Monday, October 6, 2014

Alta (Dragon Jousters #2) by Mercedes Lackey | Epic Fantasy | Book Review

National best-selling fantasy legend Mercedes Lackey created a vivid, dynamic fusion of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms of ancient Egypt with the most exciting, authentic and believable portrayal of dragons ever imagined. In the second novel in Mercedes Lackey's richly-conceived Dragon Jousters series, the dragonrider Vetch escapes to Alta, the subjugated land of his birth. There, he hopes to teach his people to raise and train dragons-and build an army that will liberate his homeland.

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Alta (The Dragon Jousters #2) by Mercedes Lackey

| Author: Mercedes Lackey
| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| Content: Dragons, Coming of Age, Magic, War
| ISBN-10: 0756402573
| ISBN-13: 9780756402570
| Publisher: DAW (March 1, 2005)
| Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
| Cover Artist: Jody A. Lee
| Source: Personal copy
| Rating: 5/5 Stars
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Alta (Dragon Jousters, #2)

♥ Mini Review ♥
The story of Vetch has now become the story of Kiron, Son of Kiron. No longer is he Vetch the serf or even Vetch the dragon boy. To be accepted by the people of his birth he must go through a rebirth of self. He must become Kiron the Jouster not just outwardly, but inwardly as well. And this is not as easy as it might sound.

Epic Fantasy Review by Mulluane

♦ My Thoughts. This book starts out with some travel, but the majority of the story will take place in a new city. This time around we get to view things from the other side of the war. The Alta side. At a basic level, the Altan Jousters are no different than their opponents on the Tia side of the border. Both train, ride and drug wild dragons. Each is trying to protect their border and each is only following orders in a war whose cause has been lost to the ages. The beauty is in the details. The different methods used, the differences in religion and political makeup, even the difference in the landscape, all add depth to the overall story.

This is not meant to devalue the travel sequence. The initial travel between Tia and Alta held its own fascination. Kiron is guided by the Bedu, a wandering solitary people of which little is known. The system of travel, the glimpses of yet another diverse culture and the nuggets of wisdom Kiron gleans along the way made for an engrossing read and a great start to this tale.

Needless to say, between the strong characterization and the intricate cultural worldbuilding, I found plenty of material to keep me firmly engaged. Even though sometimes there appears -- on the surface -- to be little more going on besides the endless routine of caring for and training dragons, below the surface there was enough drama, suspense, mystery and danger to keep the story moving right along.

It was very well done.

♦ What I Liked. Better to ask "Where do I start?"

Vetch aka Kiron has no idea what type of reception he is going to receive from his homeland. Keeping in mind that he is still very much a child, Kiron is justifiably worried and very insecure. Watching him grow and develop into a young man was a delight all onto itself. This time there is a whole new group dynamic involved. Enter Aket-ten, a spirited young lady who is a priestess in training with a gift of speech with animals. Both her and her brother introduce Kiron to a type of life he has only seen from afar. That of the wealthy elite.

That is not the only drastic change our hero will encounter. The political makeup, the magic system, the religions, the traditions, the climate and even the introduction of a new type of dragon will astound and confuse him. It will be alot for a boy on the cusp of manhood to absorb but Kiron is up to the task. Rapidly changing circumstances are something life has taught him to deal with, and overall he does a pretty good job. I know it kept me busy and I was only reading about it!

In many ways this book is similar to book one. Book one introduced us to Tia with its mix of desert, floodplain, and unique culture. Book two does the same, but the focus shifts to a swampy delta and a more tropical setting. Kiron is a bit older too, so there is more of a mature vibe, but not really much of one. In some ways this kid had to grow up way too fast while in others he is a babe in the woods. It was fun to watch.

The major difference between the two books was a substantial ramp up in the tension and drama. There is a horrifying twist as Kiron finds out that the war between Tia and Alta has a sinister purpose. And this discovery will put them all, jousters, dragons and inhabitants alike, in mortal danger.

♦ What I didn't like. There were a few things that bugged me in this book. First was the convenient way that Kiron ended up exactly where he needed to be, in the company of just the right people to guarantee his acceptance. It was a bit of a letdown really. There was this big buildup of angst, worry and trepidation over how or if he was going to convince the Alta dragon jousters that he deserved a place in their company. The solution was dramatic, but resolved to easily for my tastes. But it is not like poor Kiron is going to lack for challenges to overcome. I guess he deserved a freebie.

My other gripe is more important. It concerns the blurb. The totally incorrect blurb. I'm not going to quote it here because I am going to advise that you not read it at all. I know that they are a necessary evil, but I swear sometimes I hate the darn things. If you read it, ignore it, if you haven't read it, don't. It will give you the wrong idea about what is really going on.

Enough said.

♦ Conclusion. So far this series is a great joy for me. Interesting cultures, bonded dragons, strong leading characters, opposing views of the same war and a bit of mystery thrown in for good measure. There is a promise of a budding romance, some heroic deeds, and an epic fight of good versus evil. What is not to love? This book/series maybe a bit too simplistic for some, but the way I look at things, it is often the simple things that make us smile the widest.

Now if you'll excuse me, I am off to see what kind of trouble Kiron and Aket-ten get into next.

♦ Additional Reviews ♦

Series Summary ~ Joust #1 ~ Sanctuary #3 ~ Aerie #4
Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books, Affiliate Links

Librarything 3.87/5

Amazon: 4.1/5
(50 customer Reviews)

What Should I Read Next?
Kindle: Alta: Joust #2 (Dragon Jousters)

Audible: No

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Alta (The Dragon Jousters #2) by Mercedes Lackey | Epic Fantasy | Book Review
Reviewed by Mulluane on September 15 2014
Rating: 5 of 5

Mulluane is a 56-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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