As much as I like The Last Dragonlord, I love Dragon and Phoenix far more. Maybe it’s because I really don’t like deliberate deception on the part of protagonists against other protagonists (the “liar revealed” plot), maybe it’s because I am fascinated by Asian culture. Maybe it’s just a stronger book on the whole.
Regardless, I’m always a bit sad when I finish reading it because there are so many intriguing plots and moving parts. We have a good example of Joanne Bertin’s ability to foreshadow: in the previous book, Maurynna received a werguild which included a carved box. It was Jehangli work, containing peppercorns from that fabled land of the Phoenix. Now, in Dragon and Phoenix, Maurynna and friends must make their way to Jehanglan on behalf of a dragon. After all, Dragonlords are the mediators between truedragon and truehuman.
Jehanglan, from what I can tell, contains elements of multiple Asian cultures. I can recognize Japanese origami, the Chinese Forbidden City, and Mongol horsemen in particular. I’m sure that there’s a lot more going over my head since I’ll be the first to admit I’m no expert.
It’s also worth noting that, aside from the prologue, the events in Dragon and Phoenix take place over the course of about a year, maybe less. If I’m analyzing the timeline correctly, we’re actually working on two separate timelines overall within that year, but because the story flows so smoothly as we switch from one group to another that it’s easy to overlook. Especially because it isn’t until late in the book that our different groups begin to converge, at which point everyone is on the same timeline.
I’ll note that at the back of The Last Dragonlord is a preview for Dragon and Phoenix, but the second book didn’t continue that trend. The short biography did say the author was working on book three, Bard’s Oath, and attempting to assemble a harp, but nothing more. Little did I know…