Lackey, Mercedes: (01-03) Joust, Alta, and Sanctuary

A few weeks ago, I was coming down with a cold and wanted something really undemanding to read. I’d vaguely heard that Mercedes Lackey’s dragon books (Joust, Alta, and Sanctuary) didn’t suck, so grabbed them from the library. I’ve decided that one of the distinguishing characteristics of Lackey’s books is that they completely, absolutely lack all subtlety: everything a character feels, learns, or thinks is spelled out in explicit detail. This is not generally a characteristic that I like, but it definitely fits the “undemanding” bill.

These also have good training neep, which means that I respect them slightly more. Lackey’s dragons don’t teleport or have language, but are instead intelligent animals that can be trained in the way horses, hawks, and so forth can be. Joust tells the story of Vetch, a serf boy, who comes to live at the Jousters’ compound in the country of Tia. There, he helps care for the one tame dragon in the compound (the others are trapped after birth and drugged into submission), and secretly raises his own tame dragon from the egg. At the end, he escapes back to his home country of Alta with his dragon. Alta and Sanctuary tell what Vetch (now known as Kiron) found in Alta, how he put together a wing of riders with tame dragons, and what part they play in the war between Tia and Alta.

There were too many characters in Kiron’s wing for me to keep track of, and like I said, these are not in the least subtle, but in my getting-sick state I thought they didn’t suck, enough to buy the first two in paperback. There is to be a fourth volume, which I will get out of the library when it’s released.

9 Comments

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  1. “Training neep”, Gracie? (Or, as they would say on r.a.sf.w, [*].)

  2. “Neep” = discussions with characteristically geeky levels of detail, at least in the uses I’m familiar with (it apparently started out as a computer thing, and also in the noun form “neepery”).

  3. ALTA is the one where the cover designer should have noted that the font makes the title read as FILTH.
    I liked the training neepery in ALTA – I know that Lackey and her husband are raptor-rescue types, and have met them in that capacity at Conestoga a couple of years ago when they helped a local raptor rescue group they work with give a presentation – and she obviously adapted raptor techniques for the dragons, and managed to keep the dragons from turning into telepathic horse-types. I didn’t like it enough to pick up the other two from the library, though.

  4. I had to go look, and you’re right, it does, but I had to look a little hard to get it to come out.
    There’s more training neep in the first one and a little less in the third, IIRC, but I imagine once you’ve read one and aren’t coming down with a cold, that’s probably all the neep you need.

  5. Well, I think you’re all biased. My brother and I love them, so I don’t see what the big deal is. They’re great books, and that’s the end of it. I even got all my friends to read the book, and they fell in love and read all the other books by Mercedes Lackey. A book is a book, and if you can do better, write something. You’re just criticizing and being lazy.

  6. Katie: Rest assured I will give your comment precisely as much consideration as you appear to have put into it.

  7. I found the books to be enjoyable for rainy days. nothing too complicated and as you say they “absolutely lack all subtlety”. My mom calls these types of books “brain candy”. Even though I didn’t have much trouble with the members of the wing, it was annoying how similar the names where.

  8. Hi sarah–yes, brain candy is the perfect word for it. I think the names contributed to my trouble with Kiron’s wing, as well.

  9. The first time I read them, I thought they were great. But now I’m a little older, a little more mature, and I do have to agree with you that the Dragon Jouster series is “brain candy”. However, I must say that the first two books are way better than the third, though I have not yet read the fourth.

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