I was given MOUNT DRAGON as a gift. I read it because I thought CABINET OF CURIOSITIES (another novel by Preston and Child) was such a great reading experience. Although MOUNT DRAGON lacks many of the qualities of CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, it is also an intense novel. One initial thought: I don't understand how two authors can coordinate their skills and compose such a great stories. In my experience, coauthoring is an extremely difficult task and often times the final product lacks lucidity.
The most artful characteristic of MOUNT DRAGON is the lifelike manner in which the authors are able to portray good and evil. In real life, good and evil are not discrete entities, but rather they are a paradox existing within the shell of all of us. Thus, Preston and Child portray good and evil as gray - neither black nor white. Thus, we see redeeming qualities in all of the evil characters with the possible exception of one - Nye, the security director. In addition, we see flaws within the "good" characters. It is much easier to create characters who are obviously good or evil and extremely difficult to create realistic personalities that embrace both characteristics. This complex writing task makes the novel suspenseful. The reader doesn't have a clear view of the direction of at least two subplots (particularly after reading CABINET OF CURIOSITIES). For example, the Scopes character is paradoxical, complex - thus, much less predictable, more interesting. On the other hand, the actions of Nye were clear cut. Readers will immediate catch his inherent evil and will be able to accurately predict his actions.
The best praise I can offer a novelist is that I will read his/her other work. I was given a copy of Preston and Child's RELIQUARY to read. However, when I read the cover, I realized it was the sequel to THE RELIC. I'm looking forward to reading these novels.