cover image Havemercy


Jaida Jones, Danielle Bennett, . . Bantam Spectra, $22 (388pp) ISBN 978-0-553-80696-0

Jones and Bennett vividly convey the testosterone-saturated world of fantasy fighter pilots in this fast-paced debut. When the stereotypically Asian Ke-Han threaten the Volstov empire, graduate student Thom is sent to rehabilitate the Dragon Corps, an ersatz air force of rebellious, violent young men who fly enormous metal dragons animated by magic. As Thom struggles with his task, challenged most by the brutish ace Rook, the Margrave Royston, banished for an illicit homosexual affair, befriends Hal, an innocent but brilliant tutor who eventually becomes Royston's lover. These four join minds and skills to solve the mystery of a devastating plague and defend Volstov from the foreign army. The insular corps culture of combative homoeroticism and masculine archetypes dominates the book, as female characters fade far into the background. Despite few surprises or original flourishes, Jones and Bennett credibly bring the decadent empire and its inhabitants to life. (July)