by James A. Hetley
Review by Paul Haggerty
Ace Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0441013287
Date: 01 November, 2005 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The Morgans are a family of smugglers and thieves, but not robbers. They make a fine distinction there. Thieves have honor and style, and if they do their job properly, you'll never know they were there. Robbers are just thugs. Then there are the Pratts. This family is the counterpoint to the Morgans. They're another pack of thieves, but without the good manners and high philosophy of the Morgans. They're the thugs previously mentioned. And lastly, there's the Haskells, more a long line of master and apprentice then a family, the Haskells are line of witches who use their spells and abilities to protect the land, the innocent, and the helpless. Although feared for their abilities, the townsfolk still know where to turn to when things get so bad they can no longer be ignored.
Into this mix falls a drug lord and sorcerer. Attracted by the rumors of a powerful being known as the Dragon, a source of magical powers which has been possessed by the Morgans for centuries, he arranges to kidnap the current head of the family, and by doing so, steal his power for himself. Being the new badest thing in town, he has no fear of the Morgans or the Haskells. He's quite sure he has all the bases covered and the locals had better submit or else. But nothing is exactly what it seems, everybody has been lying to everyone else for generations, and the truth of many mysteries has been lost to the centuries, until the current crop of Morgans barely remembers the how of things, never mind the why. But despite they're much lowered abilities; the Morgans still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Now the eldest Morgan is a seventeen-year-old kid named Gary. In order to protect what remains of his family, not to mention keep the power of the Dragon out of evil hands, Gary must discover his birthright, master the power of the Dragon, learn all the secrets of the family that have been denied him until now, and come up with a clever plan to defeat a powerful sorcerer and the pack of murderous thugs he's taken under his control. Fortunately for him, the Haskell witch is of a mind to back the Morgans over the Pratts. Her power, assisted by the spirit of the land itself, can make all the difference. If only she weren't a young woman unsure of her powers and mired in relationship problems of her own.
Somehow, all the young people are going to have to come to grips with themselves, their powers, and their duties if evil is to be thwarted. Because if the sorcerer gets control over The Dragon, no one is likely to survive.
The book has a few slow spots, mostly surrounding revelations where we are treated to details of how the Morgans and the Haskells are really much more than we've been led to believe. Of course after the first surprise or two, there isn't much surprise left, just new details to absorb. There are a few false trails where you think the book is going one place and instead veers of in another, and few parts where the requirements of plot cause the characters to do some really stupid things (making you want to reach into the book and give them a good kick). But mostly it's a good action story with a cast of not terrible deep characters.