From Mercedes Lackey, renowned for her Valdemar novels (Exile's Honor, Exile's Valor, et al.) that feature the intimate relationship between human Heralds and their sentient horselike Companions, comes an exciting new saga about dragons and the courageous men who train and ride them. Vetch is a young Altan serf working his fingers to the bone for a lazy Tian conqueror who now owns his family's farm. With his father dead and his mother and sisters scattered to the four winds, Vetch lives a nightmarish existence where he is overworked, beaten, and starved on a daily basis. The only thing sustaining him is unadulterated hatred: hatred of the Tians and their dragon-riding Jousters, who are steadily overwhelming the nation of Alta. Vetch's life is ironically spared by a Jouster who, upon seeing how Vetch is being abused, takes him on as the caretaker for his dragon. After learning more about the Jouster, Ari, and his beautiful dragon Kashet, Vetch sees an improbable way to freedom -- by hatching and taming a dragon of his own.
Fans of Anne McCaffrey's Pern saga and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance novels will undoubtedly devour this story, which lovingly portrays dragons -- and how they live, reproduce, hunt, and bond -- in meticulous detail. Additionally, readers will be happy to know that the events in Joust are just the beginning of what should be a lengthy series. Paul Goat Allen