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Briggs, Patricia. Dragon blood.

Berkeley, Ace. 275p. c2003. 0-441-01008-3. $6.99. JSA

The story picks up from its prequel, Dragon Bones, some years later, with Ward of Hurog Keep having gotten used to being the secret guardian of his own live dragon, Oreg, who is centuries old and full of magic. Oreg primarily remains in boy form to avoid drawing unwanted attention. Ward has some magic of his own, and has to collapse the fortress walls to prevent scheming mages from gaining access to dragon bones chained in the caves beneath. His destruction of the old curse has freed Oreg and lifted the evil poisoning much of the surrounding land, but Ward lacks connected walls, a front gate and an army to fend off any large-scale invasion. Thus, when a troop from Jakoven, King of the Five Kingdoms, arrives at the gate with a command to appear at court, Ward complies until he can discover what plan Jakoven has contrived. Ward has been informed of a growing rebellion from Tisala, a woman who had helped him in his last conflict, when she escaped to him, tortured and severely damaged. Ward suspects the king's writ is an opportunity to prove him incompetent and take over the Hurog keep in a political maneuver. After he is imprisoned in the same mage's asylum as the king's brother, Kellen, Ward is drugged and tortured not for but for his blood. Jakoven has found the Faronsbane, an artifact containing the imprisoned spirits of three dragons, and the cause of destruction of civilization once before. To wield it, the user must douse it with the blood of a dragon and Jakoven suspects Ward's ancestry will work. Ward's fears worsen as he realizes that not only is he in danger of losing Hurog but everyone in his bloodline, especially if Jakoven discovers a true dragon still resides in the ancient keep.

The characters are fully developed, alternating action with affection and salvation. There are some excellent creepy bits, a beginning torture scene that never descends into disgusting, a very sweet romance and a terrific storyline. This is an engrossing read; I'm looking forward to the next installment of the adventures of Ward of Hurog. Liz LaValley, Mattapoisett, MA
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Author:LaValley, Liz
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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