Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Dragons of Babel-Michael Swanwick

The Dragons of Babel
Michael Swanwick
Tor, Jan 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9780765319500

In a tiny village east of Avalon and on the edge of the Old Forest, young orphan Will le Fey and others saw the war dragons with their riders soaring in the sky. Whereas the others fled to the safety of their village from either side of the war as the basilisk are as nasty to the innocent civilians as the dragons and their half mortal riders; Will stayed to watch although an explosion warped time.

Not long afterward, a wingless crippled dragon with holes in his fuselage crawled out of the Old Forest and collapsed in the village. The villagers assume he belongs to Will, instead this feral beast made of flesh and metal owns the lad and declares he is the king of this area From that point forward, every evening, the somewhat healing dragon uses the boy to learn of any insurrections until the locals exile Will. The patrol capture him as no wanders the land and take him to a refugee camp run more like a prison. However, conmander Nat Whilk frees Will whose odyssey continues below the food chain at the sewerage and stinking tunnels beneath the Dread Tower of Babel as he learns the key lesson of the politically powerful to get what they want regardless of the costs to others such as the use of war as a mechanism to stay in power.

This hardcore fantasy uses mythological characters to tell a coming of age saga of a young man who learns that Lord Acton was right as power corrupts. Politicians including are skewed by Michael Swanwick through the lessons learned by the hero as he climbs the stairwell up the Tower Of Babel until he can achieve his objective winning the hand of the Elven woman he loves, but was too far above him in social class. Readers who appreciate a hardcore fantasy satire will enjoy Mr. Swanick’s version of New York City as THE DRAGONS OF BABEL will never give up power willingly risking the lives of patriots who are someone else’s offspring.

Harriet Klausner

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