Dragon Princess was a paperback that caught my eye for two reasons (the title and the gloriously cheesy cover) but which won me over with is promise of gender-swapping mayhem.
Now, S. Andrew Swann is not quite up there with the likes of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, but his writing strikes a nice balance between humor and storytelling that managed to sustain my enjoyment far beyond the initial gender-swapped glee. In fact, I found this to be a rather clever little book that takes great pleasure in twisting and toppling gender tropes as it goes.
With Dragon Princess we have a thief pretending to be a knight, a wizard with ulterior motives, a dragon with a gambling problem, a princess who would rather be a dragon, an stuffy old knight who actually serves the Dark Lord, an awkward barbarian who is the smartest of the bunch, and some of the greediest elves you are likely to ever set eyes on.
Much of the humor here is in the storytelling, with Frank Blackthorne a self-depreciating narrator with a sarcastic sense of pessimism. It is his narration that keeps the story from exhausting the novelty factor, while the personalities of Frank (in the Princess' body) and Lucille (in the dragon's body) serve to draw the reader in and elevate the story above its bodyswap/genderswap roots. Sadly, there is nary a moment of self-appreciation, much less sexual exploration, but that is hardly surprising for a mainstream paperback.
Swann weaves a surprisingly complex story here, with multiple plots and schemes all coming together in the end, and a wide cast of characters who keep the story moving along. Quirky and fun, Dragon Princess is that rare breed of novel that succeeds as both a work of fantasy and humor. It had me smiling throughout, and even giggling aloud at times.