Pit Dragon Chronicles #1. Author: Jane Yolen.
Jakkin is a bondboy, a situation similar to indentured servants of old – right now he’s basically a slave, but he’s paying off his debt piece by piece. But the quickest way to make enough gold to do that is by stealing a dragon egg from the nursery where he works and raising it to fight in the rings. If Jakkin wants his freedom he’s going to have to steal a dragon egg, hide and feed it, bond to it, and train it to fight – all without being discovered.
Well, the tone was strange. I believe it’s considered both ya and middle grade, but the constant references to prostitutes seem out-of-place for such an age range. I liked the concept of dragons bred and trained to fight in ring-fights: not one I’ve seen before, but quite logical. But I really hope Jakkin is going to get his come-uppance from Akki, because the attitude towards girls is quite strange – the final scene where Jakkin determines to ‘master Akki’ threw me off more than anything else in the book. Since Akki is determinedly independent, I can see this going different directions, but… it was strange.
Sexual content: MC works with the stud dragons – speaks of ‘rutting season’ and their ‘frantic, spiraling courtship flight’. Some of the boys spend their coins at the local baggery, where girls ‘wait to be filled like empty coin-bags’. Speaking of the bad times in her past, woman says “Listen, boy, I had years enough of mindlessness in the baggeries. Where boys like you try to become men in one slippery, sweaty night.” One kiss.
Language: 5 d***, some made-up words
Violence: Dragon accidentally steps on a boy and knocks him out. Man shoots the dragon, then kicks it multiple times as it dies. Men fight drakes, a predator, and end up killing it. Ritualized fighting in the rings.
Other: There’re a couple people who are addicted to a made-up drug. (This is not portrayed as a good thing.)