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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Alta by Mercedes Lackey

Alta by Mercedes Lackey. New York: Daw Books, 2004. No ISBN listed.

This book is the sequel to Joust, which I blogged back in 2003. Our young hero, Kiron by name, escapes from captivity on his young dragon, traveling back to his home country, Alta (hence the book's title) from which he had been captured into slavery. Once there he proposes to teach his own people how to raise a tame dragon--by hatching it from the egg, as opposed to the normal practice of capturing them as adults, and drugging them into submission and a reluctant obedience.

His sole friend among the enemies was a dragon jouster, Ari, who had done just that himself, and taught young Kiron most of what he knows. Ultimately, Ari helps him to escape out of love for the dragons, and the bonding between dragon and jouster.

So most of our story is taken up with the tale of how Kiron becomes accepted in his homeland, and how he works with a troop of boys to raise their own wing of dragons from the egg. This would have been a perfectly good enough storyline on its own, leading to an inevitable battle between the two tamed dragons, Ari's and Kiron's.

But no, Lackey has to make things much more complicated by involving Kiron in the politics of his native land, where a group of unprincipled magi are taking power by evil means. This plot line is a mistake in my view. It overly and unnecessarily complicates the story and would have better been kept for the next volume.

Oh well, it is nevertheless an eminently readable tale, well-written and entertaining fantasy recommended for those who enjoyed the first installment of the story. The book leaves us hanging with an obvious need for at least one more volume to bring things to their inevitable happy ending. Checking the author's website, I see that the next book, titled Sanctuary, is already in print. The fourth and final volume, titled Aeyrie doesn't yet have a prospective publishing date assigned.

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