The Dragon and The Dove Continued Release


Each week in this place two additional chapters will be published from the Young Adult speculative fiction novel The Dragon and the Dove. The chapters will alternate point of view between the protagonists, so readers will receive the next step in each character’s story.

Bookmark this page and return each week on Wednesdays: The Dragon and the Dove

Book Review: The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell (four stars)

Book Review: The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell (four stars)

“It is your duty to save souls,” Mendoza said. “It is mine to save lives. Our lives.”

Excellent historical fiction for young adults. O’Dell drops the reader into the periphery of a well-known historical event—Coronado’s exploration of the American southwest during the sixteenth century—and spins an engaging

But as the two men left the camp and went up the trail with the bags and implements loaded on a mule, I said to myself, “I shall never in this life see them again.”

Published in 1966. Historical fiction of this quality is now rare. O’Dell recognizes issues present in his narrative, but doesn’t derail the story by sermonizing. Current offerings tend to emphasize message over history.

“Let your manner be courteous. Do not forget that when there is no honey in the jar, it is wise to have some in the mouth.” 

Book Review: Beyond by Mercedes Lackey (three stars)

Book Review: Beyond (The Founding of Valdemar #1) by Mercedes Lackey (three stars)

“Are you sure of this?” “Well, of course I’m not sure. It’s magic. 

Too easy. Ever wondered how a story about an ensemble of Mary Sues might go? Here it is. Nothing ever goes wrong, all the breaks go their way, their luck is beyond luck. Boring. Nothing wrong, just not engaging.

“You’re smarter than you look.” “If I wasn’t, I’d also be deader than I look.” 

Presumably written for … fans. Others will find it tedious. Not Lackey’s best writing.

“I think I like your Record Keeper. It has all the good sense the Duke lacks.” “I heard that.” “You were meant to.” 

Book Review: Uncharted Stars by Andrea Norton (Three Stars)

Book Review: Uncharted Stars (The Zerto Stone #2) by Andrea Norton (Three Stars)

“When there is only one road left, that is the one you walk.”

Not Norton’s best work, but a fun, engaging young adult science fiction adventure. Slow start; she spends first ten pages recapping the previous story. Once again no female characters grace the pages of this story by once of the best female SF writers of her day until the last ten pages.

“My depressed spirits told me that I was already at the point where one surrendered hope and waited for the inevitable blow to fall.” “We could not be far now from the entrance, though I could hardly believe in such fortune.”

Her point of view character has plenty of angst and apparent failures, but his luck in landing in just the right place and the right time pushes credibility. (No one reads these books expecting complete realism, but the author should at least help maintain the reader’s willing suspension of unbelief.)

“Fitting the strip of reader tape in his clawed hands into a recorder.”

Published in 1969, Stars boasts all the technological gaffs one expects of what young readers may not grasp as the way it was versus bad writing.

“… set up his hold orbit to the north.” “The atmosphere was breathable without a helmet.” Ryzk turned to check the atmosphere dials. “Arth type, livable.”

Quibbles: It is impossible to orbit the north of a planet. A polar orbit transects the equator as well as the poles. Have you ever noticed how most SF worlds have breathable atmospheres? For most of its existence, even Earth didn’t have a breathable atmosphere.

“‘Agree! There is an excellent reason.’ And, in spite of myself, in spite of knowing that no excellent reason for such stupidity could exist, I found myself agreeing.”

Book Review: Islands in the Sky by Arthur C. Clark (Three Stars)

Book Review: Islands in the Sky by Arthur C. Clark (Three Stars)

My reason told me that I was perfectly safe, but all my instincts shouted, “You’ve a five-hundred-mile fall straight down beneath you!”

A pleasant if improbably bright teen “wins” a two-week vacation in space. What could possibly go wrong? (Quite a willing suspension of disbelief is required.) Light-hearted young adult adventure which, aside from the alien references, hews close to 1952 reality.

This was the moment when I really knew that I had reached space at last, and that nothing else could ever be the same again.

Written only five years after the invention of the transistor, Clark’s errors in electronic technology are understandable. On the other hand, he gets more science right than many modern author apparently raised on Star Trek pseudo-science. He correctly forecasts geosynchronous communication satellite, for example.

All, that is, except the Morning Star. As everyone knows, she made the first circumnavigation of Venus, back in 1985.

Not nearly the storytelling expected of Clark, but a fun romp through a teen’s wish fulfillment in space minus the bleak themes which dominate modern science fiction.

I want to make one thing quite clear. Although the word “stowaway” has been used, I don’t consider it at all accurate. No one had actually told me to leave the ship, and I wasn’t hiding. … But nobody did, so whose fault was that?

Book Review: Daughter of Dragons by Jack Campbell (Four Stars)

Book Review: Daughter of Dragons by Jack Campbell (Four Stars)

“The future rarely happens as people expect, and even those people with the firmest belief in what their future will hold can be very mistaken. Especially when that person is the daughter of the two greatest heroes of her world.”

A pleasant science fiction series opener set in a world Campbell established in his earlier, Pillars of Reality, series. Humans cut off from Earth become mechanics, mages, and common folks. Though published in 2017, Campbell’s storytelling harks back to the heyday of science fiction for young adults several decades ago. That’s a compliment.

“Why weren’t you staring at my butt?” Jason shrugged. “I didn’t think you wanted me staring at your butt.” “I don’t.” “Then I don’t know why we’re having this conversation.” “Um…yeah.”

The protagonist and friend are less-than-legal-age teens and act like it. Plot, language, and situations reflect their self-awareness of relationships with parents, society, and the opposite sex.

“It figures that some person back on Earth would claim credit for the idea. ‘Plagiarize! Let no one else’s work evade your eyes!’ he said, singing the words.”

Pleasant juxtaposition between a surly earth-raised teen and one from a culture emerging from its industrial revolution. Lots of pop cultural references, which the Dematrians don’t understand, but readers will. Nice cover art.

“How can you find yourself when you’re part of an infinite crowd and everybody is yelling?”

Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (Five Stars)


Book Review: Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

(Five Stars)

“It was awesome!” “You just said you thought you were going to hurl.” “In a good way.” “How do you hurl in a good way?”

Possibly the best story Brandon Sanderson has written. Yes, I know. Better than most of his adult fantasy. Written for young adults, but will engage many readers.

“It’s not your fault you’re a bloodthirsty ball of aggression and destruction.” “I am?” I perked up. “Like, that’s how you see me?” She nodded. Awesome.

Sanderson mostly tells the story from deep inside the head of his protagonist: Spensa. She has a great inner voice. But key scenes include other points of view which increase rather than diminish the conflict.

“I’d always assumed that when I made it–when I finally got here–I’d stop feeling so afraid. But maybe, deep down, I was … worried.”

Your typical Harry Potter/ Top Gun/ Lord of the Rings gathering of misfits, who train, grow and bond, but Continue reading

Book Review: Star Wanderer by Joe Vasicek (Four Stars)


Book Review: Outworlder (Star Wanderer #1) by Joe Vasicek

(Four Stars)

“’There’s a real live girl with me on this ship.’ Few thoughts had ever filled him with so much terror.”

Reads like a throwback to the Golden Age of science fiction. Short, young-reader innocent, reflecting values of fifty years ago. Well done.

“You sure make better company than the stars.” “Stars.” “Yes, stars. That’s good.”

Peculiar that two intelligent young adults are together for three months with so little Continue reading

Book Review: Imager: Imager Portfolio #1, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (Three Stars)


Book Review: Imager: Imager Portfolio #1, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

(Three Stars)

“Hope is always an expectation beyond anticipated reality.”

A steampunk Harry Potter for young adult readers. Excellent world building, despite the lazy two-moons trope. Time, money, foods, and geography map steam-age world–a welcome change from the routine medieval realm.

“So you’re saying. Master, that if I want to be impartial, I should not be a protraiturist, but an imager?”

In the obvious comparison with J. K. Rowling’s wizard, Modesitt has better world building, more believable magic and a more human protagonist. He slows his story with Continue reading

Book Review: Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess (Three Stars)


Book Review: Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess

(Three Stars)

“Ancient knowledge is still–more ancient than knowledge.”

Mediocre short story; marvelous illustrations.

“When nothing is easy, everything is possible.”

Steam punk, so presumably a different world. Given the tectonic and polar shifts, everyone should be dead, not just frozen. Yes, the poles may now be at the equator, but the equator–not all of it–cannot be at the poles. Where did Wesley store the fuel for his various machines?

“The quest is worth more than the find.”