Fiction Reviews

Paint Your Dragon

(1996) Tom Holt, Orbit, 15.99, hrdbk, 320pp. ISBN 1 85723 433 2


An interesting variant on the George and the dragon theme, Holt juxtaposes the ideals of good and evil while reducing them to matters of bureaucracy and legislation. Everything is subjected to, and obstructed by, rules and regulations that pervades even the laws of nature (a set of mathematical equations complying strictly with the laws of physics), and even time is quantified in terms of its commercial potential! Either Holt has suffered a nasty experience at the hands of the Civil Service, or possibly he once worked for them...

Into this environment comes Bianca, a typically prosaic heroine in the Holt style, who finds being the main protagonist a bit of a bore. In contrast, the dragon is the only individual in the book, the only one who seems outside the rules. You can no more condemn the dragon for incinerating his adversaries, than you can Hannibal Lector for eating his. But the dragon has a record to set straight with George, a Saint who makes his chosen companions (a bunch of demons on holiday from Hell) look like the cast of Hi De Hi (UK television comedy about a holiday camp).

Julie Harper

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