Book Review: Heart’s Blood by Jane Yolen

November 17, 2004

 

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This is the middle book of the Pit Dragon Trilogy, that begins with Dragon’s Blood and concludes with A Sending of Dragons.

Jakkin has become a free man and a dragon-master in his own right, by a combination of talent and ambitious hard work. In Dragon’s Blood he stole a baby dragon from his master, Sarkkhan, and trained her up to be a promising young pit-fighter named Heart’s Blood. Now he works for his former master but has a barn and a dragon and even a bondman of his own. Everything he wanted has come his way, but there is still trouble afoot.

At first, it is trouble with his bondman, Errikkin, who does not share Jakkin’s attitude that the only proper thing to do with an empty bond bag is to fill it and become a free man. But soon enough, more serious trouble comes in the form of a Senator named Golden, who wants Jakkin to turn spy and infiltrate a rebel movement.

Jakkin has a head full of dragons. Nothing in the world could interest him in politics, unless they threatened his work with dragons. Nothing except Akki, the estranged daughter of Sarkkhan, who makes Jakkin feel all gooshy inside. And Golden says she has disappeared. Akki was last seen trying to infiltrate a rebel cell in the great city of Rokk. And she needs Jakkin–if he is man enough for the job–to get her out again.

So you just go to the big city, look like you’re lost, get yourself invited to a rebel cell, pretend to sympathize with their cause, and run away with the girl at the first chance…right? It couldn’t be so simple! For mixed up in all this is the excitement and triumph and heartbreak of being a dragon-trainer, coaching the great beasts through fights in the Rokk Major Pit. And then there’s the confusing question of who is using whom for what, as Jakkin quickly finds it difficult to decide where his loyalties should lie: With Golden, who uses people and throws them away? Or with the rebels themselves, whose cell leader seems to be comfortable with the idea of killing people to make his point?

I won’t hide from you that this story comes to a pretty tragic ending. You can see from a long way off, though, that it pretty much has to. But at the very end is a wonderfully unexpected twist that will make you very interested to know what happens in the third part of the trilogy.