Sanctuary: A rather dull installment

Sanctuary by Mercedes Lackey science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsSanctuary by Mercedes Lackey science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsSanctuary by Mercedes Lackey

Sanctuary (2005) is the third book in Mercedes Lackey’s DRAGON JOUSTERS quartet. You need to read Joust and Alta first. There will be spoilers for those first two books in this review of the third.

Vetch has come a long way. When we first met him in Joust, he was the servant of a cruel master in his home country of Alta. One day he was picked up by a Tian Dragon Jouster named Ari and set to work as a dragon boy for his country’s enemy. Eventually he escaped with the dragon he secretly raised from an egg, flew back to his home country of Alta and, with the skills he learned from Ari, began overhauling the Altan system of raising and training dragons. Now he is called by his birth name, Kiron.

Kiron was surprised to find that his own country is not blameless in the war with Tia and the fault lies with the magi who have discovered a way to extend their own lives by causing the deaths of others (this kind of over-the-top evil is so typical of Lackey). When the magi assassinate the prince and turn against the jousters, the jousters and their dragons flee to a desert location they call Sanctuary. Soon refugees start showing up and they are not only from Alta, but from Tia, too, because the Tian mages are now also using the evil life-draining magic. Together the people of Sanctuary make plans to conquer the evil mages of both countries.

Dragon Jousters (4 book series) Kindle EditionCompared to Joust and Alta, Sanctuary is rather dull. It’s mostly about the jousters’ arrival and set-up of Sanctuary. There is much description of the buildings they find in the desert, as well as all of the other amenities that they either find or build (like magic, everything they need is provided or somehow easy to acquire). There is a lot of dragon raising and training, and lots of dragons hunting for food — the same sorts of activities we witnessed in the previous books, now with some new people in a new location.

There are a couple of romances going on too, including the really annoying type where the princess can only marry someone who’s noble so he can help her rule the country and — surprise! — Aragorn the guy she loves turns out to be secretly noble and perfectly capable of helping her keep her country in control! Yay!

Eventually someone foresees something that means they need to get going with their attack on the magi, and that finally leads to some encounters with the nasty little guys. As usual, though bad things happen and lives are in danger, there is little tension and scary moments are quickly resolved. Our heroes get very lucky, as they have been throughout this series, when complicated and tricky plans just happen to work, or people happen to be in the right place at the right time, or they happen to correctly guess what their enemies will do, or important items and places are not guarded when they should be. There’s never any doubt that our heroes will succeed.

Sanctuary is not the end of the DRAGON JOUSTERS story. A fourth book, called Aerie, must be about the rebuilding of Alta and Tia after the (few) events that occur in Sanctuary. I think readers will want to know if Vetch/Kiron ever reunites with his mother and sisters and, knowing Mercedes Lackey, I’m guessing that will happen in Aerie. If Tantor Media, the publisher of the audiobook edition, sends it to me, I’ll read and review it (I like Ryan Burke’s narration) but if they don’t, I will be just fine without it.

Published in 2005. In the third novel of the best-selling Dragon Jousters series, The Altan serf Vetch has escaped the enemy kingdom of Tia, only to find his homeland, Alta, enslaved by the evil Priest-Kings. With a small band of followers, Vetch must gather a secret army of dragon riders to rid their world of war and magical domination once and for all.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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3 comments

  1. I was going to say, snarkily, “Well, sanctuary probably is boring. Let’s ask Julien Assange!” But reading the review, I see that the boredom comes mostly from the ease with which they build their desert fortress.

    Trying to build a desert fortress while being flooded with desperate refugees could be really interesting!

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