Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Book review: Dragon and Herdsman

Today's book review is Dragon and Herdsman by Timothy Zahn.

I picked this book because I wanted something quick, and it was still a week before I could steal enough time to read it.

This is the fourth book in the Dragonback series.  A reader who started with this book, without the background at least of understanding what Draycos is and what his situation is, would be utterly lost.  If you're curious, try Dragon and Thief, where Zahn introduces a truly unusual sort of alien, one that strains the suspension of disbelief but is pretty cool, and work your way forward in the series.  They're pretty quick books.

The writing in this book is better than the last couple; the continuing characters are interesting, and the message has been toned down a bit.  But, unfortunately, the whole plot of this book is a serious deus ex machina.  We run into some people that according to what we were told in the earlier books should not exist, and at the time there's no explanation of where they came from.  Due to the circumstances, there couldn't be, so I suspended judgment as the story ran along through some adventures and a plot twist that foreshadows some cool things happening in the future, but at the same time seems a bit contrived.  Unfortunately, we get to the last page of the book, and instead of providing any explanation for the deus ex machina, he instead drops a big surprise about the identity of a character, in a carefully ambiguous way, as a cliffhanger ending.  So, while it was fun to read, and a little less aggressively YA, the plot was annoying from almost the beginning, with a big mystery really needs a good explanation to save the series, and instead of an answer or even a clue, Zahn presents one of the worst cliffhanger endings I've seen in a long time.

Perhaps the best rating for this book would be "incomplete".  Future volumes might resolve the big problems I had with this one.  But this book by itself, I have to give a 6 out of 10.
Tags: book review, sf, timothy zahn
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