Dragon Princess by S. Andrew Swann
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Frank Blackthorne’s most recent heist did not end optimally. The sacrificial virgin survived, but the whole incident left Frank, a respectable career thief, on the run from a kingdom full of evil cultists eager to replace their sacrifice.
So, when the Court Wizard of Lendowyn, Elhared the Unwise, comes to him intending to hire someone to save Lendowyn’s princess from an evil dragon in return for riches, glory, and help with the bloodthirsty cultists problem, Frank is rightfully suspicious. Frank is also not in a position to refuse.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Frank’s rescue fails—in an explosion of spectacularly misapplied magic. When the dust settles, all parties involved find themselves body-swapped. Frank is left stranded in the Princess Lucille’s body, halfway across the kingdom. The understandably angry Princess Lucille finds herself inhabiting the body of the dragon. In order to set things right, they will have to team up and face down thugs, slavers, elvish bookies, knights in shining armor, an evil Queen, and the hordes of the Dark Lord Nâtalc.”
I was a bit skeptical of this book when I first started reading it, because the humor is so prevalent and so in-your-face that it almost felt forced. After a few chapters, though, the story found its rhythm and I began to really enjoy it. I think it’s mostly that the type of humor that the author is utilizing is better suited to the madcap hijinks post-body-swap than to the plot set-up of the earlier chapters.
Once the novel found its footing, I really enjoyed it. It’s hilarious to watch Frank try to navigate the logistics of a woman’s body, clothing, and social mores without betraying that he has no clue what he’s doing. This leads to the realization that you can’t run well in heels, the acquisition of sexy leather clothing, and the problem of how to use your cleavage to best advantage. There are also some sobering moments when Frank really comprehends how much danger he might be in simply because he’s female.
As mentioned in the synopsis, Lucille ends up in the dragon’s body, which neatly sidesteps the trite “let’s swap genders and see what happens!” trope. She’s dealing with something that disadvantages her just as much as Frank is disadvantaged by being a woman—namely, Lucille is no longer human. The question for both of these characters then becomes whether or not they can turn those disadvantages around and learn to capitalize on what they’ve got.
While the plot is definitely not as light as the humor, it does give Frank and Lucille the excuse for a pretty varied roster of adventures. They come into contact with different races and different social classes, as well as many ways of making a living and surviving in harsh circumstances. The story isn’t repetitive, that’s for sure! It’s fun without being fluffy, and entertaining without being inane. It straddles the line between humorous fantasy and some of the darker stuff and does so with style.
Dragon Princess has wit, action and hilarity in equal measures and should prove an enjoyable read for those looking for something fast-paced and fun. I hope the author does more in this vein, because I enjoyed the writing style and would love to see Frank and Lucille’s further adventures.