Redheart is book one of the Leland Dragon Series. Leland is the province where Kallon Redheart, a red dragon, resides. The province is in a drought and tensions between dragons and humans are at an all time high. Fordon Blackclaw, the Dragon Council Leader, is using the tensions to further his personal ambitions. This is the cauldron that a young woman named Riza finds herself embroiled in when she flees a life of mundane existence.
Riza Diantus epitomizes or perhaps symbolizes the plight of the woman in un-enlightened cultures. Equal opportunity often seems to be a cliché not realized in our tumultuous economic environment of today let alone in a rural agriculture set in a medieval style setting.
Riza questions all, not just those in authority — she questions everyone. Her lust for answers and her refusal to be bound by a rigid role proscribed by her agrarian life makes her a heroine in my estimation. She refuses to accept the role of victim and fights for what she wants and what she feels is right.
Jastin, the dragon hunter, is on a quest of vengeance. He is conflicted regarding his feelings for Riza. He perceives himself as a merciless mercenary but is surprised when Riza touches feelings he thought long abandoned.
Kallon, too, is far more than a cardboard cutout of a dragon. He deals with feelings of alienation and inadequacy. Kallon’s struggles with his fears and his relationship with Riza, Jastin and the wizard, Orman, become entwined with Blackclaw the Dragon Council leader.
Gamber has created loveable and despicable characters. She imbues them with real feelings, emotions and frustrations. Jackie Gamber brings alive dragons and adventure with colorful, involved storytelling. The intricate details of a Stephen Zimmer or Tolkien are not here, but the warm characters and very believable emotions produce a book that will be remembered and cherished.
I highly recommend the book and look fervently for a sequel.