And Then I Read: HEART’S BLOOD by Jane Yolen

Cover illustration by Dominick Domingo

This is the second book of the Pit Dragon trilogy. Book one, “Dragon’s Blood” was a coming-of-age story in which young Jakkim steals and trains a dragon on his world of Austar IV, a former penal colony, now a semi-independent world known for dragon-fighting in arenas and the gambling on them. Jakkim had been a bondsman to dragon-trainer Sarkkhan, but won his freedom in the first book, though he still works with his own dragon, Heart’s Blood, in Sarkkhan’s training compound.

Here the story becomes more political as Jakkim is tasked with finding and rescuing Sarkkhan’s daughter Akki, who vanished a year earlier and is either working with or a prisoner of a group of rebels in the world’s capital city of Rokk. With the help of a senator and Sarkkhan, Jakkim will attempt the dangerous business of infiltrating the rebels, who want to free Austar IV from all ties to the larger galactic empire, and will resort to any kind of violence to do so. He must also enter Heart’s Blood in arena fights as his cover, even though she is pregnant.

I enjoyed this book, perhaps not quite as much as the first one, but it does have interesting characters and enough plot twists to keep me guessing, ending in a very different way than I expected. The double KK in every name gets a bit old, but otherwise it’s well written. Recommended.

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