‘Havemercy,’ by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett, is probably one of my all time favorite books. It follows four main characters, Royston, Rook, Hal, and Thom, and each successive chapter is written in first person from one of their viewpoints. Rook is a member of the Dragon Corp, a group of men who ride dragons, formed of machinery and magic, to defend their country in a long war. Thom is a teacher, assigned to teach the men of the Dragon Corps about etiquette and manners. Royston is a magician, exiled after an embarrassing affair with a foreign prince. He meets Hal, a young man preparing to become a tutor, at his brother’s estate.
Havemercy is Rook’s dragon, and since her name is used as the title of the book, you’d think the story would be all about her and the other dragons. There is quite a bit in there about Havemercy and her fellow dragons, the war, and political agendas, all of which serve to create an interesting and intense plot. But I feel the book focuses more on the bonds between the characters, and how they all react to the situations they find themselves in. And the story is so very beautiful and absorbing because of this. I felt like I knew and loved every single one of the characters, even minor characters. How the men of the corps live together with each other and their dragons is fascinating. The unfolding antagonism between Thom and the corps, especially Rook, is enthralling. And the love story between Royston and Hal is very tense and super satisfying. At the end of the book, all of these elements come together to create a story that means something really special. The whole time I was reading, I felt so attached to the book and the people in it. Even after finishing it, I still feel attached to these people, like I know them.
In the year after I first discovered this book, I read it all the way through three times. Now, aside from occassionally rereading the whole thing, sometimes I pick it up and read pieces of it, whenever I feel like I need to read something that’s just really good. -SEL