Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen

Dragon’s Blood, by Jane Yolen, was published in 1982 by Delacorte.

Jakkin is fifteen and a bond servant, which is little better than a slave. He labors for Master Sarkkhan in the dragon barns, tending to the beautiful beasts who are raised to fight in the pits. Jakkin’s only hope of freedom is to steal a hatchling, secretly train it as a fighter, and win gold enough to pay his way out of bondage. But does he know enough to train his dragon to become a true champion?

Rating: 2/5

Clearly influenced by Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, Dragon’s Blood is a science-fiction/fantasy that didn’t turn out to be anything I was expecting when I picked it up. I thought it would be a fun dragon book (How to Train Your Dragon still makes me squeal in excitement); I was not expecting something akin to McCaffrey’s works. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing—it just caught me off guard.

I’m not a huge fan of science fiction, especially this kind, where strange terms and words are introduced and everything is described in detail—but sometimes not until midway through the book, where it seems strange. So I didn’t love Dragon’s Blood. I have nothing against Yolen’s worldbuilding or plot; there was some neat stuff at the end and as a whole the world made sense and the plot was pretty strong, though perhaps a bit rushed at the end. I simply don’t really like science fiction.

I can’t even say I dislike Dragon’s Blood for being such an obvious tribute/imitation of McCaffrey. I have read some of McCaffrey and liked it, but I had the same problems with it as I do with Dragon’s Blood. I like my dragons in fantasy, not science fiction. I like my worlds less meticulously and strangely described, or perhaps at least more smooth integrations of infodumping. This is a genre issue, not a particular issue with characters, world, etc. In fact, I didn’t even really dislike Dragon’s Blood at all—I just didn’t really love it.

Science fiction. It’s just not my thing.

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: Some innuendo, breeding terminology.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

All dragons, he reminded himself with the conventional trainer’s wisdom, all dragons are feral, even though they have been domesticated for over two centuries. And especially dragons like Blood Brother.

As if hearing his name, Brother jerked his head up. Deep inside the black eyes there was an iridescent flicker, the sign of a fighter. Involuntarily Slakk stepped back. Errikkin stood his ground. Only Jakkin went forward, holding out a hand.

“Hush, hush, beauty,” he crooned, letting Brother sniff his hand. “It’s the baths for you.”

You can buy this book here: http://amzn.to/2nja7oG

Snow In Summer: If The Story of Snow White Happened In West Virginia In 1937

Snow in Summer is written by Jane Yolen. It was published in 2011 by Philomel Books. It is a re-telling of the fairy tale of Snow White set in the mid-1900s. Yolen’s website can be found here.

Genre: Realistic Fantasy

Summary/Blurb:

“With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father’s garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother.

But when the baby dies soon after he’s born, taking Summer’s mama with him, Summer’s fairy-tale life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and a magical mirror into Summer’s world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she’s up to no good. Is Summer powerless to stop her?”

~Inside Flap

Cover Art (which I quite like)

Passages/Quotes:

“After Mama died and spring came again, and then summer, Papa became do-less. He hadn’t the energies to tend our gardens and they all began to run to weed and seed, the greens bolting like horses let out of an open stable door.”

~Yolen 11

“Did Papa fall in love that instant? I was never to know for real. But that woman radiated a power, or so Cousin Nancy would say later. The kind of magic that wraps a man around her finger and drives him to the brink of madness. I don’t know if it was True Love, but Papa was plumb crazy from that moment on.”

~Yolen 39

Warnings: Cults and cult behavior.

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Rating: 1/5

Snow in Summer, a flower (and the name of the main character)

What I Liked:

For a modernization of a fairy tale, this one’s pretty decent. It follows the tale of Snow White pretty faithfully.

What I Didn’t Like:

I didn’t really like the style Yolen used in writing this tale. Full of “I didn’t know that until much later” and “We thought we had won. But we found out we were wrong” and other similar things. I’m not a big fan of that type of omniscient narration. The switches in POV that Yolen made also took away a lot of the suspense that she had set up in the previous POV.

It would have been nice if we had learned more about Willy or seen him from Snow’s POV before the end. I felt like he was just thrown in to fill a spot required for the fairy tale.

It was simply a very “blah” book (and also somewhat creepy at parts). Nothing stood out as wonderful, amazing, astonishing, etc.

Disney’s Snow White

Overall Review:

Snow in Summer is a good retelling of a fairy tale, but not great. There were a number of things that could have been improved or done away with altogether, and the style Yolen used sucked out a lot of the thrill of the text.

Coming Up Next: The Ring of Solomon by Jonathon Stroud