Review: Mercedes Lackey – Alta

Mercedes Lackey

Little Vetch has grown into a man, named for his father Kiron. With his tame dragon Avatre he has fled from Tia to Alta, the land of his birth. He does not know what he will find, or what he will be able to do for Alta. When he arrives, he finds that there are more troubles than he could have imagined.

This is the second book in the awesome Dragon Jousters Series (Joust is the first). I’m so very fond of it! I like Kiron, even though he’s a male protagonist (it wouldn’t have worked with a female), and the minor things that go on in this book are really down my alley. I love learning, and I love learning with Kiron and also feeling with them as the dragons hatch.

The dragons are so realistically realised. Lackey is an animal carer, and its obvious that she has drawn on that expertise. She has thought about everything – their breeding habits, the way the hatch, how they interact. This is the way dragons should be – they may be wild, but they can also be tamed and form bonds of love.

As Kiron learns to read, it becomes obvious to the reader that this series has a foundation in Egyptian history. The ideas of tombs and hieroglyphics really make that stand out. It’s nice to see some input, but not too much. It’s not intrusive at all.

This book is really unusual in that its climax doesn’t really feel to me like a climax. This is really a medium plot book – several moderately exciting things happen, and you often wonder whether they are going to get away with their tricks, but of course they will – because most things are relatively minor. I’ve read the book so many times now that I’m never surprised by anything happening!

Just as in any good book, it is obvious how Kiron is growing up and becoming more opinionated, as well as stronger. Things he has been through make him seem older than the other unique Jousters. It’s interesting that Kiron supports slavery, when usually Lackey channels characters that hate it. It’s understandable though, and I don’t think I could have expected anything else as it wouldn’t be in line with Kiron’s beginnings as a serf. The other characters also show development, particularly Orest and Aketen who we meet early in the novel.

I’d recommend this book for teens and adults. Nothing particularly controversial in this one – it’s all very above board. Yes, the Magi’s scheming is unpleasant, but its totally in keeping with the rest of the novel and not too confronting.

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