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Havemercy Hardcover – June 24, 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Havemercy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jones and Bennett vividly convey the testosterone-saturated world of fantasy fighter pilots in this fast-paced debut. When the stereotypically Asian Ke-Han threaten the Volstov empire, graduate student Thom is sent to rehabilitate the Dragon Corps, an ersatz air force of rebellious, violent young men who fly enormous metal dragons animated by magic. As Thom struggles with his task, challenged most by the brutish ace Rook, the Margrave Royston, banished for an illicit homosexual affair, befriends Hal, an innocent but brilliant tutor who eventually becomes Royston's lover. These four join minds and skills to solve the mystery of a devastating plague and defend Volstov from the foreign army. The insular corps culture of combative homoeroticism and masculine archetypes dominates the book, as female characters fade far into the background. Despite few surprises or original flourishes, Jones and Bennett credibly bring the decadent empire and its inhabitants to life. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—The cities of Volstov and Ke-Han have been at war for more than a century. Volstov's flying Dragon Corps (think motorcycle gang with wings) is its greatest weapon. Made up of a ragged, motley crew of young men who don't fit in anywhere else in the community, their nightly raids cause havoc and appear to be getting the upper hand, with victory seemingly near. Then things start to change; "the girls"—as the dragon riders call their metal steeds—seem to be "off," unable to communicate, and start behaving as though their riders were complete strangers rather than the almost mind-connected teams they had been. The magicians of Volstov are also plagued with illness and affliction. What is causing the devastating shift in the 100-year war? Who or what is behind the massive change in the balance of combat? Perhaps it is the intruder from the 'Versity who has been stationed inside the Dragon Corps to find out what makes the riders tick; or maybe the Margrave's new lover has thrown the world out of whack, and he is the reason for the magicians' disease? All parties will have to work to save their kingdom, using cooperation and teamwork to do it. Fans of epic fantasy novels will be pleased with this one.—Joanne Ligamari, Rio Linda School District, Sacramento, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; 1 edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553806963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553806960
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,766,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting for quite some time for this book to come out and, though I was initially disappointed by the sheer size of it (a rather unimpressive 388-pages, a quarter of the length of your average Harry Potter book), once I opened the book and immersed myself in its story, I was hard-pressed to pull myself back out again.

Havemercy details the intertwining stories of four very different people: Royston, a magician who has been exiled for dallying with a foreign prince, Hal, the adorable country tutor put in charge of watching over him, Rook, the lewd, crude pilot of Havemercy, the fiercest dragon in the Dragon Corps, and Thom, a young student unluckily roped into attempting to introduce the Corps to a trifling little thing like manners.

The book is extremely slow to start, spending much time, as with all fantasy novels, building up the world and introducing the characters. Action scenes are minimal (I think there were only two of them, possibly three) and the last, perhaps the most exciting, battle took place off-screen, leading to a rather anti-climactic finish. The book could have benefited from the use of a glossary as I've finished it and still have no idea what a 'bastion' is in this world, aside from functioning as a frequently used curse word. However, thankfully, the good well outweighs the bad.

The cast of characters are colorful and memorable. My favorite among them was Hal, whose bright eyes, desire to learn, and unwavering devotion to Royston make him as endearing to me as he is to the Margrave.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm just not feeling the great enthusiasm. I thought "Havemercy" was an interesting spin on some SF tropes and it was really impressive as a first book. The writing was graceful but the book just wasn't more than mildly entertaining for me.
First off, the book was badly unbalanced. The plot was condensed into a few chapters. The book started out slow, which is nice for world building and all, but it took way too long for anything to happen. The action picked up about 3/4 of the way through the book. The action scenes were few but nicely handled but the ending was shamefully rushed.
Second, the world building was sketchy and confusing. The actual role magic played in the society was barely implied. We get a clear view of the power/political aspects used by the emperor but the general society was barely limned in. The three adjoining cities, bearing womens' names, were little more than caricatures. Molly was the slum. Yeah, got it already. What was trade in this society? How much, if any, social mobility was there? There were a few glimpses--young Hal escaping rural isolation, vicious Rook somehow being chosen by his mechanical/magic dragon--but overall the world building was careless at best.
Third, too many of the characters were flat and sterotypical in a novel that's very character-driven. The romance between naive Hal and older Royston was charming in an old-Harlequin-Barbara-Cartland mold. Hal was the essential pure, blushing virgin to Royston's damaged, worldly self. The slow seduction was sweet but corny because neither of the characters were anything more complex than types.
Unfortunately none of the other characters rang true as real people either.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Havemercy starts a little on the slow side as you jump between the four characters who narrate the tale. However, once the momentum builds this becomes a complete page turner. It's hard to categorize the book. Fantasy? Yes. Romance? Well, sometimes. Humor? It's laugh out loud funny at times. Action? Entirely, but you'll wish it had more by the time you weather your way through the final portion of the story.

The dragons you'll encounter are unlike the usual dragon-fantasy-fare. But the wildest creatures in the book are by far the Airmen who man them.

While the plot contains male/male romance, it comes across very naturally. It's sweet and well-crafted and shouldn't limit this story from being shared with a broad audience.

Ms. Jones and Ms. Bennett have crafted an amazing first novel. The dialogue is fresh, funny, and very witty. You'll find that each of the four main voices comes across unique--to the extent that it's amazing that the characters sprung forth from two minds and not four. (Or more.)

At the story's end, you'll be craving more--especially since a handful of very minor characters are absolutely begging to have their stories told.
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Format: Hardcover
HAVEMERCY is a laudable effort by two young, new writers, containing everything you'd want in a good fantasy: an interesting world with believable societies, tech and magic; finely drawn, memorable characters; epic battles as well as romance and moving relationships; and most of all--talking, fire-breathing, metal dragons and the special corps of men who ride them!

The kingdom/empire of Volstov, ruled by the Esar, has been in a nearly endless war with the Ke-Han Empire across the Cobalt Mountains to the south-east. Volstov has maintained the edge during the conflict because they alone have a small but effective air force consisting of 14 metal dragons flown by the daring pilots of the elite Dragon Corps, who are praised and feted throughout Volstov and particularly in their home base in the captial city of Thremedon (near the border, by the Cobalt Mountains).

Unfortunately, during the long, drawn-out war, there are periods of inaction. The tale opens during such a stretch, which has led to the Dragon Corps being at loose-ends and therefore in trouble. Rook, pilot of one of the fleetest, strongest dragons, Havemercy, has insulted the wife of an Arlemagne diplomat. Skilled and daring, but also wild and uncontrolled, Rook is the uncouth, uncaring, outrageous, foul-mouthed product of Molly, the lowest tier of Thremedon City, and he has a chip on his shoulder a mile wide. Rook is one of the four first-person narrators of the tale. His voice is reminiscent of the swearing, tough-talking anti-heroes in a number of recent books--he reminded me a bit of Sarah Monette's Mildmay character (maybe in concert with the use of Bastion for castle/fortress area of the Esar and the tower of wizards, the Basquiat, and the upper-class, erudite voice of the wizard, etc.?).
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