ve always had a thing for dragons, from fearsome Smaug
in J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT to the flying serpents of Anne
McCaffrey’s Pern novels, from the Inheritance
Trilogy
(ERAGON, et al.) by teenage phenom Christopher Paolini
to Robin McKinley’s resonant DRAGONHAVEN. Not to mention HOW
TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (although I haven’t read the books, the
movie version’s lead dragon is infinitely endearing).

But I’m talking dragons born out of huge eggs, dragons
with scales and tails, wings, horns, and teeth. Big. Fierce.
Fire-breathing. In Katie MacAlister’s world, though, dragons
only intermittently (usually when fighting) display these
characteristics. They look human, they act (more or less) human,
and in the case of Baltic --- the wyvern, or leader, of one sept,
or tribe, of dragons --- they are endowed with absolutely magnetic
sex appeal.

The heroine, and Baltic’s soul mate, is named Tully --- or
is it Ysolde? She is the married modern mother of nine-year-old
Brom --- or is she actually a dragon princess many hundreds of
years old who has died and been reborn at least once? Well, she is
both these things. Tully (I’ll call her that for convenience)
has been plagued by what she calls fugue states or dreams, but
these, it soon transpires, are really memories of an earlier life
in which she and Baltic were mated. Long story short, when
Tully’s past smashes up against her present-day existence,
she has an identity crisis, Baltic returns from the dead (yeah,
him, too), and genre-bending high jinks ensue.

The alternate universe in which LOVE IN THE TIME OF DRAGONS
takes place will already be familiar to loyal MacAlister fans, for
it has been constructed systematically over a number of books
dealing with various hues of dragons (each sept is a different
color and nationality). To novices like me, it took a little
getting used to (a glance at the author’s website, katiemacalister.com, will help to orient you), but
it’s clear from the start that two things make this
author’s fantasy creations more pleasurable and inventive
than most: her sense of humor and her spirit of sexy (very sexy)
fun.

Fantasy can get wearisome if it is unremittingly grave. Although
I adore serious sagas like The Lord of the Rings, even
Tolkien gave us comic relief (mulish dwarves, feckless hobbits),
and it’s nice to encounter a book that sets out to be
amusing. MacAlister likes to tweak the staples of sitcom drama with
weird magic: Brom is a normal kid, except his hobby is
mummification; when Tully becomes Baltic’s mate, Brom gets a
dragon stepfather, a paranormal variation on the blended family;
Jim, a Newfoundland dog with a wisecracking verbal style, is
actually a demon; Tully is distressed when it turns out she is 300
years old and Baltic (since his rebirth) only 39. And my personal
favorite: Tully insists on catering the dragons’
sárkány, or formal conference, and threats and
negotiations are spliced with random comments about the array of
trendy goodies --- tapenade, arancini, cherry mini-scones, lemon
sorbet --- on the table. It’s as if Gandalf showed up on
“Top Chef.”

The cover art --- a muscular male torso emblazoned with a dragon
tattoo --- is a clue that this book is x-rated. If the
Twilight series is like an extended necking session,
Baltic and Tully’s love scenes make the case for unbridled
lust. It’s surprising just how prim a lot of fantasy and
sci-fi is. In Star Wars I loved Carrie Fisher’s
earphone hair and Harrison Ford’s slightly oafish derring-do,
but their relationship wasn’t exactly steamy. The chaste,
spiritual romance in Tolkien and Harry Potter’s teenage
flirting aren’t adult material, either. Here, the sex is,
well, fiery. In fact, given the dragon participants, sometimes real
flames are involved. Talk about burning love….

Clearly, LOVE IN THE TIME OF DRAGONS will have sequels. It is
the first in a series devoted to the light dragons
(meaning they encompass all colors), a new sept founded by Baltic
and Tully, and, as always, the different factions are at war. Will
Tully find a way to give peace a chance? With Baltic as a role
model, will Brom grow up boy or dragon? Will Baltic and Tully find
even more interesting positions in which to make love?
Stay tuned.

Reviewed by Kathy Weissman on January 6, 2011

Love in the Time of Dragons: A Novel of the Light Dragons
by Katie MacAlister

  • Publication Date: May 4, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Signet
  • ISBN-10: 0451229711
  • ISBN-13: 9780451229717