"The dragon came nearer, its head moving low along the ground, side to side, sniffing. Every time it breathed, it scorched a trail of fire across the earth. Its neck was long, graceful, and glittering like gold. Its wings were folded close against its brilliant body, the wing sections shiny and ribbed like fish fins, the fine bones ending in sharp hooks. The long barbed tail was bent, the bones set crookedly, yet it coiled and uncoiled as slowly and smoothly as a snake. All the dragon's movements were smooth, fluid and fascinating, almost spellbinding in their beauty and their deadliness."
Everyone thinks dragons are extinct--until a fierce flying beast swoops upon the village of Doran, leaving it in flames. Young Jude survives only because, on the fatal day, he went to Rokeby to buy himself a new bow and arrows. Homeless, desperate, and wracked with grief and guilt, Jude joins a travelling fair, where he meets a young Chinese girl, caged and displayed as a freak. Jing-wei, in spite of her humiliating plight, is strong-willed, brave and cunning. She has her own plan for hunting the last dragon. But will it work? What if the dragon lands up merely wounded? Can she help Jude conquer his fear in time to save their world from destruction?
It is Jude himself who tells the story, set in 1356. And this is where problems arise. Jude is an ordinary villager (or peasant) and therefore cannot read or write. Sherryl Jordan's solution is to have Jude relate the story to a monk, who writes at his dictation. Unfortunately, this poses another problem. All Jude's greetings and asides to Brother Benedict are included, which tended to jerk me out of the story because, although they do add background flavour and an extra dimension to the story, their presence felt most unnatural in that Benedict simply wouldn't have been able to write fast enough to get everything down, especially since he would be continually having to refill his quill. But in the face of such powerful story-telling, not to mention the sheer beauty of Sherryl Jordan's prose, to complain about this seems like nit-picking.