Hoover’s sci-fi novel lays out the origins of Earth’s religious traditions in the story of a galactic war between an evil empire and a dragon-worshipping heroic alliance.
The author tosses together two sci-fi/fantasy genres: high fantasy involving sentient dragons (think Anne McCaffrey) and mighty military space opera (think E.E. “Doc” Smith), both heavily dressed with Joseph Campbell–style mythmaking. In a besieged medieval-esque realm, young Prince Cedric is sent from Windward Castle to safety with a legendary Dragon Master, one of an elite few who know how to tame, bond with and fight the great flying reptiles. The high-tech setting also includes flying machines and cybernetic implants. A parallel plotline warp speeds over years of interplanetary warfare between the power-crazed, body-snatching Belagana, determined to conquer the galaxy and make Earth an organ-supply depot, and the stalwart, ethical Dracan Alliance, which has a mystical reverence for dragons. A great dragon-spirit serves as the Dracans’ benevolent universal deity, while a surgically augmented Belagana plays a demonic role. Along the way, Hoover energetically mixes Bible verses, book of Revelation imagery and the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata (as well as Star Wars and Star Trek references); at one point, Belagana masquerade as angels and invent the Eden myth as a form of social control. Over the course of the story, the bellicose Belagana suffer countless defeats against the resourceful Dracans, who often seem surprised by their own cleverness. The novel’s characters tend to be a bit simplistic, along the lines of those in early Robert Heinlein stories (minus his snappy dialogue), but the story moves at a fast clip and stages an impressive cosmic Total War.
An ambitious combination of mystic heroics and planet-shattering star wars.