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Dragon's Heart: The Pit Dragon Chronicles, Volume Four Paperback – February 7, 2011
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"Yolen’s world-building remains accomplished, and the characters are engaging and sympathetic."--The Horn Book Magazine
". . . fans of the initial trilogy will eagerly read this addition to the series. An introduction and preface allow those new to the series to read this title without reading the first three books, but reading the books in order will undoubtedly be more rewarding."--VOYA (3Q3P)
About the Author
JANE YOLEN has written countless picture books and young adult novels to much acclaim. She's perhaps best known for her How Do Dinosaurs . . . series illustrated by Mark Teague and the young adult novels Sister Light, Sister Dark; Briar Rose; and many others. She divides her time between Massachusetts and Scotland.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sadly, while by no means a terrible book, "Dragon's Heart" feels rather superfluous. Not only does it present a number of plot holes and contradictions with earlier books, but it feels like a transparent attempt to please the fans.
"Dragon's Heart" takes place immediately after "A Sending of Dragons," with Jakkin and Akki returning to the farm where they grew up. Both know the secret for surviving the planet's bitter night cold and communicating with the great dragons... but they know that sharing said secret could spell the doom of every female dragon on the planet. As Jakkin returns to work at the nursery -- and struggles to cope with a world where the bonders have been freed and are struggling to cope with said newfound freedom -- Akki returns to the city to complete her medical training and find a way to bring the gift of dragon-speech to all Austarians without killing the dragons. But there are forces from Jakkin and Akki's pasts that will do anything to keep them silenced forever -- both the remaining rebels who want to seize the government for themselves, and the people of the mountains who seek to take Austar for themselves...
Yolen's writing is servicable, if a step down from the writing of the rest of the trilogy. I understand that a writer's style progresses over the years, and she still retains the gift for lovely bits of description, but she also tends to get bogged down in unnecessary scenes and details. And some of the descriptions in this book get rather stomach-turning, such as a detailed description of a decomposing corpse and the colorful sendings of both dragons and humans being described as "pus-colored" or "puke-colored." Honestly, Yolen, did the book really need this? I know these books haven't shied away from gore before (the detailed description of sheltering inside Heart's Blood's egg chamber comes to mind), but this is just unnecessary...
The book also has a number of plot holes -- the dragons' intelligence seems to have been retconned to make them more animal-like again, nobody seems to be able to receive the sendings of the dragons despite it being commonplace in earlier books, all water and not just the underground river can now block sendings, etc. Also, Jakkin and Akki's sendings seem to be disabled at times, just for the convenience of the plot.
As for characters... they seem to have been twisted out of true over two decades. Is it just me, or is Akki far more antagonistic and short-tempered in this book than in previous ones? Jakkin seems to have lost his spine somewhere along the way, Slakk's sense of humor is neutered early on thanks to a tragedy, and even Likkharn seems to be toned down from before. (There's also a revelation regarding Likkharn and Jakkin that seems tacked on for convenience's sake, and the book could have easily done without it.)
As mentioned before, the dragons suffer the most when it comes to characterization. Whereas before the dragons were shown to be capable of conversation and speech, and even planning practical jokes, here they're reduced to little more than telepathic dogs, communicating almost solely in one- or two-word sentences and colorful picture "sendings." The hatchlings serve mostly as plot devices, and Auricle, the dragon heroically rescued in the third book, plays almost no role whatsoever in this book. This is a major disappointment to me, as the dragons were my favorite part of the original books.
While by no means bad, and an interesting return to Austar IV and its dragons, this book feels largely unnecessary. It isn't required reading to complete the series, and I would recommend it only to die-hard completionists. I understand the fans wanted to see more of Austar IV, but this is one return trip that feels largely superfluous in my mind.
I found the series and bought the first book, and enjoyed it just as much as I did many years ago. I just concluded the series for the first time, and I loved it. The writing style was excellent and delivered the story in a brilliant manner that made me want to read late into the night.
I'd recommend this book to everyone! Great read regardless of age!
I gave this two stars as I enjoyed revisting Austar IV. I really wish I could have given it more.