Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dragon Moon by Rebecca York

Kenna is a psychic from another world, one in which many, many more people have psychic powers than in our own world. Her power involves telekinesis, but she isn't a free woman. Two years ago, she was stolen from her home by the forces of the Dragon, Vandar, and now she serves him as his slave, along with a host of other humans. Kenna hates being a slave, but she would hate being killed by Vandar much more, which would certainly happen if she tried to run. She already tried to run once, but she was caught and returned to her servitude. She no longer believes she can escape. The only reason Vandar didn't kill her the first time that she ran was because she has skills that he needs.

She works in the library, keeping Vandar's books from disintegrating by spreading preservative liquid on the pages. But Vandar needs her for something different now- there is another world, much like their own, but the people there have almost no psychic powers and instead have developed technology. Vandar wants to conquer this world, which is, of course, our own. He's sent some spies to our world, but because they were men, they were regarded with suspicion. Vandar hopes that a meek and rather inoffensive young woman will be able to find out what his male agents could not.

He has Kenna prepared by the mages who have opened a portal to our world, teaching her our slang and some of our customs, then sends her through the portal. Once on the other side, Kenna finds herself on a cold mountainside, and it quickly begins to rain. While she looks for shelter, she is caught in the downpour and under a falling tree. Using her powers, she tries to push the tree away from her, but only ends up not being killed- she is trapped by the fallen tree. And when lightning strikes the tree and sets it on fire, she's terrified.

The mountain she appeared on is home to a werewolf named Talon Marshall. He's a wilderness guide who leads parties of humans into the woods for a camping trip and shows them the wonder and glories of nature. When he returns home from a run. he hears the tree fall and hears Kenna's scream- so he immediately goes to her aid in wolf form. Kenna isn't afraid of the wolf, but when he's unable to shift the tree, he leaves to change back to human form and dress, then saves her from the fire, which the rain soon puts out. He brings her to his home to recover from her ordeal, but he realizes quite quickly that something isn't normal about her.

She has no idea what technological things are, like telephones, televisions, washing machines and dishwashers, and she even appears somewhat afraid of them. But he doesn't think that she's from a different world- he thinks she's from some kind of fundamentalist compound out in the forest, where she was raised to do hard work without the help of modern technology. and so he asks his brother, who happens to be a private eye, for help in finding out where Kenna came from.

His brother asks him to send him a sample of Kenna's DNA, which he does.- but Talon has some problems of his own. First of all is that he's very much attracted to Kenna and can barely keep his hands off of her. Second, before Kenna arrived, he was running in the woods in his wofl form and discovered a case buried in the woods with a million dollars in it. Now, the man who buried the case found out that it was gone, and that Talon had found it and turned it over to the cops. He's rather angry at Talon for that and wants his revenge. But he has no idea that Talon is a werewolf, or that werewolves even exist.

And Vandar has ensured that Kenna will feel nothing but pain if she tries to tell anyone the truth about herself or about the alternate universe or about him. After She has a fight with Talon, he goes off to lead a group into the wilderness, leaving her in his home. But she's called home by Vandar to show him what she's learned. He pulls everything from her mind to make a copy of Talon's home- but it's only a copy- the faucets don't work, and neither do any of the other appliances.

Now, however, he has a further demand. He knows that Kenna and Talon have become lovers, and he doesn't mind. He wants Kenna to seduce Talon into buying her fifty guns, and the ammunition to use them. Kenna is afraid of what this means, and doesn't know if she can do it. But Vandar insists that she try. He wants the guns for his invasion of Earth, and he soon sends Kenna back- only for her to be captured by the man gunning for Talon, who knocks her out and puts her in Talon's house to try and burn it down for his revenge on Talon.

Luckily, Talon returns before he can carry through with his plan, and Talon chooses to save Kenna instead of going after the fleeing man. He puts out the fire and makes love to her, and afterwards, he gets a phone call from his brother- and his brother's wife, who just so happens to be from the same world as Kenna. They ask to meet with Talon, and Kenna, alone by herself, tries to write out the information she needs Talon to know- that she's a slave and that her master is planning an invasion of this world. But even though she only writes one word per page, the pain strikes her down, and she has a vision of Vandar taking her back to her world and tormenting her on the way to slowly killing her for her treachery.

Can she and Talon win free of this nightmare world and break her ties to Vandar? And who is the man who keeps having visions of her- does he somehow have ties to Vandar or to Kenna's world? And can Talon, his family and their new wives return to Kenna's world to free her and kill Vandar to set Kenna free and the other slaves the Dragon has as well? Or will the immensely smart, long-lived Dragon be able to outwit and kill them?

I had never read a book from this series by Rebecca York (the pen name of Ruth Glick, according to the cover), but apparently. this is just one, the latest in a line of four or five books set in this world and dealing with Talon's family. The worlds are set up as virtual mirror images of each other, up until the World's Fair of 1893, when one man came up with a machine that could give others very strong psychic abilities. In our world, he was laughed off the stage, in Kenna's world, not only did his machine work, but many people decided to use it.

Because of that, the worlds diverged wildly, and the psychic world never developed many technological machines. Instead, they relied on their psychic powers to do things. They never developed the combustion engine- or abandoned it soon after it was developed, so their world has no industrial pollution like ours (something Kenna notices when she comes to Earth is the different smell in the air from her world. We don't really see much of Kenna's world- only Vlandar's stronghold and some flashbacks into her life before, and it's something I would like to see more of.

I liked the suspense of learning who Randall was and why he was having visions of Kenna and the feeling that she was somehow important to him. The resolution of that was a big surprise to me, but it underscored how much each world had developed, and developed differently, from the point of separation, but it also raised some interesting questions which I can't state without giving away that point in the plot- something I'm not willing to do.

So I'd recommend this book, both as a romance and as a fantasy. The heroine might seem weak, but she's actually strong to hold out against Vandar- who outclasses her in both psychic abilities and strength many times over- yet once she's away from him, she tries hard to resist him anyway, which is admirable. Talon is a bit more of a cipher. He emerges as far less of his own character and towards the end, drifts into standard "overprotective Alpha" behavior- but I didn't begrudge him that too much. Recommended.

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