by Jane Yolen
The third in Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon series, this book continues where Heart's Blood left off. Jakkin and his girl Akki are living as fugitives in the mountains, their only company a fast-growing, half-wild brood of young dragons- the offspring of Jakkin's first dragon. They've undergone a transformation that gave them with some of the dragon's powers- including the ability to withstand the desert night's below-freezing temperatures, and to communicate telepathically. But then they encounter a strange, primitive tribe of people who live deep in the mountain caves- and who have also discovered the changes dragons can make in human minds and bodies. These people have lived for generations without speaking, using mental telepathy to bind themselves together. Their society is full of rituals and dark secrets. Jakkin and Akki reluctantly get drawn into their world, finding it hard to resist because on the one hand, they want to rescue the dragons which are being ritually sacrificed by the mountain people, and on the other, they are susceptible to the primitive society's powerful mind-control. If anything, the storyline in A Sending of Dragons is more suspenseful than the previous two books, and it delves even deeper into the exploration of self, and moral questions about how people use dragons on Austar IV.
Thinking about it now, I find it interesting that this series looks so closely at how a society uses its animals- in the first two books, Jakkin didn't like that the dragons were raised for their meat and hides, but had no qualms about fighting them in the betting pits. In this third book, he encounters a society that sacrifices the dragons, but also honors and reveres them. I think if Jakkin had his own way, all the dragons would live wild, free of human control- but then people would barely be able to survive on the forbidding world of Austar IV.
I also couldn't help comparing this series in my mind to Clare Bell's Ratha books. In both series, the main characters encounter another society that is based on group thinking, and have to deal with the threat this difference poses. And both are series I read when I was younger, and have just discovered their continuation as an adult. I was excited to read in a wiki article that Yolen has written a fourth book about the Pit Dragons, called Dragon's Heart, which will be released in May this year. I can't wait to read it!
Rating: 4/5 ........ 312 pages, 1987
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