Sanctuary, the third and final installment of Mercedes Lackey's Dragon Jousters trilogy (Joust and Alta), heralds a climactic era in the series. As a cadre of evil sorcerers prolong the bloody war between Alta and Tia for their own twisted desires, Kiron -- a humble serf turned heroic dragonrider -- and an ever-increasing group of exiles try to end the conflict once and for all.
Kiron and refugees from both Alta and Tia have found Sanctuary, an almost mythical lost city in the desert where they have begun to build a new society based on tolerance. Sanctuary is to be "the city of the Gods of Alta and Tia together in harmony, the symbol of the joining of the Two Lands." With a growing number of dragonriders as the city's protectors, the Sanctuary brain trust -- which includes the prophet Kaleth and the city's new rulers, Nofret and Ari -- resolves to fight the sorcerers (known as Magi) and try to save the thousands of innocents from their clutches. But how can a handful of dragonriders defeat a group of almost invincible wizards?
On the subject of dragons, Lackey says "sooner or later every fantasy writer seems to have a go at them." But unlike McCaffrey's bio-engineered fire-breathers, Margaret Weis's sentient overlords, or J.R.R. Tolkien's treasure-hoarding monstrosity Smaug, Lackey's dragons are more like wild birds of prey. She describes them as "featherless raptors the size of small airplanes." Fans of dragon-powered fantasy sagas will thoroughly enjoy how Lackey delves into the legendary creatures and their relationship with their human riders. Paul Goat Allen