I can’t actually remember if I was the one who bought The Last Dragonlord or if it was my mom. Either way, it was back around 1999 or so when I was first enfolded into Joanne Bertin’s world. There’s a quote on the book from Judith Tarr about it being “a new take on dragons” and I really haven’t read another series quite like it.
In this world, we have truehumans, truedragons, and Dragonlords. The last are weredragons, possessing a human soul and a dragon soul living together in a single body. The humans have no idea of what they truly are until their momentous First Change, at which point they can access their dragon form. They also become immune to all fire but dragonfire, stronger, faster, with sharper senses, and possess a bit of magic including telepathy with other similarly gifted individuals.
The title character of The Last Dragonlord is Linden Rathan. Linden is the name of the humansoul, and Rathan the dragonsoul. The latter, like all dragonsouls, is asleep for the most part and will only come into his own when Linden chooses to let his own soul pass on into death. He’s so known not because it’s been more than six hundred years since his own First Change (and he is the youngest of the Dragonlords) but because the truedragons have not sensed the birth of any new Dragonlords since his own.
He’s also without a soultwin. You see, when you have this mess of unborn souls floating around, a humansoul and a dragonsoul become combined. But no one body needs two complete souls, and the combined soul splits in two, to be born into two different bodies. Soultwins are, quite literally, the other halves of each others’ souls.
But all of this is just background information on the world and the type of dragons we’re spending our time with. The story itself starts when Linden is chosen to be a judge for a regency debate along with two other Dragonlords. They all live apart from the world at Dragonskeep, and their duty to truehumans is as peacekeepers and mediators. So when there’s some question as to which of the young prince’s uncles should become his regent, the Cassorin Council opts to have a third party decide. Regency debates are boring affairs, enough so that one almost wishes for some excitement…
I have always loved The Last Dragonlord, and am always happy to reread it. Joanne Bertin is very skilled at guiding readers through her world, not answering questions too early or too late, and of planting seeds that will bloom in later chapters…or books! Her writing style is easy for me to immerse myself in, and her world is well-constructed and unique, while not being too alien to follow. It’s not the most extensive series by far, but I think it well worth reading.