by Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett
Review by Mel Jacob
Spectra Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553806960
Date: 24 June 2008 List Price $22.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Havemercy, the debut novel of Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett, tells the story of war and love through the eyes of four disparate men, Royston, a wizard, and Margrave, a member of the elite nobility. Hal, a cousin of Royston, by the marriage of the Margrave's brother, has a voracious thirst for knowledge. The world weary Royston attracts him. The scholar Thom wants status and the means to assure his future. An assignment to civilize the airmen of the Dragon Corps offers that, but also challenges him. Rook, the arrogant ace of the Dragon Corps, ignores Thom and schemes to disgrace him.
Meanwhile Volstov wages war against the Ke-Han and its powerful magicians. The Dragon Corps gives Volstov the edge. They fly metal dragons powered by magic and control the skies. However, a diplomat of the same ally Royston offended demands the ousting of Rook for insulting the man's wife. The flyers rally behind Rook. The ruler of Volstov declines to execute Rook and employs Thom to teach them and particularly Rook manners.
A recall to the capital startles Royston and plunges his young lover Hal into despair. He urges Hal to come with him as his assistant. Torn between duty and love, Hal agrees.
A Volstov victory party raises questions in Royston's mind especially when he encounters other exiled magicians also returned from exile. These compose the most powerful and oldest of the elite magicians. Then Royston is recalled to army duty, leaving Hal heartbroken.
Once war resumes, the action takes over, but major problems arise. The authors keep a few twists to hold the reader's interest. Astute readers will identify some if not all of these.
Urbane and sophisticated Royston and lower class Rook have the most distinctive voices, although Rook overuses the f-word. Naïve Hal and aspiring Thom sound similar. The authors use first person narrative throughout. With four different characters, they label each switch of viewpoint with a character's name.
The slow moving, literary narrative spends much time developing the relationships between Royston and Hal and between Thom and Rook. Little else occurs until midway through the novel when Rook takes Thom on an unauthorized ride aboard the dragon Havemercy, pride of the Dragon Corps. When Havemercy tells Rook that Thom's stubbornness resembles his own, he rejects that as impossible. Thom's cursing makes Rook certain he comes from the Mollyedge, a slum of the city. No way will he let a Mollyrat reform him.
The fantasy setting offers opportunities for prequels or even sequels, and the authors have a two-book contract. Jones has promised to write more about the metal dragons.