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Dragon Bones    by Patricia Briggs order for
Dragon Bones
by Patricia Briggs
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2002 (2002)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ward of Hurog has grown up in a family poisoned by the evil committed by an ancestor against dragonkind. His mother is lost in drugged dreams, his sister Ciarra is mute, his younger brother fled long since after a suicide attempt, and Ward himself has long worn a mask of imbecility to avoid his father's continual abuse. On the same day as Ward's father dies, he meets Oreg, the ghost mage of Hurog, who passes on the ring that makes Ward Hurogmeten.

But Ward only briefly has his heart's desire. After insisting on the keeping of a tradition that there are no slaves in Hurog, Ward is displaced as ruler and threatened by a favorite of the king with imprisonment in the King's Asylum. He flees, along with his sister, the slave mage Bastilla, stable master Penrod and his body servant Axiel. There's a war brewing in Oranstone, and Ward decides to seek fame through battle, in order to bolster his position in reclaiming Hurog.

Patricia Briggs tells an exciting tale, well plotted with interesting characters. What makes Dragon Bones better than the average fantasy yarn is that the author pulls the wool over her readers' eyes with respect to who are the good and bad guys. There are quite a few surprises including the one by which Ward wins back his heritage, and then loses it again, for a greater good ... and the ending is most satisfying.

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