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Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books, 373 pages

Jody A. Lee
Mercedes Lackey
Born in 1950 in Chicago, Mercedes Lackey (née Ritchie) graduated from Purdue in 1972. After some years as an artist's model, lab assistant and security guard, she embarked on a career in computer programming. Active in writing and recording folk songs, Lackey has published close to 50 novels and collections since her first book, Arrows of the Queen, was published in 1985. She won the Lambda award for Magic's Price and the Science Fiction Book Club Book of the Year for The Elvenbane, co-authored with Andre Norton. Besides an interest in scuba diving, Mrs. Lackey is also a licensed bird rehabilitator, specializing in wild birds.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Gates of Sleep
SF Site Review: Take a Thief
SF Site Review: Exile's Honor
SF Site Review: Brightly Burning
SF Site Review: Flights of Fantasy
SF Site Review: The River's Gift
SF Site Review: Owl Knight
SF Site Review: The Black Swan
SF Site Review: Owl Flight
SF Site Review: Storm Breaking
Mercedes Lackey Tribute Page
Mercedes Lackey Bio
Mercedes Lackey Tribute Page
The World of Velgarth

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Vetch's whole world was misery. As a serf working for the vile Khefti-the-fat, he has little hope for anything better. One day he is hauling an oversized bucket filled with water when a man takes it from him and drinks it dry. The man is a jouster, and his dragon, the magnificent Kashet, is nearby. Vetch's awe at the rare site is turned to fear when Khefti comes out and, seeing him without the bucket in his hands, begins to beat Vetch. Ari, the jouster, steps in and decides to take Vetch with him, to become his new dragon boy. Vetch can't believe his new luck. Under the oversight of Haraket, he now has things he'd not had for ages. Clean clothes. Care of his wounds. All the food he can eat. All he has to do is take care of Kashet and Ari, in that order. He works hard, but in return he is taken care of, even protected from the tricks of the freeborn boys.

But serfdom is still serfdom, and no matter how good the chains, they still bind. When Vetch realizes the reason why Kashet is different from all the other dragons -- the gentleness and obedience comes from the fact that Ari raised her from the egg, not from the drugging effects of the tala berries -- he knows that his only true chance at freedom will come from raising one of his own.

Some authors, as they write, sort of slow down. They run out of ideas as time goes by, and their earlier works aren't quite as good. I think Mercedes Lackey is the opposite of this. I like her more with every book I read. This new book -- and it needs to become a series, because even though the story ends, people will be clamoring to find out what happens next -- has a dynamic setting, lush with possibility. The general feel of this world is Ancient Egyptian. Their gods, their way of life, their clothes and attitudes are all inspired by Egypt without being an out-and-out copy. You know it's a different world. I was surprised by it. When I think dragons, I don't think Egypt, but it works so very well. It is evident that Lackey worked out every single aspect of having dragons, from their care (the Jouster's Compound is placed near the temple, so that the dragons can eat the raw sacrifices after the animals are butchered) to the difference between wild dragons and tamed ones. Because we have a main character whose life revolves around making sure every need is filled for the dragon, we get an extraordinarily close-up view. The idea of jousting on dragon back is fun, even if sometimes the actions of the riders when they are set against the enemy, Vetch's own people, is sickening.

Vetch has a great deal to do with the charms of Joust. It's hard not to like someone who has had so little, who struggles to make things better, who is filled with wonder, even gratitude, when thing improve. He is also filled with anger at times (and no one can blame him) but his anger never gets out of hand. Ari and Kashet are also likable, both because they defend and help our hero, and because they are full, well done characters in their own right.

An interesting, well conceived concept and a nice set of characters makes Joust an easy, wonderful read.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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