Daw, March 2004, 24.95, 384 pp.
The war between Tia and continues because of the Jousters and their dragons, the first line of offense on the borders. Although Tia has more Jousters and dragons Alta has the magi which sends bad weather into Tia so that the dragons cannot fly. Kiron, a former serf made dragon boy to jouster Ari and his dragon Keshet discovers that he is the only one who besides Ari who does not have to drug his dragon to get him to obey him. In a daring move, Kiron steals an egg, empresses the dragonet when it hatches, trains it and flies back to Alta to try to end the war.
He believes he can show the Altan Jousters a better way of fighting with the undrugged cooperation of their dragons even though his country men have less trained jousters. Kiron is accepted on to Altan training grounds and has eight youngsters impress their dragons and the nine become one wing united in their love for their dragons. There is a powerful shadow group in Alta who doesn't want the war to end and will use horrific methods to achieve their goals. Kiron and his followers must prepare for the day that the enemy will want the Jousters dead.
In JOUST, the prequel to ALTA, readers are shown the culture of Tia and how the ongoing war affects the conquerors, the serfs and the Jousters. ALTA shares the viewpoint from the other side and how one escaped serf gives hope and a plan of action to the demoralized Jousters. Mercedes Lackey, one of the great fantasists of our time, writes a coming of age story that is memorable and enjoyable.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner