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City of Fire    by Laurence Yep order for
City of Fire
by Laurence Yep
Order:  USA  Can
Starscape, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Laurence Yep brings together an unusual set of characters in City of Fire - shapechanging dragon assassin Bayang and her prey, the orphaned boy Leech, who was a powerful warrior in a prior life; another shapechanger, Koko, who is Leech's best friend and helped him survive the streets; a young Kushan aristocrat, twelve-year-old Scirye, who vows to her goddess Nanaia to avenge her beloved sister's death; and Scirye's loyal lap griffin Kles.

They live in a fantasy world where magical creatures coexist with humans and human technology. It's 1941 in San Francisco and a Kushan exhibit is on display at the museum. Bayang has followed her prey Leech and his protector and friend there, and is closing in on them when disaster strikes in the room where the body of Lady Tabiti lies in honor. A dragon named Badik - an enemy of Bayang's people - attacks and seizes an ancient archer's ring from the display, killing Leech's protector and Scirye's sister, and injuring her mother.

Leech saves Bayang's life, leaving her conflicted about her mission. In the chaos that follows the theft, Scirye uses a magic carpet to pursue the thief, joined by Bayang, Leech, Koko and, of course Kles. They follow their enemy as the ancient carpet disintegrates below them. Their adventures include arrest and jailbreak, and stowing away on a transatlantic flight to Hawaii. There, the very wealthy Mr. Roland (for whom Badik works) has used magic to create a new Hawaiian island, Houlani, earning him the enmity of volcanic goddess Pele.

When Scirye befriends a strange old woman, she turns out to be Pele and aids Scirye and her friends in return. Leech's special skills - and magical disks - are revealed to him. They surf lava to Houlani, safeguarded by Pele's magic. And, though Roland and Badik escape this time, they learn that Roland is after all five of the lost treasures of legendary Emperor Yu, and that he's heading to chilly Nova Hafnia next. The second book of Laurence Yep's trilogy is bound to follow the villains there. Don't miss this exciting coming-of-age-and-into-adventure series!

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