Margaret Weis is known for her work with dragons, so it comes as no surprise that her latest trilogy is also about them. This time, though, she has created her own world and designed her own little dragon society. The first book, Mistress of Dragons, was an excellent beginning, showing us just enough of the world to intrigue us and populating it with interesting characters. Granted, the world wasn't explored very thoroughly, but there was just enough there to make us wonder. The Dragonís Son holds on to the few shortfalls of the first book and gives us a few more, hamstringing the characters and introducing others about whom readers don't care at all. It is a major step down, but it still looks recoverable for the third book.
Melisande is dead, but her progeny live on. One son born of an illicit encounter with King Edward of Idlyswylde while on the run from Grald, a dragon possessing the body of a human, another son born of a rape by the same dragon, each child has his share of the dragon magic. Ven (short for Vengeance) has been raised by Melisande's lover, Bellona, hiding in the forest for years, keeping the fact that his legs are those of a dragon from anybody who would encounter them. Marcus, the human child, has grown up in King Edward's court, raised by his wife as if he were her own. Both sons hide a part of themselves in the hopes that Grald will not be able to find them. Draconas, a dragon in the guise of a human, watches over them both, trying desperately to find out what Grald's plan is so he can report to the Dragon Parliament. As the boys grow, so does their magic, and Grald comes closer and closer to achieving his goal of finding the boys. Can Draconas keep them safe, or will Grald's plan tear apart dragon society and rain fire down on all of humanity?
There are so many things wrong with this book that I'll start with the good stuff to get it out of the way. Draconas is again the most interesting character in the book. While he does care about humans, and humanity in general, he is not above using people to further his own ends when the circumstances seem to demand it. He doesn't like it, but he knows it has to be done. He is harsh with the boys when he needs to be, but the sequence where he brings Marcus out of the shell in which he has encased himself demonstrates that he really does care.
Unfortunately, for the second book in the trilogy, Weis gives readers a rather dull narrative with characters who are difficult to care about. Some of the characters from the first book aren't used that much at all (criminally, Draconas really doesn't factor into the book that much, and Edward doesn't have a lot to do, either) while others almost undergo lobotomies. Bellona is almost nothing like the warrior she was in the first book. While her grief over Melisande and the resentment she feels about having been charged to take care of Ven is understandable, she doesn't reveal any sign of the woman she once was. Later, readers are told that, deep down, she really did love and care for Ven. But we are never shown it, not even when the story is being told from her point of view.
Instead, we are given three new characters: Ven, Marcus, and the daughter of a thief, Evelina. Ven and Evelina are thoroughly unlikable, while Marcus is just dull. Ven has lived his entire life alone with Bellona, only interacting with people during the annual town fair, and even that he stops attending from the age of six to the age of sixteen. Thus, he is naÔve in a lot of ways, and Evelina takes advantage of that. The reader can see what is coming between them and just not care. In fact, one almost thinks "good riddance." It is hard to feel sorry for Ven, and Evelina is completely amoral, looking out for herself at all times. Yet she inexplicably falls in love almost instantaneously with somebody right at the end of the book. The startling nature of this throws the reader completely out of this one.
Readers really donít feel like a part of this world that Weis has created. We get some details on a couple of different fairs that Bellona and Ven go to, and we see the underbelly of another city. We also see a hidden city but don't really get too much of a view. The world seems to exist as no more than a place for these events to happen. The religion seems based on Christianity (with God, saints, abbeys, monks and nuns), but we certainly don't get an impression of how this religion affects people's lives. It's a shame, really, as Weis is usually a capable world-builder.
The book ends with a wonderful twist that leaves readers looking forward to the third book, but part of that is because it seems that Draconas will be featured a great deal more than he is in The Dragonís Son. This twist completely turns around readersí understanding of what is going on Ė in a fantastic way. The book is a very quick read, which makes getting through it easire despite the dull spots. It also helped me that I had a break in the middle where I discovered that the first copy of the book I had was missing a bunch of pages, and it took me a couple of weeks to track down another copy.
All in all, The Dragonís Son is worth reading once to continue the story. Weis is capable of better than this, and one has high hopes for the third book in the series. It would be almost impossible for her to drop the ball as badly as she did this time.