Created by a misuse of magic in a shaman's war, were-dragons mediate between the five "truehuman" kingdoms and between truedragons and truehumans as well. In The Last Dragonlord, Bertin told of Linden Rathen, who spent 600 years without a "soultwin." (Each Dragonlord is made from two souls--one human, one dragon--so for each there is a match created from the "extra" halves.) He found his soultwin, Maurynna. In Dragon and Phoenix, the second book in the Dragonlords series, Maurynna's draconic half, Kyrissaean, won't speak to other Dragonlords or even another dragonsoul, and won't let her Change, which would give her the greater magics of the Dragonlords--healing fire and flying.
Linden and Maurynna are at Dragonskeep when Maurynna's great-uncle, the bard Otter, and her cousin Raven arrive with a man who claims he escaped from Jehanglan, a kingdom resembling Imperial China. There they have imprisoned a truedragon, using his magic to hold a phoenix captive. The phoenix provides magical power protecting Jehanglan and maintaining the Emperor's rule at the price of agony and madness for the dragon. The Dragonlords plan a daring rescue. The plan hinges on Maurynna, for her "hidden" dragon half will enable her to elude the priest-mages yet destroy the magical wards binding him.Bertin shifts between Maurynna's story and that of Shei-Luin, a barbarian concubine of the Phoenix Emperor who is scheming to gain power and protect her sons.
Bertin delivers a colorful setting, engaging characters, complex plotting, and an intriguing magical system. Fans of Anne McCaffrey's Pern stories and fantasies using Oriental elements like Barry Hughart's Master Li novels will find plenty here to enjoy. --Nona Vero