Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The Dragon's Tamer by Megan Derr
Summoned to the royal palace by the King, Alaith spends his days either handling the dragons that plague the kingdom, or holed up in his lonely tower. Unusual in appearance, manner, and his method of taming dragons rather than slaying them, his only distractions from his painfully outcast state in caring for the tamed dragon who resides with him, and admiring the handsome Lord Trey—and arguing with the infuriating Prince Rythe.
When the POV character starts out by scolding the dragon, you know this isn't going to be just any old story.
Alaith tames dragons, he doesn't slay them, though dragons are an almighty nuisance on this world. Opinions on dragons are all over the map, really, they might be useful or they might be pests, but only the Plainsmen are really capable of working with them, so Alaith has a post at this "soft, civilized" court to deal with them. He's an oddity, between his long blond hair, piercings, and refusal to give up his Plainsman ways; and he doesn't want to become like the courtiers. Some he almost likes, and one he'd like to strangle.
Prince Rythe, the fourth son of the king, is "lewd, rude, and in need of a beating" according to Alaith, though his opinion of Lord Trey, Rythe's companion, is much higher. The story goes on to demonstrate that Alaith's instincts are better on dragons than people.
But he can learn, and what he learns is that he doesn't know, and would do better to pay attention and not jump to conclusions.
The story is short and hard to review without spoilers, but the world building is lovely -- the author takes a few small details: dragons, magic, and courting customs, and manages to spend enough time on these few things to construct a world that lets the reader fill in the blanks on the rest. Some of the dragon details are contradictory, but a weed is any plant growing where we don't want it to, so it can make sense without being consistent, like a rose in a cornfield.
The love story is sweet and unconsummated on the page, but as with the world building, once you see where it's going, you can fill in the blanks for yourself... 4 marbles