REVIEW OF DAY OF THE DRAGONKING
May 27, 2015 · by jeff markowitz
is a genre-bender of a story by Terry Irving, carving out an identity at the intersection of political thriller and speculative fiction. But just what is the story about?
Wizards? Terrorists? Freemasons? Space aliens? Sentient computers? All of the above?
Irving suggests, and I’m inclined to agree, it’s a story about the confrontation between scientific reality and magical reality.
So I PONDERED Irving’s magical reality. I STUDIED its power. I CONSIDERED its meaning.
Day of the Dragonking is a story about transformations, and at the center of the story we are introduced to down-on-his luck journalist Steve Rowan and follow his transformation from playing the fool to being The Fool. Along the way, Rowan, with the help of a remarkable cast of characters, somehow manages to save the world.
If I were inclined to pick a nit, I would point out that the dialogue suffers from information dump, but that would be a small nit indeed in an otherwise wondrous adventure.
I am drawn to the inescapable conclusion that Terry Irving is a little bit crazy. Perhaps more than a little bit. And I say that with the utmost affection and respect. Because you would have to be a little bit crazy to write Day of the Dragonking. But you don’t have to be crazy to read it.
Maybe just a little bit.
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“Day of the Dragonking: The Last American Wizard”
By Terry Irving
Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,”
published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine
What if this world is just “magic” and somehow it is replaced by a stronger magic? In “The Last American Wizard,” the world Steve Rowan has known ceases to exist. He can no longer rely on anything he thought was real and his life as well as everyone else’s is now being controlled by a deck of tarot cards. A deck in which he plays the fool.
The epicenter of this magical change...Washington D.C., of course.
Steve Rowen has witnessed an airliner crash in front of his home, but he appears to be the only one who can see it. He soon finds himself to be the ‘Fool’ from a deck of Tarot cards. He meets up with Ace, a SEAL, who in this new world is the Ace of Swords. Each person they encounter has taken on the persona of another card. As they fight their way through the deck, they come to realize that computers and the Tarot Cards now control the fate of the world. Everyone they encounter wants one thing, the death of the Fool. Steve is attacked by Illuminati and Masons, elves, gnomes, and too many mythical creatures to mention.
Steve and Ace are abetted by a smartphone named ‘Smart Money’ and the voice in the phone, Barnaby. Ultimately, it will be up to the brains of the “Fool” to secure the cuter of Washington D.C.
Terry Irving has written a science fiction/fantasy thriller that will have you laughing one moment and racing through adrenaline-pumping action the next. “The Last American Wizard” will twist you in knots while expanding your imagination. You will never look at magic the same again.
"A brisk, suspenseful adventure nestled in real, historical drama"
kirkus reviews on warrior
Irving’s (Courier, 2015) historical thriller, the second in his Freelancer series, offers a provocative reinterpretation of the infamous Wounded Knee incident.
Irving reprises the picaresque role of Rick Putnam, a motorcycle-riding courier and war-hardened Vietnam veteran. Set in 1973, the story centers on the Wounded Knee debacle in South Dakota, in which members of the American Indian Movement seized and occupied a small town within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
In this fictional version, the activists, surrounded and beleaguered by U.S. law enforcement, are increasingly threatened with the possibility of a final, deadly raid that ends the standoff once and for all. Rick joins his Native American friend Eve Buffalo in an attempt to sneak badly needed supplies past the blockade surrounding the town.
The area is crackling with violence, riddled with various tribal factions all deeply territorial, suspicious of outsiders, and accustomed to spontaneous bouts of violence. Rick, troubled by the political intrigue he encountered (and barely survived) in the previous novel, uncovers yet more subterfuge regarding the collusion of the federal government with corrupt officials within the Bureau of Indian Affairs. What follows is an action-packed adventure that incudes nefarious government forces, intramural tribal conflict, and motorcycle gangs.
Rick remains the constant through the two volumes: he’s still a chain-smoking, wisecracking tough guy haunted by memories of service in Vietnam. His character can be a bit overdrawn, flirting with caricature as the wounded but incorruptible warrior with “eidetic memory.” However, his developing romance with Eve humanizes him, adding a layer of complexity and vulnerability.
Once again, the story’s pace is torrid, moving from one taut scene to another while the historical drama of Wounded Knee facilitates Irving’s principal strength: rendering the wildly implausible believable.
Rick’s irrepressible wit will help readers through the sometimes-dark material. In response to a Native American introducing himself as Pete Talltrees, Pawnee out of Oklahoma, Rick responds, “Rick Putnam, BMW out of Washington DC.”
A brisk, suspenseful adventure nestled in real, historical drama
"...FAST-PACED ACTION WILL APPEAL TO BALDACCI AND MELTZER FANS"
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY ON COURIER
Terry Irving. Ronin Robot, $14.99 trade paper (302p) ISBN 978-0-9860873-1-8
Peabody Award–winner Irving, a veteran TV news writer and producer, uses his own formative experiences in the business as the starting point for this conspiracy thriller set in Washington, D.C., in 1972. Rick Putnam survived his tour of duty in Vietnam, but remains haunted by his experiences there. He now works as a courier for the Associated Broadcast Network, transporting film from the field back to the studio on his motorcycle. After Rick picks something up from the network’s top investigative journalist, Joe Hadley, a hit man takes out Hadley and his crew, the first of a number of murders carried out to conceal the contents of the images Rick was given. The next victim is an accountant Hadley interviewed who worked for the Committee for the Reelection of the President. Though that revelation signals that the bloodshed is connected with the White House, Irving uses a lesser-known allegation of Nixonian villainy as his payoff. The fast-paced action will appeal to Baldacci and Meltzer fans. (BookLife)
"FANS OF ROBERT ANTON WILSON'S FAST AND LOOSE APPROACH TO POLITICAL CONSPIRACY AND DOUGLAS ADAM'S BUMBLING UNWILLING HEROES WILL EAT UP IRVING'S FIRST BATCH OF GIDDY, CLUMSY WORLD-SAVING ADVENTURES."
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY ON DAY OF THE DRAGONKING
Fans of Robert Anton Wilson’s fast and loose approach to political conspiracy and Douglas Adams’s bumbling unwilling heroes will eat up Irving’s first batch of giddy, clumsy world-saving adventures, which launches the Last American Wizard series. A “mystical terrorist group” sacrifices an airplane full of innocents to a dragon and uses the deaths to power an event that wreaks magical havoc on Washington, D.C. All the wizards in the U.S. government’s employ abruptly lose access to magic, and the world’s computers and gadgets become sentient. Second-string journalist Steven Rowan embodies the tarot’s Fool and is forced to figure out the card’s magic on the fly. Bombshell soldier Ace Morningstar, who used her magic to disguise herself as a man so she could become a SEAL, drafts Steve and his cell phone, which contains the ghost of a Chinese factory worker who now communicates through screen animations and bad autotranslations, to help fix the mess. Gathering allies, including NSA supercomputer Barnaby and Ace’s BMW, Hans, the team fights off newly transformed demons, dog monsters, and ogres while trying to find out who is controlling the Illuminati before the villains embark on the next step of their world-domination strategy. Irving’s smart parody of Beltway life and his high-energy storytelling carry through to the end and promise to maintain momentum well into the next installment. (BookLife)