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Dragon and Judge    by Timothy Zahn order for
Dragon and Judge
by Timothy Zahn
Order:  USA  Can
Starscape, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dragon and Judge is the fifth in the Dragonback series following Dragon and Herdsman. Fourteen-year-old Jack Morgan has a symbiotic relationship with Draycos, a K'da poet-warrior who can disappear in 2D form or materialize to protect his host. In early episodes, Jack was trained by his Uncle Virgil, a skilled con artist who always put self interest first. Draycos' influence has turned him into an advocate for the K'da, who risk annihilation by an alliance of alien Valahgua, Malison Ring mercenaries, the powerful Brummgan Chookoock family, and renegade Arthur Neverlin.

As this episode opens, Jack and Draycos journey on their ship Essenay, along with a young woman, Alison Kayna, who helped them on their last adventure and now travels with Taneem, a (young and inexperienced female) K'da dragon. Alison has secrets that Jack senses, and neither trusts the other fully. They're separated on the planet of Semaline, where Jack's parents died. He's kidnapped by Golvin locals, who recognize him as a Jupa and take him to a remote canyon, where they expect him to fulfill the role of Judge-Paladin. He discovers that this was what his parents did, and gradually finds out more about their fate and who was responsible for it. He also discovers a new symbiotic ability.

Meanwhile, Alison, pretending to be a safecracker, is captured by Neverlin and his Malison Ring allies led by Colonel Frost, and taken to Brum-a-dum. Like Jack, she finds herself (almost unwittingly) freeing slaves there, at great risk to herself and Taneem. Eventually reunited, Jack and Alison agree to work together to save the K'da, though still keeping their own secrets. It's an exciting series, with plenty of actions and surprises to date, and more sure to follow in further engrossing episodes.

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