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Dragon's Tongue: Book One of The Demon-Bound by Laura J. Underwood
Review by Harriet Klausner
Meisha Merlin Publishing, Inc. Book  ISBN/ITEM#: 1592220282
Date: April 2006 / Show Official Info /

Tane wants to find the legendary Dragon's Tongue that will make its owner a god. The object is hidden in Shadow Vale, a place where the Old Ones and the malevolent Shadows lived before the Great Cataclysm. When Vagner fails to steal the whole map that leads to Shadow Tongue, he devises an ingenuous plan to kidnap Alaric and force him to sing the song that Ronan taught him. Unfortunately Alaric no longer remembers the lyrics even under Tane's torture. Vagner sees an opportunity to free both of them from Tane. Meanwhile the High Mage concludes that Alaric is demon marked and sends all the magicians to hunt him and Vagner down. Fenelon and his mage lover Etienne and her apprentice Shona risk their lives to keep Alaric safe and free while Tane also hunts them.

Book one of the Demon Bound is a terrific fantasy in the tradition of Holly Lisle and Andre Norton that showcases how good Laura J. Underwood really is. The author creates characters that readers care about and not just the champions; fans will even sympathize with Vagner who initially seems evil, but displays human characteristics of desiring freedom and caring for others; in this case the well-being of Alaric. The audience will loathe Tane, a vile villain for what he has done to the demon and hope he will receive his just rewards.

Dragon's Tongue is a quest fantasy similar to that of the Lord of the Rings and the Shannara novels. The hero and his allies will sacrifice themselves if it means insuring the Dragon's Tongue remains in a safe place where no one can obtain it and subsequently use it.

Alaric goes through many more trials and tribulations than what is described above. Ultimately he learns the key lesson that Fenelon wanted to imbue him with. Magic users have responsibilities to try to do the right thing, but never panic regardless of what fate throws at you. Fans will appreciate the teacher, as Fenelon is sort of like Yoda with a significant other. He provides the social conscience as well as humor to the mix. As his different roles surfaced this reviewer started to think of Miller's song "The Joker" as Fenelon is a mentor, a friend, and a world savior who is also a prankster.

Witty dialog, exciting action, high drama, and a strong cast that enables the audience to see deep into the heart of the key players (or whatever organ Tane has) makes this excellent book worthy of an award nomination.

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