Rating: 4 out of 5.

Warning: this post may contain spoilers for Jane Yolen’s Dragon’s Blood, first in the Pit Dragon trilogy

There have been so many different takes on dragons over the years (and, indeed, centuries), and I have read so many different books about dragons, that you would think that I would eventually get tired of them, or stop finding books that have anything really original to add to the topic. You might think that, but you would be wrong; it seems that there will always be more stories to tell about these majestic creatures in all of their various forms, which for some reason loom so large in our imaginations. Dragon’s Blood is another fine contribution to the massive body of human literature on the compelling subject of dragons.

Simply, this book was fun. It was a very light, very quick read (think less than a day) with a fairly unique take on dragons and the ecology that might be associated with them, and a somewhat less unique coming-of-age type story with a main character who was not nearly as interesting as some of the figures with whom he interacts. It’s another example of a fantasy novel with a science fiction framework, a technique that seems to fade in and out of popularity, but which in this case allows Yolen to use much more scientific language to describe the dragons in detail and differentiate them from the many different styles of dragons out there. These dragons are much closer to be dolphins than they are to being wizards, somewhat like the dragons in Dragonriders of Pern. In fact, this book reminded me in many ways of Anne McCaffery’s series.

Maybe I just wasn’t completely in the mood for a coming-of-age story, but I did not get very much out of the protagonist’s struggles and triumphs and reflections. I was far more interested by some of his antagonists, like the dragon breeding master or the drug-addicted trainer. The glimpse of the world that we’re shown is also interesting, as it is fairly unique and raises some interesting questions about how such an ecology might arise, and why the social structure developed the way it does, and how those pieces fit into the larger galactic or intergalactic context that is very vaguely hinted at once or twice.

Though I enjoyed the story, I’m not sure that I’ll seek out the others in the trilogy, not so much because I don’t think that I would enjoy them as because I have so many other books on my reading list that I more and more find myself only continuing with a series if there’s something very compelling about it. Don’t let that deter you, however; I would certainly encourage you to read Dragon’s Blood.

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