Central Park Knight
by C.J. Henderson
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielson
Review by Cathy Green
Tor Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765320841
Date: 10 May 2011 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Central Park Knight, C.J. Henderson's sequel to Brooklyn Knight, starts with Piers Knight and Bridget Elkins averting yet another apocalypse with the help of strategically placed and diverse performance groups such as the choir of the First Methodist Church of Greenpoint, the Verspertine Ladies Dance Troupe and the Brooklyn Gay Men's Polka Partiteers. Averting the apocalypse was easy. Finding a way to get them all performing at the Brooklyn Museum as promised without breaking the bank is where Piers Knight has difficulties. That and the fact that as with all interns, Bridget Elkins leaves for a slightly better paying permanent job elsewhere leaving Knight to break in another intern, George Rainert, who turns out to be a socially awkward teenage genius computer nerd.
Knight doesn't have much time to adjust to his new intern, as a much bigger problem has arisen, literally. A couple of dragons have woken many centuries before they were supposed to awake, and they both want Piers Knight to explain why. This results in a nice set piece where Knight is visited by his long lost love Tian Lu, gets snatched by Men in Black from a government division dealing with the supernatural and then gets snatched right back by a dragon that literally peels the roof off and picks him up with his claw. The dragon then lands at the airport before switching to human form to be less conspicuous. Of course, even before 9/11 that sort of thing would cause a security panic and post 9/11 it causes a really big one, but by the time the various alphabet soup agency personnel show up, there's nothing to see and rather than deal with the paperwork, they're all happy to leave things to Doctor Sneed and the mysterious men in black. Piers Knight has visits from two dragons Jhou Xui and Virm'robos. Knight is somewhat prejudiced against Virm'robos, having been sliced open stem to stern by Virm'robos during their last encounter. Of course, he does not really trust Jhou Xui either.
It turns out there are two factions of dragons with different views on the future of the world and humanity's place in it, and one faction is not above convincing a world power with nuclear weapons to take out still slumbering dragons in the other faction. Piers Knight and his friends must decide which faction to back and how to defeat the dragons using both mundane and magical weapons. Ultimately there is a pitched battle in the middle of Central Park, hence the title of the book.
In Central Park Knight, Henderson gives us a glimpse into Knight's early years as an archaeologist, and further fills in mythology of the Great Old Ones established in Brooklyn Knight. It turns out our universe intersects with several other dimensions including those that are home to the various eldritch horrors that have been encroaching on our world, and our universe may eventually get wiped out if the various Great Old Ones cannot be held off until the walls of our dimension are strong enough to not be penetrated. This is a useful set up, as it will allow Henderson to pull in as many mythological creatures as he wants in future books without having to deal with the questions of "how come no one noticed them before?" since the answer is that they were in another dimension and only recently pushed through. It will be interesting to see where Henderson takes Prof. Knight in future books in the series.