Dragon Precinct
"All in all, this is a fascinating excursion in genre-bending; worth a try even for readers who usually take either their procedurals or their fantasies unadulterated."
---Elliott Swanson, Booklist, August 2004

Dragon Precinct

Dragon Precinct cover, art by Romas Kukalis

by Keith R.A. DeCandido
on sale now from Pocket Books

"Getting the Chair" in Murder by Magic, edited by Rosemary Edghill, on sale now from Warner Aspect

"Crime of Passion" in Hear Them Roar, edited by C.J. Henderson & Patrick Thomas, on sale now from Wilder Publications

"House Arrest" in Bad-Ass Faeries, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Lee Hillman, & Jeff Lyman, on sale now from Marietta Publishing

"A Clean Getaway" in Pandora's Closet, edited by Jean Rabe, on sale now from DAW Books

I have always been a huge fan of police procedurals. My favorite TV show is Homicide: Life on the Street, which has come closer than most to accuracy in terms of police procedure on the screen; my first novel, Spider-Man: Venom's Wrath, was a police procedural, thinly disguised as a superhero novel. The book upon which the Homicide show was based, David Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, is the best true-crime book I've ever read, and Simon's HBO series The Wire is also a favorite.

"Dragon Precinct is The Sword of Shannara by way of JAG--and it works beautifully. ... DeCandido is a very good storyteller. His take on the back alleys (so to speak) of epic fantasy is light but not comic, and his characters are energetic and engaging. With luck, we'll see more of the Dragon Precinct."
---Penny Kenny, Starlog, October 2004
In addition, I've been a fan of high fantasy since my parents gave me Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy to read as a kid. I was also a big gamer in high school and college, often found playing Dungeons & Dragons with my friends on nights and weekends. Over the years, I made several attempts to write a fantasy novel, often involving fictional versions of two D&D characters I played, Torin ban Wyvald -- a red-haired fighter who left a peaceful, utopian home to seek adventure -- and Danthres Tresyllione -- a half-elf, half-human fighter with a serious attitude problem. Unfortunately, every attempt I made didn't work -- there was nothing to set the stories I was writing apart from every other proto-medieval fantasy out there that was simply riffing on the standard D&D-esque setting (which was, in turn, nothing more than a riff on Tolkien).

"[A] likeable pair of heroes and a grittily realistic setting filled with magic and mayhem. A good choice for most libraries."
---Jackie Casada, Library Journal
It wasn't until 2002, in a conversation with Pocket Books editor John J. Ordover, that I finally found the twist I was looking for: combining high fantasy with a police procedural. The world was, after all, being inundated with both genres separately -- the numerous Law & Order series, The Shield, and NYPD Blue on television, and a huge rise in true-crime books and fiction about police after 11 September 2001 on the cop side; the success of the Lord of the Rings films, the Harry Potter books and films, the novels of George R.R. Martin, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, etc., on the fantasy side -- so why not put them together?

"I really hope DeCandido will continue to explore the setting and the characters, and develop Cliff's End more. Right now, this is Hawk and Fisher-lite, but it has the potential to be just as good, maybe even better, than that series. And that's saying something in my opinion. Go ahead and check this one out."
---Michael M. Jones, SFSite, August 2004
The result is Dragon Precinct. I took the city-state of Cliff's End, which had been the setting for most of the Torin/Danthres adventures I'd tried and failed to write, and made the pair of them part of the Castle Guard, who act to maintain law and order within the city-state. Under the feudal rule of Lord Albin and Lady Meerka, the Guard not only keeps the peace, but also solves crimes in this port-side city, which is a haven for people from all over the land of Flingaria: humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes, trolls, and more. The Guard is aided by the M.E.: the magical examiner, a wizard on loan from the Brotherhood of Wizards, who casts a "peel-back" spell to determine what happened at the crime scene. (Of course, if magic is involved in the crime, jurisdiction is given to the Brotherhood, a state of affairs that never fails to annoy our heroes.)

"Dragon Precinct rises above its origins through the strong development of its characters and setting. ... What Dragon Precinct does offer is a pleasant way to spend a few hours with characters that come to life in a world you can easily lose yourself in."
---Lynn Nicole Louis, SFReader.com
In Dragon Precinct, the members of a heroic quest are being killed one by one. The M.E.'s peel-back shows nothing -- no sign of who killed them, but no sign of magic, either. Unfortunately, the questers are also national heroes and friends of the Lord and Lady, so the heat is on Torin and Danthres to close the case before all of them are murdered. In addition, there's a serial rapist who has eluded capture by being able to walk through walls, a rash of bad glamours on the streets, fights to break up on the docks, and a domestic disturbance occasioned by a large interdimensional portal opening in a rich woman's back yard. All in a day's work for the Cliff's End Castle Guard....

"It's got a good core of characters, a diverse city setting, and plenty of room to write more stories ... I believe I'd enjoy reading more stories set in Cliff's End."
---Gregory J. Dolnack, The Storyteller's Archive
Due to the publisher choosing to stop doing fantasy and SF (though they are dipping back into urban fantasy, which does me little good), there are no new novels on the horizon. However, I have kept the universe alive in short fiction form while awaiting the possibilities of novel-length sequels. The Torin/Danthres short stories include: "Getting the Chair" in the anthology Murder by Magic, edited by Rosemary Edghill; "Crime of Passion" in Hear Them Roar, edited by C.J. Henderson & Patrick Thomas; "House Arrest" in Bad-Ass Faeries, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Lee Hillman, & Jeff Lyman; and "A Clean Getaway" in Pandora's Closet, edited by Jean Rabe & Martin H. Greenberg.

"A hard-boiled detective mystery... set in a medieval, fantastical world where the Brotherhood of Wizards tightly controls magic and spells, and the Lord and Lady have a police force that would feel at home in any modern American city. ... though the weapon of choice is a sword, and officers walk around in armor, and magic is a means used to kill actual heroes famed far and wide for their old quest to kill the evil wizard, the sensibilities are modern, the language today, and the sensibilities ours. It works. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, how the victims had been killed, and why the Chamberlain was protecting the best suspects. And DeCandido delivered; answering my questions and neatly wrapping up the stories."
---Ian Randal Strock, Artemis magazine, Summer 2004
Dragon Precinct is now on sale. You can order it from the kind people at Amazon.com, and you can also read an excerpt.

"Dungeons and Dragnet... A warrior, an elf, a dwarf, a barbarian, a priest, and two halflings stop for the night at a seedy inn in the city of Cliff's End. Typical quest, or set-up for an elaborate Tolkien-geek joke? ... As a take-off of the standard crime drama, Dragon Precinct succeeds nicely. ... I would like to see more stories in this same setting."
---Kathryn L. Ramage, The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society Authors and Editors

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