From Publishers Weekly
This colorful series opener from comic fantasist Asprin (Myth-Chief
) introduces lazy con artist Griffen McCandles, who got through business school on his charm and quick wits and now expects to be given a job working for his uncle Malcolm's company. Then Malcolm reveals that Griffen and his sister, Valerie, are near pureblood dragons, expected to chose sides in an international battlefield of magic and ancient rivalries. With assassins and a professional dragon-slayer on their trail, Griff and Val head for New Orleans (with no mention of Hurricane Katrina) to ally with Mose, an unlicensed casino operator and leader of a band of renegade dragons who hope Griff can bring them some respect as well as power. Asprin promises much but delivers little, apparently saving his plots for later books, but with all the characters and factions now in place, the series may eventually develop into something more engaging. (Apr.)
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As one of sf’s preeminent anthologists, Dann has sifted through tales about unicorns, computer intelligence, and far-distant futures. In his latest gathering of original short stories, he revisits the gold mine of Australian speculative fiction that enriched his and Janeen Webb’s award-winning compilation Dreaming Down-Under (1998). As with that volume, Dann’s aim is to chafe at the boundaries of Australian sf, horror, and fantasy as well as cover the full spectrum of new and established Australian authors. A colorfully diverse mixture of themes and narrative techniques enlivens tales about alien first contact, dystopian future civilizations, and outback ghosts. An Aussie archeologist discovers a literal Kingdom of the Dead concealed behind an Egyptian cave wall. In a fable about the country’s early colonization, a sheepherder meets his future wife in a woman born from a jacaranda tree. Once again, Dann channels the exuberant, literary lifeblood of the continent down under into a superior assortment of well-crafted fiction that constitutes an indispensable resource for the fiction shelves. --Carl Hays