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Charon:  A Dragon at the Gate
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Charon: A Dragon at the Gate

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Author: Jack L. Chalker
Publisher: Del Rey, 1982
Series: The Four Lords of the Diamond: Book 3

1. Lilth
2. Cerberus
3. Charon
4. Medusa

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Synopsis

"He" wakes up on a prison ship, and discovers that "he" is a copy. He learns that he is in the body of a notorious killer of women named "Park Lacoch", and that he is very short. At the orientation on Charon, a hot and steamy world of jungles and deserts, he learns that magic works. Magic here means that some individuals can sense, and learn to control, the Warden organism that pervades everything and everyone. It is possible to fool the Wardens into believing they are something else, such as converting a fruit juice to poison, or changing a person into an animal. One's status depends a lot on how much of the power one can learn to use.

Park is singled out early, during the placement interviews the newcomers are getting. He is told that the leadership of the planet is aware that there is a Confederacy Assassin planted on Charon to kill the Lord of Charon, Aeolia Matuze. The agent "Park" is well aware of this, as he is that very agent, just arrived. Fortunately for him, the security interviewer is under the impression that Park's new girlfriend, Zala, is the Assassin, as she has a genetically created double mind.

Park is assigned as a Town Accountant to a town where the authorities believe he will be contacted by a well-organized group of revolutionaries seeking to re-install a former Lord of Charon that Aeolia displaced. After a series of adventures, Park gains much control over the power, and with Zala (aka Kira) and his new girlfriend Darva, assists in an attack on the palace where Aeolia Matuze resides. This attack is a coordinated one, coinciding with the overthrow of the government everywhere, and prompted by Dr. Dumonia of Cerberus, a Confederate plant with many agendas.

The attack is successful, but the former Lord of Charon cannot go through with killing Aeolia, who was his ex-wife that he still had feelings for. Aeolia, not as sentimental, kills him. When it seems that all is lost, Kira kills Aeolia, with the tacit approval of Aeolia's Chief of Security, Yatek Morah, who as it turns out, is really in the employ of the aliens. Yatek having no love for the late Aeolia, is willing to discuss matters with Park, and there is the implication that Park will have a chance to become the new Lord of Charon.

The book closes with the Agent in the picket ship being even more affected by this latest experience. He more than ever questions the values and efficacy of the Confederacy, and wishes to delay making a final report because he fears what his government's response will be. The computer shows that it is more than merely an assistant or partner, by nearly overriding him, and almost not letting him out of the capsule. "Mr. Carroll" manages to convince the computer that he will return, and only wishes to gather the final report from Medusa before making his report to the Confederacy.


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