cover image Steelhands


Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett. Spectra, $26 (448p) ISBN 978-0-553-80770-7

Colorful atmosphere and a talky lack of action define Jones and Bennett's tortoise-paced fourth novel (after 2011's Dragon Soul) of fighter pilots on dragonback. Volstov's heroic Dragon Corps, now dismantled, helped defeat the wily Ke-Han. Now gruff former Chief Sergeant Adamo; amazonian Laure and her flaming "fianc%C3%A9," Teverre; and prosthetic-handed diplomat and hero Belfour are reduced to dawdling through a search for bumpkin Gaeth, one of Adamo's students. Their quest leads to the discovery of a new generation of mechanical dragons being assembled with nefarious blood magic to form a new Dragon Guard, violating the Esar's treaty with the Ke-Han. Probably appealing most to young adult tastes, this extended m%C3%A9lange of adolescent angst, exploitative romantic relationships, and barracks humor never really takes flight. (Aug.)