Mediocre military adventure, the second in a trilogy that began with Dragonmaster (2005).
His own steed sidelined by injury, Hal Kalais, Dragonmaster of all of Deraine’s aerial squadrons, is assigned a new dragon with which to fight the evil Roche. Since man and beast are unfamiliar with each other, when an enemy dragon-flier makes a deft attack, Hal is thrown from his saddle and plummets to the ground below. He survives with nary a scratch but is soon picked up by Roche ground forces. Though Hal manages to break free, he’s soon recaptured and taken to Castle Mulde, a secret Roche fortress with an Alcatraz-like reputation. Enchantments placed on the prisoners make escape all but impossible—but not for clever Hal, who gets away and subsequently rescues the abundance of Deraine dragon-fliers he found in captivity at Mulde. With them, Hal forms an elite squadron that might just be what Deraine needs to turn the tide of the war. With its overabundance of machismo, frequent and painstakingly described battle sequences and clipped pedestrian prose, this is not a thinking fan’s book, though it’s enjoyable enough (if a tad predictable) for those willing to switch off their brains.
Too little original thought, too many hackneyed situations and characterizations.