SONG OF THE BEAST is a standalone novel and SFR.
Aidan MacAllister is a singer and musician who, at the beginning of the book, is released from prison after seventeen years. He was never quite certain why he was imprisoned, but he'd been told if he remained silent for seven years, he would be freed. He began that silence after ten years of defiance, when he believed he could no longer hear the voice of the god who spoke to him.
His voice scratchy, his hands and back ruined from the way he was treated, Aidan sets out to find a place for himself. Although he does wonder about what happened to him -- he knows it has something to do with the dragons and their riders -- he is more concerned about not bringing attention to himself; he does not want to be recaptured. And there are still people after him.
Aidan is also cousin to the king.
The story is written in first person, mostly from Aidan's viewpoint, but with a few others thrown in (also in first person). The dragons here are not the friendly beasts of Pern, and it takes a while to discover all the ins and outs of their existences. They are necessary to the kingdom to keep order; years ago the kingdom was in complete chaos until the dragons were put to use.
Lara is the daughter of a family of dragon riders. When she was a child, she discovered the truth about her place in her clan. She and her brother were raised together, and she learned much of what he did, until it came time to learn about the dragons. Women do not ride dragons. So she stole a stone that was used to control the dragons, and, a few years later, she stole one of the dragons. She was badly injured during that flight, and she was rescued by the race which also contacted Aidan and eventually came to his rescue.
Aidan had been fascinated by dragons, and thought he could hear something in their voices as they bellowed. His singing had possibly even upset them.
The story is built around the question of the true nature of the dragons, and how they came to be in the position they were in. I thought it was an original treatment of something that seems in many ways to be familiar. The bonds between dragon rider and dragon are not the kind that we've seen from Anne McCaffrey or Mercedes Lackey (well, not dragons in that case).
And everything Lara thinks she knows is contradicted by what Aidan is coming to believe, so we've got some serious conflict there.
Although I'm not always keen on first person -- and when Lara took over the story for a while, I kept wanting Aidan back -- I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I'm not sure if I loved it as much as her first book, possibly because that was in third person and introduced me to a new author, but I definitely recommend this one.--Lori (11 May 03)
I enjoyed the story, but the romance (such as there was) was lackluster in the extreme. BTW, I've only read the first book in her trilogy -- and enjoyed it -- what's the verdict on the entire trilogy? I've got the books, but haven't pushed myself to invest the time & effort into them yet.--JW (25 Jul 03)