Rhiana is called and chosen to be
a dragon slayer for the small and prosperous village of St. Renan, recently invaded
by a dozen vicious dragons intent on snatching up as many villagers as possible. However, she is prevented from fulfilling her role by the lord of the village, who has the misguided notion to protect the dragons -- perhaps at the behest of his mentally
ill wife ... or possibly for other, more
Hauf has built an interesting world here, where a quasi-historical France intersects with fantastical elements, but Rhiana is almost too perfect a heroine. She's smart, brave and, mysteriously, impervious to and fascinated by fire. Additionally, the narrative voice is stilted and uses a strangely archaic grammar that is intended to be conversational but comes across as anything but.
Fans of Hauf's previous novels will probably enjoy this book; new readers will likely find it too problematic to finish. (May, 416 pp., $13.95)