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Dragon and Thief

(Dragonback #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,519 ratings  ·  251 reviews
Jack Morgan 13 has a dragon on his back - literally. The warrior K'da species are symbiotes, can only live six hours without their humanoid host. Draycos 30s is the sole survivor of the three ships destroyed scouting for their refugees, and Jack is the only possible choice. They may be an odd couple, but together they're more than the sum of their parts. They are destined ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Starscape (first published February 1st 2003)
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Clif Bergmann More along the lines of mutualism, since the symbiont acts to protect its host with abilities beyond the host's natural ability, requiring simply the …moreMore along the lines of mutualism, since the symbiont acts to protect its host with abilities beyond the host's natural ability, requiring simply the form of its host to adhere to while in its interdimensional state.(less)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Dragon and Thief blends dragons and space opera in an exciting middle grade science fictional adventure. The dragon in the title is Draycos, a warrior-poet of an alien species called the K’da, who are able to shift from a three-dimensional being to a two-dimensional tattoo that attaches to your skin, moving around your body at will. The K’da are also a symbiont species, requiring a host to attach themselves to at least every six hours, or they fa
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

Dragon and Thief is a short, scifi story based upon a really cool idea (If you – like me – think sentient, symbiotic aliens who live on your skin as tattoos, talk to you, and can turn into warrior-poet dragons is cool.), and I can see middle grade readers (the intended audience) really enjoying it. I even believe others (who might only know Timothy Zahn from his Star Wars Expanded Universe novels) will find this straightforward tale an entertaining adventure w
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
My GR friends know that I have enjoyed a number of Zahn books over the past couple of years: A bit of his Star Wars world and a lot of his other SF thrillers. This is my first venture into his young adult library. On the plus side it has all of his signature talents at world building and some of his impressive innovation as well.

This novel (which became a series) features two main characters:
Jack – a barely teenage thief and con artist who has to get by on his wit and ability to “read” those ar
Tamora Pierce
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-ya-yr
A dragon-like warrior who requires a host to live more than six hours, fleeing the massacre of his people, finds a new host and a new set of problems in teenaged Jack Morgan, who has been educated to be a thief but doesn't like the job. Jack and his con man and thief Uncle Virgil were fleeing their enemies when Uncle Virgil died. That's when Draycos, escaping the ruins of his ship and his dead host, finds Jack. Now the two of them are fleeing people who will stop at nothing to find Uncle Virgil, ...more
Attack Salmon
Jan 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, fantasy, ya
Boring and too juvenile for me. Not to mention too predictable
In terms of children's literature, this series is ancient, with this first book written in 2003. But I'm glad I picked it off the maybe-to-be-weeded shelf at my library and gave it a try, because it's quite a good science fiction/ thief heist adventure for middle-grade kids. Now I have another series to complete, thanks to a cliffhanger ending that should have been obvious to me given that this is a six-book series. This really isn't anything other than a light, fast-paced diversion, but it's we ...more
What is better than a sentient, two-dimensional life-form that lives on your skin like a tattoo and gives excellent advice? One that becomes an awesome, three-dimensional warrior-poet dragon, of course. Draycos, the K'da warrior, needs a host, and he finds one in Jack Morgan a fourteen year old reformed con man. As their unlikely friendship solidifies there are battles--in space and in person--mysteries, and con artistry all around. With an amoral, personality-filled AI rounding out the strange ...more
Sarah B
While I did enjoy the story in this book I found it to be about average. Nothing really stood out to me. It's a mix of mystery, fantasy and sci-fi. The dragon in here has the unique ability to turn itself into a tattoo on the body of it's host and if it doesn't have a host to return to, it'll die in six hours. At first this ability really confused me in the story as I was really unsure what was going on - the author described the process in a very confusing manner - but later he explained it mor ...more
Oct 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I think I read that this is suppose to be a teen series. Other than only being 250 pages, and the protagonist being 14, I don't know why that would be. Zahn rarely uses swearing and other "adult" content, so that "lack" doesn't seem to contribute either.

Regardless, I enjoyed the book. It starts a little slow, but the typical good writing of Zahn prevails, plus this has a fast, satisfying, better than you're usual Zahn ending.

There were two problems/objectives and only one of them resolves. It is
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Jack muttered a word that had once cost him a week of desserts.”

Entertaining science fiction for young readers that harks back to the early days of SF, before we got all cynical and crude. Not that our fourteen-year-old protagonist isn’t a cynic, but that’s part of the fun. Thinking smarter you know everything at that age is such a burden, and a delight to those around you.

“It is interesting, is it not, that people so often turn out to be different than we expect.” “Don’t fool yourself, kiddo.”
Dec 03, 2016 rated it liked it

The nitty-gritty: A fun and fast start to a series with spaceships, dragons and plenty of action.

I do love when publishers decide to re-release older books in order to make them available to a new audience, and when I heard about Dragon and Thief, a book originally published in 2003, I thought I’d give it a try. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read Timothy Zahn before, and this seemed like a great opportunity. Dragon and Thief is the first in the Dragonback series, and I’m assuming if this d

Kailey (Luminous Libro)
I was really surprised by this book! I was expecting your typical dragon story, but this is completely different from anything I've ever read about. It's half dragon-fantasy, part science-fiction space wars, part murder mystery, with a smattering of corporate espionage.
The writing is fast-paced and perfectly crafted. Difficult to put down once you've started reading.

Fantastic story and I loved loved the characters so much! Draycos is an especially fascinating character. Every word he says is
Stephan van Velzen
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Until this week, I was only familiar with Timothy Zahn as the best author of Star Wars' Expanded Universe. The thing I love about his Star Wars book is that they're all over the place, having multiple story lines going on at the same time, with the characters constantly traveling from one end of the galaxy to the other, and back again.

While Dragon and Thief is a fluffy, simple, and short young adult book, it has that very same charm: the two main characters travel across space, and with every po
Joe Santoro
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, soft_sf
I had no idea Timothy Zahn had ever written anything young adult, and fantasy, too? I was thrilled when I noticed!

As it turns out, it's not fantasy, but space opera, but it's still quite a good one. Jack Morgan was raised by his crooked Uncle, who was a safe cracker and thief, but who died and left Jack a legacy of being framed for a crime he didn't commit. Trying to go straight, Jack and the AI of his Uncle that runs his small freighter stumble upon a fire fight... it turns out the K'da, a symb
Jean Petrillo
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The first in the series of 6 books by Timothy Zahn, this middle school level science fiction book is awesome!
The story takes place in outer space with adventures, intrigue, suspense and space wars! Jack Morgan is the young orphan who has to use all the wits and experience he has gained in his young life to survive an interstellar frame-up. He witnesses a space fight and in the wreckage, he finds no survivors, he thinks. But he becomes the host for the only survivor, Draycos, a K' da warrior. The
Snarktastic Sonja
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It reminds me a bit of the Dragonriders of Pern. The dragon here is a symbiote, not a love interest. A comrade, not a perfect male specimen. It's a nice change!

The tale begins with a whole lot of destruction and desolation, which almost just put me off and set the book aside. Combine this with the 14 year old age of the protagonist, and I had a bit of a struggle getting into this story. But once it got moving, it really drew me in.

It seems silly in a book like this, but ther
Logan ReidReynoso
Nov 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
Good book, obviously a children's novel but pretty fun main characters and mix of short-term and long-term conflicts. I liked the character development for the main characters that was caused by their more internal conflicts they are fighting about while they are working together on their external conflicts. ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoy dragon books, but I never expected it to be in science fiction. I thought this interesting. The beginning starts out bland, but as I read on, it became more and more in-depth and detailed, therefore making it a better read.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great for young readers and for more advanced readers looking for a nice quick sci-fi dragon experience!
Feb 01, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Fun a very enjoyable read.
Scott Spotson
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
The concept was pretty cool. I also liked how Jack, although introduced as a fourteen-year-old, gradually reveals himself to be wiser beyond his years. I also enjoyed finding out who Uncle Virgil really was.

In my opinion, the book slowed down once Jack got captured and after his "magic" demonstration. It also seemed to stretch belief that Jack could, by then, find himself in a position of galaxial (is that a word?) importance.

The Boy With The Dragon Tattoo...that can fight and compose poetry

Sometimes, an author comes up with a simple but attractive idea that's so ingenious in its design, that I wonder why I haven't seen this idea before in other things.

In this case, it's the idea of a draconian alien of human intelligence and the capacity for mild deadpan snark that can convert itself into a tattoo on a host body and therefore turn from a three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional object. A portable companion th
Tobias Halpern
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a great start to a great series. 13-year-old jack morgan, a thief, must make a choice. Save an entire race from annihilation, or continue as normal. With the aid of Draycos, a Poet-Warrior of the Kda, They embark on an epic adventure throughout which you will find yourself unable to stop reading. I highly recommend this book if you are into sci-fi, action, adventure, or mystery. Definitely a must-read. This book is 266 pages long.
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread-worthy
When I found Dragon and Thief on goodreads, I saved it to my to-read list simply because it had "dragon" and "thief" in the title. I was winding down on my "thief" streak, and ready for a new binge - which turned out to be "dragon"s. (I am slightly obsessive with certain trends until their hold on me weakens; then, unless they are very good, I forget about them until years later).

The Dragonback series was the most fabulous start to any streak I have ever had.

What's really good about the Dragon
Jessica Harmon
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fantasy
I picked this book because I needed my "dragon" spot filled on the reading bingo. I asked a friend which dragon book I should read and she said this one. You could make a case that Draycos is not really a dragon because he’s an alien. But it’s in the title! And Jack calls him a dragon more than once. Draycos is a symbiotic alien, he can’t live apart from his host for more than a few hours. But he will help and defend that host using all of his skill as a warrior. He can also got through walls us ...more
I absolutely loved this book when I first read it at 14. The series as a whole is surprisingly touching, and even though the books each relate a separate adventure, it combines into a whole very well. The plot is exciting and takes a lot of interesting, clever twists. Unlike a lot of YA fiction, the dialogue is engaging and not at all shallow. Especially in the later books of the series, Zahn does an excellent job of foreshadowing without really giving the truth away to his readers, so despite t ...more
An EyeYii
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fan, fantasy
Title's "Thief" is legally under-age minor Jack Morgan 13, on the run with spaceship and Uncle Virgil - or Virge? - falsely accused of theft by megacorp Braxton Universis. Titular "Dragon" is K'da warrior Draycos 30ish, whose species cannot survive more than six hours from symbiotic conversion to 2D skin coating over back of host. To survive, Draycos must hop on Jack, first ever human host. The same hissing voice directs the destruction of Draycos' three refugee scoutships, supposed to confirm s ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun light read that was more about action than plot or character. The second half of the book was better than the first, and it kept me reading. However, I would have preferred a little more depth. There was also so little description of the setting, that the book could have taken place on an incredibly alien world or the planet Earth, I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. The aliens were just as bland save for Draycos. However, I might continue with the series in the future if I'm ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I saw it on the library sale shelf and after reading the back, snatched it right up and I was not disappointed! It grabbed me right from the start and I sat here and stayed up all night to finish it. Tempted to skip sleep entirely so I can start on volume two lol

Draycos' character and how he needs Jack to survive and the way the symbiosis works between the two, was fascinating. I loved the plot, barely left me a minute to catch my breath, but the intrigue didn't go overboard,
Benjamin Espen
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dragonback series is a what they now call a YA [Young Adult] series, but I still like the older designation of a juvenile novel, since I grew up with it, and also because a lot of what is branded as YA seems like utter crap. Here is what Jerry Pournelle had to say in 2011 about juveniles:

I followed Robert Heinlein’s rules on ‘juveniles’ when I wrote it: no sex scenes, and as Robert used to say, a juvenile has young protagonists and you can put in more science and explanations of what’s going
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Timothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he bec ...more

Other books in the series

Dragonback (6 books)
  • Dragon and Soldier (Dragonback, #2)
  • Dragon and Slave (Dragonback, #3)
  • Dragon and Herdsman (Dragonback, #4)
  • Dragon and Judge (Dragonback, #5)
  • Dragon and Liberator (Dragonback, #6)

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