For Promise Yet Unbroken
Welcome to Noman, a planet colonized by humans, settled as an Old West series of towns, and overrun with dragons. Yeah, I wasn’t sure where the author was going with this either. But, as we’ve seen before, space cowboys are pretty interesting characters, and so I was willing to give it a go. I’m glad I did. Not only did I get my space cowboys, I got a coming-of-age story with shapeshifting dragons. And it actually made sense.
Jeremey Jasper is a pretty miserable guy. His parents were killed by a rycha, a wild beast on Noman that is easily the most dangerous of the myriad of dangerous creatures that make the planet their home. After the death of his parents, he was sent to some relatives in another town, and turned from the mischievous Tom Sawyer-like kid he was into the quiet, somber lad he is now. But today, as our story opens, is an important day. Today, Jeremey is going to become a dragon rider.
Of course, first he has to get a dragon, go through training, deal with his new co-workers – who are unhappy both that he is there and that their dragons follow his – and figure out what exactly his place is. But he has his dragon named Promise as a physical reminder of the promise he made to his parents, to protect others as he was unable to protect them. And then he sees a couple of crashing spaceships and stumbles across a conspiracy and galactic war, something he wants to bring to an end. Jeremey and Promise leave Noman to pursue this aim, and he also finds out the secret of the dragon, something kept from the human settlers for years; not only are they intelligent creatures, they are a race of shapeshifters.
Jeremey made a brief appearance in the first book of the series, In the Hours of Darkness, and I was looking forward to reading more about him and the dragons. I wasn’t disappointed. Jeremey and Promise make a great team, both before and after Jeremey finds out the secret of the dragons. When Jeremey meets Lieutenant Harry Alonzo Longbaugh, one of the soldiers from the crashed ship, he starts to get a view of the universe outside his home planet, and it’s pretty fascinating. And complicated. So very, very complicated. Apparently, since Noman has basically been off the grid, the Galactic Federation has been at war with the Vek, a militaristic, alien race. There is something on Noman, however, that their bodies can’t handle, and the dragons suspect the secret lies with them. Which is how Jeremey finds himself on the capital planet of the Federation with offers of military backing and a future home.
The most interesting part of the story is watching Jeremey mature and come into his own. His relationship with Promise is so fulfilling for both of them. They fit the dragon’s definition of heart-partners – best friends, lovers, confidents, everything. That perfect person who just fits with you. And it’s lovely to watch Jeremey grow into that.
Now, this isn’t to say I didn’t have any issues with the book. I am still unsure exactly how old Jeremey is supposed to be. The initial impression is of him as a teenager, so I’m guessing he is at least sixteen, but I’m not sure, as his reactions at times seem very…young to me. And underage relationships are not my cup of tea. There are also some moments later on that are surprisingly slapstick-like in the middle of battle scenes. I’m all for humor, but something about this just felt out of place, especially in a series of fight scenes that are really well done.
There is a lot going on here, but honestly? It works. Of course, it helps if you read the short novella In the Hours of Darkness first. The reader gets a bit of a rundown on the planet and the dragons, which becomes a really good base for this second book to build on – without it, I can see how this would start out a little confusing. But overall, I’d say this series looks to be another interesting addition to M/M romance and M/M science fiction in particular.