The King of the Crags: The Memory of Flames, Book 2

Stephen Deas, Roc, $25.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-451-46376-0

This bleak sequel to 2010's The Adamantine Palace holds up a dark mirror to companion animal fantasies. The aristocrats treat their dragons as prized pets, little knowing that the creatures are intelligent, capable of speech, and only controlled with harsh drugs and brutal training. As the escaped white dragon Snow plots to free her imprisoned fellows, the usurping Queen Zafir and her equally amoral lover, Prince Jehal, take power and immediately turn on each other. An array of conspirators rises up against them, led by exiled Princess Jaslyn and the veteran dragonmaster Hyrkallen. In this cold world, alliances are formed for revenge, comfort, ambition, and religious revelation, but never true affection. Fans of grim epic fantasy will find these intrigues engrossing. (Feb.)