Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
Mercedes Lackey,

by Jerry Wright

Author: Mercedes Lackey
Publisher: DAW
Mass Paper: 488 pages
ISBN: 0756403413
Price: $7.99
The first two books of Mercedes Lackey's fine "coming of age" trilogy (The Dragon Jousters) were very fine examples of the art. Both Joust and Alta were a fascinating, entertaining look at two semi-Egyptian societies at war with with one another, and the boy caught in the machinery of war, the serf Vetch.

In the first book, Vetch is saved from an evil master and falls into a wonderful job tending fighting dragons (kind of like a cross between a pterodactyl and a falcon, I would guess) for the country of Tia. The semi-wild dragons are drugged into submission and used by "Jousters" who could do great damage to opposing armies from the air, but often had to meet opposing Jousters who would use lances to hurt the dragon and/or knock the rider from his mount. In the first book, Vetch steals a dragon egg and raises a dragon in secret until she is big enough to fly, whereupon he uses her to escape back to his home in the opposing country of Alta. All in all it was well done, with much dragon lore and growth for Vetch.

In Alta Vetch reassumes his rightful name of Kiron, and goes on to show his native Altans how to raise tame dragons, and slowly builds a life with the possibility of love in Alta. And then he discovers that the powerful Altan sorcerors called "Magi" are draining all those with any magical ability, and are corrupting the rulers with the gift of extended life and youthfulness. They are also forcing the war with Tia, as they drain the lives of those killed in the war. Nice guys!

I won't tell you any more, because you need to run out and get a copy of this fine, fastmoving book. Only at the end, Kiron and a select few have escaped to the long lost city of "Sanctuary", which is where we take up the last book.

I actually read Sanctuary first. With, of course, the exception of the novelette "Joust" that originally appeared in a SF Book Club special collection. And after reading Sanctuary I realized that I really wanted to read the first two. And I did, and thoroughly enjoyed them. And then I realized that Book Three, while doing a fine job of tying all the loose ends together, was really the least of the three books. In comparison, it seemed a bit hurried, and the problems that were so overwhelming in the first two books were relatively easily overcome. Oh well.

I don't feel like I've wasted my time at all, and I was quite pleased to have read the trilogy, One thing, when I saw the book title "Joust", I couldn't help to be taken back to my old Atari 2600, with the game "Joust". Of course, there the knights flew on jousting ostriches (yeah, I know...) but they flew, and battered (and were themselves battered by) the opposing buzzard-knights.

One can only wonder.

Copyright © 2006 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

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