Master of Dragons is the final book in the Dragonvarld Trilogy by Margaret Weis. As happens with so many other trilogies that are up and down from the beginning to the end, Weis completes the series in a positive manner after a true stinker of a second book. Master makes up for the unlikable The Dragonís Son; it suffers some of the same problems but ultimately overcomes those deficiencies to make a somewhat thrilling conclusion.
The twin sons of Melisande, kept apart for so many years, have come together in DragonKeep, the hidden stronghold where sinister dragon-human breeding experiments are being done in order to establish dragon dominance over the human populace. Some of the dragons are threatened by certain weaponry humans are developing - weapons that could actually kill a dragon, leading to the non-interference law of the dragons being subverted by three dragons - Grald, Maristara, and Anora. An army is being raised, magic-wielding and unstoppable. Young Ven, the son of the dragon, is introduced to his many brethren, all fathered by Grald on various human females, and he is as repulsed by most normal humans as they are by him. Meanwhile, Marcus (Melisande's son by King Edward) and Evelina escape back to his home to warn of the imminent danger. But will they be too late? And will even the help of Draconas the dragon walker be enough to stem the tide? The Parliament of Dragons is divided, and the cost of that might be the wiping out of humanity.
Weis really redeems herself with Master of Dragons. Yes, Evelina is still annoying (more on her later), but Marcus is a much stronger character here than he was in the second book. We don't see a lot of Ven, so by default he isn't as irritating either. In fact, the characterization all around is pretty good, with Draconas (as always) being the best and most fascinating. It truly helps this book that he is featured a lot more than he was before. He has walked among humans for many years, even has a grudging affection for them despite how they get on his nerves. He spends some time hiding in DragonKeep as a little girl while he is being hunted by Grald and his minions. He ends up being sheltered by a nice couple whose daughter has been given to the dragon (though, as far as they know, she is thoroughly happy there, not knowing the evil truth). He feels an upwelling of sympathy for them, especially after he discovers the truth of what happened to their daughter.
There is one bothersome characterization issue, though it isn't strictly the mishandling of the character that is the problem. There are characters that you love to hate and others whom you would just like to rip out of the pages so you would never have to interact with them again while you are reading; Evelina is one of those characters. She is a scheming harpy who only looks out for herself. She unwittingly saves the day at the end, but her conniving becomes abrasive. It doesn't help that Weis figuratively puts her in the reader's face, with her many asides about her schemes (either through narration or Evelina's thoughts). On a bright note, Weis does avoid a last minute redemption for Evelina; that would have made the rest of the story virtually worthless.
The plot is a lot more interesting this time around, too. We finally see the culmination of the dragons' plans, and we see a lot of interesting interaction among the various dragons of the Parliament. Since the reader cares about the characters more this time, the action becomes quite tense. Especially affecting is the menacing possibility of Grald fulfilling his threats to take over Ven and use his body to lead the Dragon warriors to victory. Readers hate Evelina and donít want to see Marcus get hurt by her. Okay, I wouldn't have minded had a dragon swooped down and bitten Evelina in two, but they can't all be winners. Overall, though, the plotting and the characters were quite well done. Even the eye-rolling convenience of the way Evelina unwittingly saves everything is forgivable.
Weis's prose gives the action scenes a vivid feel; readers can almost see the dragons swooping around fighting each other. The final battle between Draconas and the last remaining dragon conspirator is breathtaking. Even more effective is the rescue of Marcus from the dragon army. While the characters involved (with the exception of Marcus) are no one readers have previously been introduced too, Weis gives them just enough depth that the inevitable result feels like it matters.
If it weren't for Evelina (and Weisís inability to make me readers even want to read about her, since we are obviously not supposed to like her), Master of Dragons would easily be a five-star conclusion to a great trilogy. Her ability to bring together the myriad pieces introduced in the first two books is palpable. That, combined with other good characterization and plotting that makes sense, renders this an enjoyable read. I can't wait to see what Weis has up her sleeve next.