DRAGON KINGS OF THE ORIENT: THE MYTH HUNTER (2012) – Written by Percival Constantine.
When you write a novel about a female myth hunter, you’re going to draw the Tomb Raider comparison, and certainly, if Lara Croft and Elisa Hill ever found themselves at the same cocktail party, they’d recognize a kindred spirit in one another. It must be noted, however, that Elisa is not simply Lara redrawn, and DRAGON KINGS OF THE ORIENT is not simply Lara Croft in China.
Percival Constantine sets his own course in DRAGON KINGS and Elisa is her own woman. Where this novel shines are the moments when Elisa finds herself, in the same instance, fighting both moral and physical quandaries. Her willingness to work with previous combatants when the situation calls for it, even if she doesn’t want to do it, makes her seem like a very real, very practical character. Which is important when you’ve got fox spirits and Dragon Kings running around with magical swords.
Like Elisa, Perry does excellent work balancing the two halves of the plot – the physical narrative and the emotional struggles of his characters. The result is that no matter how far he takes this novel into the supernatural, it always feels real because Elisa, Asami, and Max feel real.
If you’re a writer, Elisa is the kind of character that causes your head to start crafting stories for her to run around in. She’s the kind of character that you want to step into the novel to help, but then realize you’d be the one needing help, not her. (Unless you happen to be an experienced myth hunter, too.) Capable but not invincible, I always feel like Elisa is going to pull through because of the strength of her personal character and not because she’s invincible. In this regard, Elisa reminds me more of someone like John McClane than Lara Croft.
My only real quibble with the book is that, at times, the conversations between Elisa, Max, Asami, and Jason Shroud begin to take on a sameness to them. In conversations with more than two characters, this is less of a problem, but too often the two-person chats play the same: one character wants to do something, one character doesn’t want them to do it, and you know all along they’re going to do it because we wouldn’t have a story without it.
This is a small complaint in an otherwise fantastic adventure story. Elisa Hill is one of the Pantheon characters of the New Pulp movement, and I hope to be reading her adventures for many years to come.
For more information on Elisa Hill, click here for Perry’s Novels page and complete ordering information.