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Steal the Dragon (Sianim, No. 2) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1995
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When Rialla was young, slave traders from Darran ambushed her clan, killing all the men and enslaving the women and children. For years, Rialla lived in bondage, serving her master while waiting for a chance to escape. When that chance came, she made the best of it—and fled to the mercenary nation of Sianim…
Now she can strike back at her former masters. A lord in Darran seeks to outlaw slavery—but there are plots to kill him before he can. Rialla is chosen by the spymaster of Sianim to prevent the murder—and is plunged into a world of deadly magic, where gods walk in human form. Where her most trusted companions are not what they claim. And where Rialla could be enslaved again…
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“[The] characters are well developed…unique.”—Kliatt
About the Author
- Publisher : Ace; reprint edition (November 1, 1995)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 275 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0441002730
- ISBN-13 : 978-0441002733
- Item Weight : 6 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.2 x 0.72 x 6.73 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #261,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Enter the uncle who want the girl because. She was his property. But escape slave that was beyond five years wasn't his property know longer. But where was added mystery to story.
Here are just a few examples. The hero and heroine are transported in a dream to waterfall where they meet a dragon. Neither waterfall nor dragon ever appear again. The same two characters discuss the mystery of how a broken arm was fixed and how important discovering that cause is. The cause is never discovered. Several pages of a spell book fall out and are easily and effectively destroyed but a later mage thinks the pages contain great magic and can't be destroyed. The time it will take for a journey varies between two and five days. The heroine claims to need private time and independence yet accepts an imposed permanent mind-reading relationship happily. Unexplained horror creatures appear, wreak havoc and disappear without a chase, concern about possible reappearance or background as to how they were made to appear in that place and time.
This book desperately needs a total rewrite for consistency, clarity and a good deal more amplification. Either the writer or editor seems simply not to have cared very much about this book. Really too bad.
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Fortunately I had already read Patricia Briggs' excellent Hurog stories, so I knew that this was not a pseudonym for a John Norman 'wannabe', despite the appalling cover pitch. Actually everything said is 'sort of' true - Rialla *does* dance in exactly the outfit drawn, and does carry out the athletic feat depicted (but wearing far more practical clothing!)
In a sense the same is true of the story itself. It contains many of the clichés of high fantasy, but instead of making the plot predictable, it heightens the enjoyment - just as you recognise a trope, and think you know what is going to happen next, Ms. Briggs promptly takes the storyline somewhere completely different!
So, don't be put off by the apparent cliches; instead enjoy a fast-paced adventure which is very well-written, and has Patricia Briggs' usual detailed attention to her characters' pyschology - with the villains being drawn in as much detail as the heroes.
Rialla's past as a slave is not just a nifty plot device to give her some interesting skills and land her in suitable quantities of peril; it is a traumatic experience that has shaped her personality and left her scarred, physically and mentally. The damaging effects of a slaveholding culture is not just shown through its effect on its victims; the novel portrays the damage done in warping the personality of slaveowners - a young man, who in another environment might have been a force for good, makes some utterly indefensible choices!
Although this is, as other reviewers have said, an easy read, and raises interesting ideas without being heavy-handed with them, I would hesitate to ecommend it for all ages. Patricia Briggs takes a fantastic setting, and peoples it with real people, who behave realistically. There is no fortunate last-minute escapes - Ms. Briggs' protagonist SUFFER. It is ultimately uplifting, as they come through better, and happier people, but don't expect a fluffy, sanitised world.
Why only 4 stars? I am sparing with my 5-star ratings, and this IS an early work - although by one of the best fantasy authors around! Incidentally, don't be put off by her urban fantasy novels - her high fantasy ones are quite different in style - and, in my opinion, far superior.
n.b. The cover illustration has changed since I first wrote this review. The appalling tagline seeems to have persisted, however.
There are no dragons in this book - well there is one, but it's not a significant one and it only appears on the page once, in a dream. So having got that out of the way, this is early Briggs (1995). It's the second in her Sianim books, the first being her debut book, Masques [*] which is so difficult to find that it's listed at several silly prices starting at around $135 (so I obviously haven't read it yet). However not having read the first is no problem because this is a complete standalone (apparently the two books share some side characters) in which former dancer/slave, Rialla, is asked to return to the land of her slavery on an important mission for the Spymaster of the mercenary nation of Sianim.
She's disguised as a slave to her spy-mission-partner Laeth and the big issue at first is whether she can go back to the guise of slavery and, indeed, whether, after seven years of freedom. she's ever really left slavery behind. This is heightened by the appearance of her former slave-master and his demand (unmet) that his property be returned to him. When Laeth is accused of murder and incarcerated help appears from a totally unexpected quarter, the somewhat hunky, but rather strange healer, Tris, who is rather more than he appears. He's not-quite-human for starters. With Laeth rescued and heading back to the Spymaster with the first part of the required intelligence, it's left up to Rialla and Tris to find the real killer and that, means Rialla is going to have to let herself fall into her former owner's clutches again.
Patricia Briggs has learned a lot about writing since she wrote `Steal the Dragon', but the early promise was definitely there and this is well worth reading. Rialla's internal conflict about her independence and her feelings about slavery are well done and not too heavy-handed. Tris is a decent love interest - for once a hero in a fantasy novel who does not carry weapons of any kind. Rialla is the sword-wielder of the pair, though mostly the problems are solved by brain-power rather than muscle power and by some hearty running away. Nice! But the ending - the actual consummation scene between the two protagonists - is a missed opportunity to explore the last of Rialla's relationship issues. Briggs has herself admitted that (in an online interview) but also said that - at the time - Rialla's issues had taken her right to the edge of her (then) writing ability. Happily her abilities to bring out characters and their issues and not take the easy option have developed at a great rate (see the Mercy Thompson novels for proof of that), however I'm looking forward to catching up (retrospectively) with some other early Patricia Briggs novels to see the progressive development of a huge talent.
Oh, and Steal the Dragon is a sneaky chess-like game of skill, strategy and guile which Tris is delighted to find Rialla can not only play, but can beat him at, too.
[*] Masques is scheduled for eventual re-release together with a never-before-published sequel as one volume, so hang on, don't pay $135.