7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Here there be dragons,
This review is from: Voices of Dragons (Hardcover)
Here there be dragons... or more precisely, up north there be dragons.
Having added some realistic twists to urban fantasy werewolves, Carrie Vaughn makes a smooth transition into an alternate-history fantasy all about dragons. Her "Voices of Dragons" manages to juggle interspecies friendships, peer pressure, fighter jets and military conspiracies -- and the only downside is that the climax is kind of busy and ends on a big fat To Be Continued.
While rock-climbing near the border of the Dragon lands, Kay has a near-fatal fall -- but is rescued by a young dragon who calls himself Artegal. Artegal and Kay soon become friends and meet regularly to learn from each other, and Kay is even given an ancient book that describes a utopian city where dragons and humans lived together. She even discovers how to create a special flying harness that lets her ride on her dragon friend's back.
Then a fighter jet crashes over the Dragon border, and suddenly the humans and dragons are on the brink of going to war -- especially since a warmongering general has rolled into town, with a new type of fighter jet that can outmaneuver a dragon. Kay knows that the dragons don't want to go to war, but exposing her secret to her fellow humans might make things even worse. And after the dragons launch a deadly assault to show that they'll defend themselves, she and Artegal are caught in a conspiracy aimed at sparking off a full-fledged war.
The backstory behind "Voices of Dragons" is essentially thatd ragons hibernated from the Middle Ages to World War II. It's a pretty fascinating idea, and still simple enough that Vaughn doesn't lose her grip on it -- even though I have the feeling that she's only touched the edge of the dragons' alien natures and culture. But at its heart, this particular book is basically about a dragon and a girl who will do anything to avert a senseless war.
So unsurprisingly, Vaughn's strong smooth writing is at its best when she's focusing on Kay and Artegal -- the scenes where they read and talk together are very cute, and her prose becomes breathtaking when they fly together. But after the crash, everything takes on a darker tinge -- there's some personal tragedy handled in a heart-wrenchingly realistic manner, airborne battles, and the whole deal with the creepy general who doesn't care what happens as long as he gets to kill dragons.
The only major problem is the ending -- the last few chapters are a bit jumbled (seriously, what's the fallout?! What happens?), and the story ends on a "To Be Continued" note just when things are getting good. Come on, it can't end there!
Kay and Artegal are wonderful protagonists for this story -- one is a very normal, likable young woman struggling with peer pressure and the question of whether to have sex, and the other is a beautiful, primal, alien creature who is seeking to understand the humans. Vaughn builds up their friendship slowly and painstakingly, and because of that they seem more like true friends than most dragon/human teams.
Rather than the "ye olde medieval" approach, Carrie Vaughn puts her dragons in a solidly modern world -- and a plot filled with twists, action, and tragedy. But the highlight is the friendship between Artegal and Kay.