Dragon and Slave
by Timothy Zahn
Fourteen-year-old Jack Morgan is a remarkable boy in many ways. He has his own spaceship, for starters. An orphan since the age of 3, he was brought up by his late Uncle Virgil a con-man, safe-cracker, and thief who taught Jack everything he knew. Now he flies around in a ship called Essenay, whose computer has been programmed with Uncle Virges memories and personality. He tries not to get into too much trouble. But its hard, especially when he has a tattoo that moves, speaks, and sometimes slides off his body to take the 3-dimensional form of a golden dragon.
Until now, no one else has seen the dragon but that doesnt mean he only exists in Jacks mind. The dragon is actually Draycos, an alien from a distant planet, who needs Jacks help to prevent a deadly trap from wiping out all his people. The sometimes-two-dimensional Kda, along with their usual skin-buddies the Shontine, are fleeing across the galaxy to escape from a ruthless enemy with unstoppable, deadly weapons. Only Draycos survives of the advance guard who were wiped out by an ambush by that same enemy, in combination with mercenaries and conspirators from Jacks part of the galaxy. So they can trust no one not the government, not even the influential businessman whose life they saved in Dragon and Thief. Its up to the two of them to find out who is responsible for the ambush, and to stop it being repeated when the main fleet arrives.
With the fate of at least two races in their hands, and no closer to a solution after attempting to infiltrate a mercenary group, Jack and Draycos follow their thin trail of clues to the planet Brumm-a-dum. Somehow, the slave-dealing Brummgas are involved in the conspiracy. So Jack allows himself to be captured and sold into slavery!
Using his position as a slave to find information turns out to be tougher than Jack expected. The harsh life of slavery takes a toll on his body and mind. Ruthless masters, two-faced traitors, nightmarish forms of punishment, and worst of all his growing conviction that he cannot leave without setting his fellow slaves free, make this a mission Jack Morgan would not survive without the help of his secret partner Draycos. Enter the snake-voiced villain behind all their troubles...and it becomes far from certain that the two of them, even together, can escape.
I have not yet seen the fourth book in the Dragonback series, titled Dragon and Herdsman. But the series started strong, and each book has been better than the last. Its hard to imagine how the fourth book can top this one. I cant wait to find out.
Recommended Age: 12+
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