Genre: Fantasy – Young Adult
Series: Dragonback #1
Publisher: Tor Books (October 25, 2016)
Author Information: Facebook
Length: 240 pages
My Rating: 3 stars
Dragon and Thief is a short, scifi story based upon a really cool idea (If you – like me – think sentient, symbiotic aliens who live on your skin as tattoos, talk to you, and can turn into warrior-poet dragons is cool.), and I can see middle grade readers (the intended audience) really enjoying it. I even believe others (who might only know Timothy Zahn from his Star Wars Expanded Universe novels) will find this straightforward tale an entertaining adventure worth their time.
The fun begins when Draycos, the aforementioned K’da symbiote, survives the destruction of the starship he is traveling on and is forced to find a new host within six hours. This causes our alien to join with the problem teenager Jack Morgan, who is a trained thief but doesn’t really enjoy his chosen profession. But instead of this joining calming things down for our dynamic duo, it results in each gaining new enemies, whom they must flee before, while also trying to pull off a tricky robbery of the most powerful people in the galaxy.
Other than the cool concept (How can you not love an alien warrior tattoo?), what keeps a reader turning pages here is the two main characters and their struggle to co-exist once they find themselves united. While it might seem strange, Draycos and Jack really don’t hit it off right away. Draycos is a true warrior-poet with a deep devotion to always doing right according to his moral code. Jack Morgan, on the other hand, has grown up as a thief, trained by his con man uncle Virgil; his general attitude is one of self-preservation and no concern for the harm his action might do to others. So, naturally, these two spend a great deal of time dealing with their interpersonal conflicts, learning about one another, and attempting to overcome their differences and work together as a team.
No story is perfect however, and I did have one problem with Dragon and Thief, specifically the feeling that nothing was resolved by its end. I mean, I knew going in that this was the first installment of a series, but my expectation was that, at least, something would be resolved in this narrative. Instead, the story read more like an extended introduction to the characters and a setup for the conflicts going forward in the series, creating dangling plot threads everywhere while leaving little feeling of satisfaction.
Overall, Dragon and Thief was a fun read that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys middle grade or young adult stories. The idea was cool; the characters are interesting; and the science fiction elements are easy to digest. No, our heroes don’t blow up the Death Star at the end, but they definitely have a lot of future adventures set up for the rest of the series to focus on.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.