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the Complete Review
the complete review - science fiction

Defenders of the Dragon City

Chang Hsi-Kuo

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To purchase Defenders of the Dragon City

Title: Defenders of the Dragon City
Author: Chang Hsi-Kuo
Genre: Novel
Written: 1986 (Eng. 2003)
Length: 140 pages
Original in: Chinese
Availability: in The City Trilogy - US
in The City Trilogy - UK
in The City Trilogy - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B- : some neat adventures and events, but overall the sagging middle of the trilogy

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Defenders of the Dragon City picks up right where Five Jade Disks (see our review) left off: Sunlon city has been liberated from the occupying powers, "the Shan had made their last stand and been annihilated." Though victorious, the Huhui armies were not united, divided still into the Bronze Statue Cult, the democratic Green Snake Brotherhood and the royalist Leopard Brotherhood. They all decide, however, to withdraw from Sunlon City, agreeing that it should be left as an "open city to be ruled jointly by the heads of the nine bulu" (i.e. the nine city-districts).
       After an introductory chapter explaining this the story jumps ahead a year, when everything is more settled. A significant figure has appeared in the meantime: Zhihuang Ma has been made Mayor Ma, as the nine bulu heads had pretty much agreed to give him this position (since none would allow one of their own to dominate the other eight). It also looks like the Shan were not completely defeated.
       Word comes that the enemy has occupied the nearby Wufeng copper fields, on Five Phoenixes Mountain. It seems the Serpent people have joined forces with the Shan. Battles ensue, with the Green Snake Brotherhood surrounding the copper fields.
       Miss Qi is in the thick of things for these few weeks -- and returns to find an already changed Sunlon City. "Privilege cards" now make for class distinctions: the better one's card, the more the privileges. Miss Qi needs to travel out of town, and her lack of a privilege card make this a more complicated endeavour than it otherwise would be too. Finally she catches a train -- only for it to soon be hijacked by the Leopard people (who will take any excuse they can find to eat their captives).
       Narrow escapes continue -- and meanwhile events in Sunlon City also continue apace. The Stranger in Black (whose identity is also finally revealed) essentially stages a coup, and is able to proclaim: "From now on the Bronze Statue Cult will be the state religion of the Huhui planet !"
       As Ah-(chu) says: "The Bronze Statue ... it is indeed the original sin of the city." In a dramatic end the immense Statue reappears with a vengeance.

       Defenders of the Dragon City is very much the middle book of this trilogy, a bridge in which there are dramatic events but which needs both the preamble of the first volume -- and the summing up of the last. It ends inconclusively, setting the stage for the finale, the last words promisingly stating that: "Sunlon City was facing yet another great catastrophe".
       Some of the adventures along the way are entertaining. Chang also offers amusing details and asides -- a "little red book" for example, meant of course to be reminiscent of Mao's, full of profound but incomprehensible sayings: no one knows what they mean, but they are certain: "They must be right because they are in the little red book."
       Defenders of the Dragon City is part of a larger whole, and doesn't stand very firmly on its own.

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The City Trilogy: Reviews: Chang Shi-Kuo: Other books by Chang Hsi-Kuo under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Taiwanese author Chang Hsi-Kuo (also: Chang Shi-Kuo or Zhang Xiguo) was born in 1944 and is the director of the Center for Parallel, Distributed, and Intelligent Systems at the University of Pittsburgh

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