Bewildering Stories

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Timothy Zahn’s Dragon and Thief

reviewed by Jerry Wright

Dragon and Thief (A Dragonback Adventure)
By Timothy Zahn
Tor Books
ISBN #0765301245
256 pages
Hardback $24.95(US)

I like Tim Zahn. I never much cared for the Blackcollar and Cobra books, but the rest of his writing is just down my alley. Someone on one of the Analog/Asimovs forum mentioned Dragon and Thief and said it was a YA book, so my ears pricked up. Tim is the perfect author to write a YA book, as his writing is generally squeaky clean, and yet exciting and well written. And this is the first of a series. The Dragonback series. Yah, right, a kid riding on the back of a dragon. How original. Only, boy did I have it wrong. The dragon rides on the kid's back. But wait, he's big, like eight feet tall...

Draycos (c'mon, Tim, we can do better than that!) is a K'Da poet-warrior. And a dragon, sort of. He is a symbiont (YAY Tim, not Symbiote!!!) who requires a host who exists wholly in our 3-dimensional universe. K'Da can be two dimensional or three dimensional, but they can only be 3-D for 6 hours. Otherwise to survive, they have the need to two-dimensionally wrap themselves around a host. Sound weird to us, so think of how it must sound to 14-year-old Jack Morgan!

Jack is an orphan (and thief by training) with an inherited spaceship hiding on a wilderness world because of being framed for theft of cargo he was transporting. A space battle overhead ends in a ship crashing close to him, and as he searches the damaged craft he comes upon Draycos, whose host has expired, and is about to die himself.

Where and why Draycos is in Human Space, how the pair set about clearing Jack's name, and how the pair learn to complement each other, makes for a fine story. Some people have complained that the story doesn't have a solid ending, and it is true that the majority of problems proposed are not solved, but the primary problem, and Jack's antagonist, are quite nicely taken care of. The first of a proposed 6 volume saga is well written but quite accessible to younger readers, while easily holding the attention of us old dudes.


Copyright © 2003 by Jerry Wright