Jim Eckert is living in an ordinary modern world, waiting for Angie on a bright September morning while Grottwold is keeping her busy as his lab assistant. They are on the verge of proving astral projection is possible and believe they can set the spirit free to wander outside the body.
Jim's obvious discontent with the situation is overly apparent and when he has to wait for Angie again he becomes incensed and decides these delaying tactics have occurred for the last time. Just as Jim bursts into the room, Angie disappears from under a helmet-like hair dryer.
Unfortunately, Angie has apported in an experiment that should have only caused astral projection. Both Grottwold and Jim have absolutely no idea where she has taken off to, however it is revealed that she was concentrating on dragons. With a single heroic decision, Jim is thrust into a medieval world as he takes his seat to project his spirit in the same direction as Angie is thought to have gone.
As fate would have it, he forgets to think about Angie and ends up thinking about dragons. This lands him in the body of a dragon and his first thought of wanting to tear Grottwold to shreds brings him to the awareness of his less than human self. Jim awakens to the reality that he is now a talking dragon who everyone knows as Gorbash.
Overall, there is a subtle humor, which now and then catches you unawares. The conversational style changes at times and flows more into pictures painted with words so you really enter a medieval land filled with adventures and moments of brilliance.
Angie's character is not at all fully developed in this story and I am hoping she will evolve more fully in the rest of the series. Once she disappears, we learn very little about her and only know she is trapped in the Loathly Tower, a place of pure evil. Jim has to fight his chivalrous urges to save her immediately and fears she may be in mortal danger. When he meets up with a magician, he is told not to worry about her until he can find companions to help save her.
"Far ahead to the west, the sky was on fire with sunset. It lighted all the fens, the meres and the causeway with a red glow which lay bloodily on earth and grass and stunted trees; and it pooled just ahead, around a low hill, at a rise of a hundred feet or more above the seashore where, touched but uncolored by that same dying light there loomed over all, amongst great, tumbled boulders, the ruined, dark and shattered shell of a tower as black as jet." pg. 231, a description of the Loathly Tower
Gordon Dickson presents each character so you are very aware of their presence in the story and then once they have your heart, he puts them in mortal danger one after the other. Each character (besides Angie) has such a personality, you can literally hear their voice. Aragh the English wolf is so very independent and yet he ends up proving that beneath the growl and bite, there is a much more caring creature just waiting for the opportunity to show his ultimate loyalty.
The romance is mild and is far from the main point of the story. If you are enchanted with the thought of what it would be like to be a dragon and fly above a medieval landscape, this will be less of a consideration. At some points in the plot, Jim/Gorbash looses his focus and just seems to enjoy being a dragon.
There is never a moment when you wish Jim would turn back into his human form. Glimpses of dragon life are interwoven with modern thought and a touch of philosophy in such a creative way, Jim is never fully an animal and yet never fully human. He takes on the best of both worlds and approaches each challenge in a thoughtful manner.
Thank you to my favorite dragon person for
sending me this exciting gift. It was an enthralling
Onward to The Dragon Knight.
~The Rebecca Review