March 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Alta by Mercedes Lackey
Daw / Penguin Putnam HCVR: ISBN 0756402166 PubDate: 03/01/04
Review by Karey Herriman

384 pgs. List price $ 24.95
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Mercedes Lackey has crafted a wonderful story that stands alone and folds the facts that you need from the 1st book very nicely into this second book. This is a delightful tale of a young boy returning to Alta, his homeland, after having been captured and enslaved in Tian. He returns with a dragon that is bonded to him by love rather than drugs, the common practice of the dragon riders known as the Jousters.

He talks his homeland Alta and the Head of the Jousters into forming an elite fighting group of Dragons that are raised from a dragon egg like his own beloved dragon Avatre was, using love to bond with them. The older Jousters think this is crazy. Everyone knows it takes 3 years for a dragonet to mature for battle. Unfortunately, there is a war going on with Tian, so that’s just not practical. So Kiron gathers a group of young lads and the dragon nursery is set up. The descriptions of baby dragons playing, being fed and mostly just loved are as much fun as having a basket of kittens in the house.

But evil is afoot in Alta and before long Kiron and his friends are in the thick of it. There are evil Magi, corrupt rulers and many dangers for the young jousters to be involved in.

With the help of the Magi, the war is going well for Alta, though it is taking its toll on both sides. Kiron knows having come from a poor back ground that it is usually the innocent people that get hurt during a war, the farmers, the craftsmen, women and children. With the help of his jousters but especially with Toreth from his squad who is part of the Tian royal house and next in line for the throne they start to work towards peace. When Toreth is murdered, Kiron continues to work toward peace with Toreth’s brother and shows how one person or a small group of people working together can make a difference and bring peace to a broken land...

When I received this book to review my first thought after reading the blurb on the back of the book was “Oh no, it is the second book of a series about dragons.” I am a great Anne Mcaffery fan and felt that she has done everything that could be done about riding dragons. I am happy and pleased to report that I was totally incorrect and would like to reaffirm that you should never judge a book by its blurb.

Mercedes Lackey has created a place that I would like to live where a biological weapon is used for good and the ultimate goal of all is peace. This book is worth reading just for the wonderful scenes of 9 baby dragons and just how much trouble they can cause and get into. The dragons all have different personalities and make me want to find a dragon egg and raise one for myself.

This story is well crafted and an excellent read for the whole family.

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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