Jane Yolen,
A Sending of Dragons
(Delacorte, 1987;
Harcourt, 1997)

Jane Yolen concludes The Pit Dragon Trilogy with A Sending of Dragons.

It is months after Jakkin and Akki fled to their mountain refuge with five dragon hatchlings, the last brood of Heart's Blood, Jakkin's magnificent red dragon. The two humans are able to survive the bitter cold of the Austarian night, thanks to their transformation after Heart's Blood's terrible death; they can also "send" to each other as well as the dragons.

For a while, things are pleasant enough, eking out their existence and watching the dragons grow, to the point where they can almost forget that they are refugees. But when a copter is spotted circling over the mountain top, they know that it is almost a matter of time before they are found and captured and that they must find a new place to hide.

They work their precarious way up another mountain and find a concealed cave mouth which opens into a network of caverns. At first, Jakkin and Akki think they have found a refuge, but when they discover a huge stack of what can only be dragon bones, they know that this is not the place for them. But when they encounter a dragon "sending" confused patterns which are similar to those of Heart's Blood, Jakkin is compelled to follow it, and he soon discovers the caverns' secret: a tribe of people who refine metal, a scarce resource on the planet, and who are and are not human, much in the way Jakkin and Akki are.

They become part of the community for a while, learning how to dampen their sendings from each other and in effect, becoming somewhat dulled in general. Then they witness a terrible ritual and know that the time has come to escape before it's too late.

A Sending of Dragons is a fine finish to the trilogy, with characters displaying consistent growth and maturity involved in a compelling story. The ending is at once resolved and open; Akki and Jakkin make a firm decision, but their future -- and the planet's -- is still up in the air. As the introduction, a fictional encyclopedia entry on Austar, hints, the future is something about which the reader can only speculate.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

Buy A Sending of Dragons from Amazon.com.