Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book Review: Dragon and Liberator

The sixth and final book in the Dragonback series by Timothy Zahn finally wraps everything up neatly-- and excitingly! Who is friend? Who is foe? The answers may surprise you...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Book Review: Dragon and Judge

A quick stop on the planet Semaline turns into a prolonged adventure. Jack ends up serving as a judge to a group of aliens, and while doing so discovers who his parents were and just what happened to them the last time they were on Semaline. The fifth Dragonback book by Timothy Zahn.

Book Review: Dragon and Herdsman

The fourth book in the Dragonback adventures finds Jack and Draycos on an obscure world herding... K'da? No, they're actually Phookas-- K'da that aren't intelligent. Back for more adventures is the mysterious Alison Kayna. Just why does she keep cropping up? Is she one of the good guys? Or is she really a spy? Jack and Draycos don't know, but they might be about to find out. In the meantime, however, bad guys are chasing them through the woods, and Jack must herd the Phookas along-- or else enemies will kill them all. While Jack, Draycos, and Alison are doing this, Alison "wakes up" a Phooka, transforming her new friend into a full K'da named Taneem.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book Review: Dragon and Slave

What have Jack and Draycos gotten themselves into this time? The third book in the Dragonback series kicks off with Jack trying to infiltrate the Choockook family estate on the planet Brum-a-dum, home to the alien species Brummgas. Working as a team, Jack and Draycos must try to solve a puzzle that seems to have more pieces than they can fit together.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Review: Dragon and Soldier

The second installment of the Dragonback books, Dragon and Soldier, finds Jack and Draycos trying to track down yet another clue. This time, their search has led them to the Whinyard's Edge, a mercenary group that may have had a hand in the attack on Draycos' people. They sign up as part of the underage mercenary army, and in the process meet Alison Kayna. Who is Alison, and why does she seem to be so good at everything they're learning as soldiers?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review: Dragon and Thief

Book One of Timothy Zahn’s Dragonback adventures, Dragon and Thief is an exciting but somewhat bizarre science fiction story. If you can get past the initial weirdness, the series as a whole is very exciting and entertaining. The main characters are Jack, a fourteen-year-old human boy, and Draycos, a dragonlike alien who prefers to be thought of as ‘a poet-warrior of the K’da.’ It’s a bit difficult to explain about Draycos, but I’ll do my best. Most of the time he looks like a shiny gold dragon about the size of a small tiger, as the book puts it. However, that's only when he's in three-dimensional form. He can also become two-dimensional (and still be alive). To illustrate this concept, please imagine that you have a tattoo (if you don't already have one). Now imagine that that tattoo can move around on the surface of your skin. This is sort of what Draycos does when he becomes two-dimensional and "rides" Jack's skin. As a K'da, Draycos is three-dimensional for most of the time, but he needs a symbiont host in order to recharge. If he goes without becoming two-dimensional on his host's skin for over six hours, he'll die. The K'da aren't parasites, though-- they take nothing from their hosts (except maybe their privacy, as Jack points out in the earlier pages of the book), and give protection and companionship in return.

Sounds weird, yes, but the book does a far better job explaining that whole concept than I just did. However, that whole two-dimensional thing frequently comes in handy whenever Jack needs to hide the fact that he's got a small dragon with him. On Jack's skin, Draycos just looks like a full-body dragon tattoo, and anyone who sees him (and hasn't heard of the alien species K'da) thinks that's just what Draycos is. That's a good thing, as there are alien bad guys called the Valahgua who want to destroy the K'da and the Shontine (the other K'da hosts), who are coming to the Orion Arm to find a new home. The trouble is, an unknown ally to the Valahgua has already nearly eliminated the K'da/Shontine advance team (that's what Draycos survived), and knows the rest of the refugee fleet is coming.

Together, Draycos and Jack make a good team. Jack has a rather checkered past, thanks to his uncle, Virgil Morgan-- the best safecracker in the black-market business. Uncle Virgil frequently used Jack as a distraction for anyone who might stop Virgil in his work, and was apparently trying to train Jack to follow in his footsteps. Since his uncle's death, Jack has been trying to reform, but eleven years of habit are hard to break-- especially since before he died, Virgil Morgan programmed Jack's ship, the Essenay, with a computerized personality of himself. Luckily, Draycos is around now, and begins teaching Jack about ethics and doing what's right, even when there's no reward involved. Jack thinks it's a waste of time-- at least at first.

When some unidentified bad guys kidnap Jack in order to find Virgil Morgan--since Jack didn't exactly print an obituary-- it's up to Jack to perform one last safecracking job in order to clear himself for a crime he didn't even commit...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Review: I, Robot

If you’ve seen the movie, then I should tell you that it’s nothing at all like the book. (Honestly, I’m not exactly sure where the movie directors got the plot for their movie… there are perhaps two very minor incidents in the book that are similar, and that’s all.) However, the format of the book I,Robot is actually a series of short stories all happening to the same group of people, and which are quite thought-provoking. Isaac Asimov’s books are usually just a little out of my depth, but I always enjoy them nevertheless. If you like good, logical thinking and problem solving, you’ll probably like this book.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Book Review: Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood

This book by Meredith Ann Pierce has been one of my favorites for quite some time. I always finish it thinking that the ending was a little weak-- and weird-- but I like the beginning and middle so much that I always re-read it. Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood is about a girl named Hannah, who lives in the middle of the Tanglewood in a hut with her companions: Badger, Magpie, and three mischieveous fox pups. They can talk to her and she can understand them, unlike the local villagers, who keep their distance unless they need medicinal assistance (for Hannah is a healer). She is also the ward of a Wizard, and each month she must brew a special tea for him. Thus she has always done, for as long as she can remember.

Before long, Hannah starts to realize how odd it is that neither she nor Magpie nor Badger (not to mention the too-young fox pups) can remember how they came to be living in the Tanglewood. What is love? Who is the Wizard, really? And why do young, handsome knights keep venturing into the wood? As Hannah begins to discover the answers to these questions, she also eventually discovers who she truly is and the power that lies within her.