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Jakkin risks everything -- freedom, dragon Heart's Blood, even his life -- to rescue beloved Akki who vanished months ago in rebel cell on former prison planet Austar IV. He must become rebel spy Three for mysterious Senator Golden and carry an explosive satchel to the dragon pits. In this game he will lose no matter how well he plays.

354 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 1984

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About the author

Jane Yolen

884 books2,872 followers
Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Born and raised in New York City, the mother of three and the grandmother of six, Yolen lives in Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 148 reviews
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
710 reviews1,147 followers
September 16, 2020
Bah!! I'm not sure what I'm going to rate this. I liked it, I didn't get it, great prose, the ending was shit, the author dropped a bomb that makes me want to pick up the next one. It's all over the place. Reviewing is hard.

[Edit: I eventually picked up the next one and ended up donating the series in disappointment. Nothing about the trajectory of the story worked for me. I’d recommend just the first book then moving on with life from there.]
Profile Image for K.
1,076 reviews12 followers
November 20, 2018
Let me be first be petty & complain about the cover art. ...Actually, it's indicative of the level of skill inside the book.

First, that woman does NOT want to be there. If the male model looked this smug & ugly, I wouldn't want to be pressed against him, either. She's here, she's going to get paid, then she's leaving. She doesn't have to be *happy.*
Second, this art work screams "I have no idea how to draw hands or feet!!" ...or lower torsos. There is definitely something wrong with her hips & his butt.


Let's take a larger view of the cover. After the people, what's the prominent feature? The dragon! It's a book about dragons! Who fight! So let's center the dragons.....ass?...in the middle of our cover? Seriously...the head is teeny tiny, on the end of an impossibly long neck, and almost off the edge of the cover. This is a horrible composition.


The first book established the very basics about the (sexist) world & the 'hero' gets his dragon. So what do you do in the second book? That's right, you have more stories about dragons! Oh, no...I'm sorry. You get him involved in politics! He runs around ineptly trying to save the girl, who has become a spy within a rebel cell. They get framed for a horrible explosion & end up on the run from the rebels, the local police/government/ruling class, and maybe even the galactic government. It starts getting complicated on which group wants what & I didn't care about any of the characters enough to try to really sort it out. What would normally be shocking in another book , I didn't care.

Yolen DOES have good books out there. I've read them & loved them. This series sadly isn't one of them. I told my daughter to skip these.
Profile Image for Jacob.
879 reviews48 followers
August 27, 2016
Okay, I remember this plot even less than the first one! That's why I go back and reread childhood favorites, I guess ;) It's still quite good. The main character, Jakkin, grows up some, and much of the advice he gets on how to operate in the adult world resonates with me, so I feel I must have absorbed and adopted it myself.

One of Yolen's strengths is that she illustrates the scenes with enough detail of the right kind that you feel like you really are there experiencing it. Her characters are very believable as young teens and the relationships also ring true. The heartbreaking sacrifice towards the end is compensated by an amazing development, even if that makes this mid-trilogy entry not stand on its own.
Profile Image for Kaila.
798 reviews97 followers
February 5, 2019
I didn't find this one nearly as charming as the first. Jakkin is involved in politics in this installment, and boy do we know it, as he complains about it constantly. Not very much fun to read. I thought the first 1/3 fine and the last 2/3s dragged.

The author made choices at the end about who lives and who dies and I must say, I am surprised. It can be so hard to kill off characters.
Profile Image for Kayla.
21 reviews6 followers
January 12, 2022
I really enjoyed the rescue Akki mission and the on the run parts of the story. The only thing that disappointed me was them killing Hearts Blood at at the end of the book I cried when I read that part and I am one to not cry normally when reading. To me that felt more like the end of the series and there is still one book left so now I am wondering how that will go with Hearts Blood now gone
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Christine.
45 reviews1 follower
March 15, 2019
This story was rather disappointing. Possibly I would have been into it if I'd known about it back in middle school when I kept re-reading Dragon's Blood, but as an adult, I couldn't see past the mess.

Akki remains utterly undeveloped. We get two new named female character, but Dr. Henkky and Akki never speak, and the other two female characters (Kkarina and someone whose name I've forgotten, as she's only in one scene) speak only about men to one another, so another Bechdel fail. (I should possibly note that at the end of Dragon's Blood, it's revealed that Jakkin's dragon is a female, so one could argue Heart's Blood and Akki communicating would push it to passing, but dragons communicate via telepathic colors that humans interpret the meaning of, I do not think this counts.)

There is a hot mess of political intrigue that would make the basis of a solid, fat YA novel of the 00s or 10s, but the book is only 200 pages long. Some things resolve far too quickly and very little is clearly explained. I'm still not sure what the rebels want and how it differs from what the anti-Federation Austarians want, or what the pro-Federation Austarians want. The rebels are painted wholly unsympathetically and we are told they are evil more than we are shown they are. There's a weird obsession with violence being "in the blood" because most of the planet is descended from convicts, but the allegedly worst, most violent character, you find out in either this book or the next, has no convict ancestors (which makes him the descendant of the prison guards, so I suppose by the logic of violence in the blood being passed down, it would make sense he would be singularly cruel).

The end is horrifically depressing, as Heart's Blood sacrifices herself to save Jakkin and Akki, which is pretty dark for a kids book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
November 7, 2017
It was pretty boring and slow before the goal of the book completely changed and it just got confusing. Things went from dragon fights to saving Akki from rebels to running from the government.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michele.
161 reviews
June 11, 2009
I would have given this 2 1/2 stars. Heart's Blood continues the story of Dragon's Blood. Here the story becomes involved in the politics of the planet, and Jakkin's relationship with his dragon and Akki develops. Although still imaginative, I found the story a bit clumsy and the dialogue often choppy, or out of character. I found myself thinking, 'would he really have said all that or that way?'Also, I did not like many of the plot choices. I did not like the ending which was too abrupt and rather unbelievable.

It is still worth the read, but disappointing to me.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,930 reviews
April 21, 2019
I like this series (Dragons? Yay!). These dragons aren't as telepathic as those in Anne McCaffrey's Pern series; their thoughts are more pictures and feelings than speech, but they do communicate, after a fashion, with their Trainers. Mix in a little inter-Galactic politics and rebellion, and you have fuel for some great storylines.

There were some errors in my Kindle text, listed here: p. 6, Jakkin won dered / wondered ; p. 9, Oh for God's sake / Oh, for ; p. 15, She houghed once and (Every dictionary I found had "hough" as a verb meaning "to hamstring." Obviously this is not the author's intent. I think she was trying for a sound halfway between a huff and a cough; maybe it would be better just to stick with "huff," which is a recognizable sound, and not confusing.) / She HUFFED once ; p. 15, superheated room the eggs / room, the eggs ; p. 15, Until that time he would / time, he would ; p. 19, As a freeman Jakkin no longer / freeman, Jakkin no ; p. 20, was with ' Errikkin / with Errikkin ; p. 21, At his arrival Errikkin jumped / arrival, Errikkin jumped ;

P. 23, they chanted loud enough / chanted, loud enough ; p. 37, Sarkkhan houghed through his nose / huffed through ; p. 38, better than that The Federation / better than that. The Federation (periods were often omitted) ; p. 48, If so, I need, you / I need you (unnecessary comma) ; p. 55, She houghed continuously / huffed continuously ; p. 56, his agitation she couldn't / his agitation, she couldn't ; p. 72, Oh thou amazing / Oh, thou amazing ; p. 89, The Angers of his left hand / The FINGERS of his left hand ; p. 102, old days only the / old days, only the ; p. 116, may need, to get her / may need to get her (no comma needed) ; p. 123, of the fight he could ; fight, he could ; p. 123, final bell Mo flowed / bell, Mo flowed ; p. 124, of the lock but led / of the lock, but led ;

P. 145, may not like the. bond system / the bond system (remove period following the) ; p. 153, Here a bandage will / Here, a bandage ; p. 154, Unfortunately politics plays / Unfortunately, politics ; p. 155, Sarkkhan was thinking Jakkin didn't / thinking, Jakkin didn't ; p. 157, In that scent a young / In that SCENE a young ; p. 161, Likkarn houghed at him / huffed at him ; p. 164, I have it Luck is / I have it. Luck is (add period) ; p. 164, In training sessions dragons always / sessions, dragons always ; p. 165, at the slender, flexible sucks / flexible STICKS (from context, I suspect this is what the author meant) ; p. 182, Beside him Sarkkhan was / Beside him, Sarkkhan was ; p. 182, Next to Jakkin a man / Next to Jakkin, a man ; p. 192, Not even a grave coin. / a grave coin? ;

P. 192, a sudden Hurry of knocks / sudden hurry of knocks ; p. 198, about Jakkin's age' whose bonder / Jakkin's age, whose ; p. 198, lost weight Her hair / lost weight. Her hair (add period) ; p. 199, asked,. "Where's / asked, "Where's (remove period after comma) ; p. 200, insinuating him self into / insinuating himself into ; p. 202, Afterward we'll all / Afterward, we'll ; p. 224, no one's boast I believe the steward / boast. I believe (add period) ; p. 227, a warning hough ; a warning huff ; p. 227, Imake the / I make the ; p. 229, this fight We can / this fight. We can (add period) ; p. 242, Not much of a message really / a message, really ; p. 245, sitting on the nedge of the world / on the EDGE of the ; p. 248, better than that If he'd thought / than that. If he'd (add period) ;

P. 248, that comfort She turned / that comfort. She turned (add period) ; p. 250, her voice right / her voice TIGHT ; p. 267, Past the first fields they had to / first fields, they had ; p. 271, book without a tide / book without a TITLE ; p. 286, over to the cliffs edge / the cliff's edge ; p. 288, In Jakkin's mind Heart's Blood / mind, Heart's Blood ; p. 289, how many Angers I'm / how many FINGERS I'm ; p. 290, dust of a . truck / dust of a truck (remove dot/period) ; p. 290, his desperate cry the dragon / cry, the dragon ; p. 292, they're hatch ing / they're hatching ; p. 298, In their minds you two / their minds, you two ; p. 298, to try and argue / try TO argue ; p. 302, down the hill sliding on / the hill, sliding on ; p. 304, in regular, dive, so he / regular dive, so he (remove extra comma) ;

P. 305, possible moment Heart's / moment, Heart's ; p. 305, Too late the male / Too late, the male ; p. 305, so far above her he could / above her, he could ; p. 314, going to rest But we can't / to rest. But we (add period) ; p. 314, Between us we can / Between us, we can ; p. 316, first time they could / first time, they could ; p. 324, an offworlder he'd have to / an offworlder, he'd have to ; p. 324, right flank one of the / right flank, one of the ; p. 327, color by color red, orange / color by color: red, orange (add colon before list) ; p. 328, heavy weight Someone was slapping / heavy weight. Someone was (add period) ; p. 330, possibly use for shel ter? / use for shelter? ;

P. 344, into the basket Before she / into the basket. Before she (add period) ; p. 344, about it It was / about it. It was (add period) ; p. 349, to try and eat it / to try TO eat it .
Profile Image for Claudine.
153 reviews
June 11, 2018
This should have been about political intrigue and rebellion and spying, but instead is about dumb teenagers who don't understand what they're doing and who don't care about the larger picture doing impulsive and stupid things without considering the consequences.

On one hand, they're teenagers, so at least their characterization is realistic and understandable.

But on the other hand... Jakkin's childishness seems petty, his ignorance less a product of his upbringing and more a lack of concern about people other than himself. And of course, the whole... contrived circumstances of the novel seem to be outside forces manipulating Jakkin into... doing something? That part is left pretty vague.

Once again the lack of worldbuilding means the story seems to fail as a whole. We get barely a glimpse of some political upheaval, because suddenly there is some sort of explosion and they're on the run from what may or may not be the law, if there is in fact a "law". So. The plot feels overly contrived, the characters one-dimensional, the deaths cheap and melodramatic. And after stumbling towards the novel's climax, the final confrontation is... underwhelming, and the ending itself is both disappointing and anticlimactic.

Honestly I can't tell if this novel is supposed to be sci-fi or fantasy, and it seems like the author couldn't tell either. Also, there's even more misogyny and harping on about the fundamental difference between a "boy" and a "man" and Jakkin constantly questioning his own manhood. It doesn't read like a coming of age story, it reads like a sad exploration of toxic masculinity created by someone who thought they were writing a coming of age story.
7 reviews
November 2, 2018
¨Hearts Blood¨ by Jane Yolen was definitely not as good as the first. was like how it gets into the planets politics more and sorta keeps hearts blood in the book but it is very anti-climatic in different ways. It was a story that sorta kept tripping over its self and had a horrible ending that ended very quickly. I also dislike some of the choices for the books plot which made the story choppy and skeptical. One thing i liked about this book for certain though is how they include star ships, guns, and different planets with life. My favorite character is still hearts blood because of the first book. my least favorite character was senator golden because of his sketchy personage. all in all i would not suggest this to a friend.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kira.
96 reviews
January 11, 2019
This is the second of four books in Yolen's Pit Dragon Trilogy. It continues where the previous book left off. Last time, Jakkin had pretty narrow concerns; survive, get a dragon, get out of bond. Now he's starting to learn that the wider world is relevant to his life. I still can't tell if Yolen's depiction of prostitution is progressive or regressive, partly because sex is only ever brought up as innuendo. On the one hand, there's no stigma associated with working at a "baggery" (where attractive women fill their bond bag with gold by trading their services), but on the other hand there's no hint of men doing the same job, of women buying the services of "bag girls", or of anything LGBTQ existing in the universe.

I would recommend it to: people who read the first one.
Profile Image for Misti.
778 reviews5 followers
November 7, 2017
Jakkin's dragon, Heart's Blood, is now a champion of several small fights in the pits, but is taking time off for breeding. Unexpectedly, Jakkin gets word that his friend Akki is in trouble and needs his help. Jakkin longs to set off immediately for the city, where Akki has gotten involved in rebel activity -- but there are the hatchlings to consider...

This continues the story started in Dragon's Blood, and expands into the politics of Jakkin's home planet. It's a pretty quick read, but of course, it is not the end of the series, so in some ways it serves as a bridge to the events of the next book.
Profile Image for Keri Sparks.
Author 4 books34 followers
July 4, 2018
I don't know how to rate or review this book. There was nothing really bad about it save for the ending seemed pretty abrupt and.....idk, just sudden I guess. Honestly, I don't know how I feel about Heart's Blood. It was written well, but in a sense, I feel as if I have no idea what the purpose of the story was. I don't know. As I said, I finished this book and can't figure out how I feel about it. My true rating on it is more of a 3.5 stars.

I likely won't read any of the others in this series. The story didn't grab me enough to care, but it was well-written and I did enjoy the read.....I think.
Profile Image for Krystl Louwagie.
1,322 reviews14 followers
April 28, 2020
I read this as a middle-schooler I think so it was weird connecting what I remembered from then (not much) to what I experienced this time around. I think it's probably perfect for the age it was written for, since I was an avid reader and loved them. But as an adult, momentous things seemed to happen too easily and too fast, so that the didn't have the weight attached to them that I felt like they *should*. The ending was very weird. And, intriguing. I actually do want to read the next book, because of the strange direction it was heading (again, I read it when I was younger but I remember *very little*).
100 reviews
June 22, 2020
I enjoyed the introduction of the political element, though it was so simplistic - and the conclusion undermines it so effectively - I'm not sure it was worth it. The end was not what I expected at all, which I have mixed feelings about. I feel like it pulled the rug out from under my feet, changing the thrust of the story altogether. It will be interesting to see if the other books make that shift worth it.

The most frustrating element was Akki's shift from a smart, capable young woman to a helpless maiden-in-distress. She suddenly seems incapable of any decision and completely reliant on Jakkin, who should be far more clueless in the situations in this book than she is.
Profile Image for Volkert.
856 reviews14 followers
May 22, 2017
Sequel to Dragon's Blood, which I recently had to scan for offensive material at the request of a parent. Some situations are not appropriate for elementary--the Baggeries, their name of houses of ill repute are seen as an acceptable place of occupation for young girls. This is actually an incidental part in son otherwise entertaining fantasy world involving Jakkin, a young dragon trainer who seeks his lost love in the city of Rokk, where she is working underground with the rebel forces.
Profile Image for S.M..
Author 4 books18 followers
February 12, 2018
This second book was better than the first, but good grief, the ending was weird. Interesting and sort of artsy, but weird.

Heart's Blood addressed some of the bad stuff inherent to the fictional world--the class system, indentured servitude, etc., but also didn't address the casual acceptance of plenty of other bad stuff. (Eugenics, etc.) And dear effing god, the sexism burned all the way through. It was absolutely ridiculous.
89 reviews1 follower
March 5, 2019
Similarly to McAffrey, Yolen pushes the question of freedom, commitment, and sacrifice within a self-contained world that is as hampered by it's natural brutality, (Dark After, never after, is an oft repreated phrase talking about the dangers of being caught outside in the freezing cold) and the violent history of a prisoner colony trying to grow towards civilization. there's a lot to work with here and Yolen does a great job. Oh yeah. And there are dragons!
Profile Image for shrug city.
626 reviews
July 14, 2019
Very like... classic mythic fantasy. The main male character is noble and strong, the main female character impetuous and bold, etc. Characterization in general is broad and larger than life, and the plot laid out in extremes. I finished it wanting to read the third one, but after a few days now I don't really feel the need.

Also: dragon content far less than previous novel, heterosexual content far more. Disappointing.
Profile Image for Kirsten Simkiss.
810 reviews3 followers
February 28, 2020
I’m calling it quits on this series for me. I made it 75 pages into this book and can’t for the life of me remember why I liked these as a kid. The main character is not an appealing protagonist, the dragons are decent but are forced to fight each other for sport like dog fights but legal, and the romance still seems pretty forced and strange. I don’t think this book series is for me and I can’t say I would recommend it to others.
Profile Image for Alys.
52 reviews
August 1, 2017
It's always weird re-reading books that were important to you when you were much younger, because it seldom has the same resonance again years later, even if you still enjoy it. This is still a good book, and I'm glad it's still in print, but it's certainly not a powerful one for the person I am now, rather than the person I was when I read it thirty-ish years ago.
118 reviews
September 1, 2018
I liked the first book better. I do tend to enjoy origin stories best, but this sequel got muddled with spy plots and things that detracted from character and motive. I had a few of those moments when I said to myself, "I can't believe that character would act like that." I will probably still read book number three, however, because I like the world and the first book so much.
Profile Image for Kate H.
1,679 reviews1 follower
November 18, 2019
I always enjoy Jane Yolen's books; I think she really knows how to craft a story and characters. The Pit Dragon Chronicles is one of my favorite series of hers and it definitely holds up over time. I do think the first couple books are the strongest and then it does tail off a bit after that. There are many dragon stories but this does not feel repetitive or similar to others.
214 reviews
November 29, 2020
A good sequel in that the canvas of the setting opens up as Jakkin is no longer in bond. The book focuses on his relationship with his dragon, but also includes a plot involving rebels and his friend Akki. Like the previous book, this is written for young adults, but the themes can be quite serious. In this case, death. Not light reading, and I would recommed this only for older children.
1,087 reviews
January 27, 2023
This was the second book in a trilogy (then 4 books) and I had a feeling it was, but decided to try it anyway. I did feel like I was missing some of the explanations of things but was able to follow along well enough. I wouldn’t mind reading more of them but it’s an older series so I doubt it. It’s not at the library any more. Good but felt like it was missing something.
4 reviews3 followers
September 21, 2017
Read this series (then only 3 books) when I was a kid back in middle school -- I absolutely loved every page. I plan on going back through this series eventually, especially since there's a new book (as of 2009); we'll see if I enjoy it as much as an adult.
1,066 reviews
October 22, 2017
These books went from being interesting but poorly written books about dragons to being uninteresting poorly books written about politics. So I quit and wikipedia'd the rest of the series. No thanks.
Profile Image for Steve Isom.
2 reviews1 follower
September 10, 2018
First book was very interesting. Book 2 was not as good and seemed to move away from what was fun about the first book. Got about 3/4 of the way through book 3 when I just gave up. It just wasn't fun or interesting anymore.
Profile Image for Aaron Anderson.
1,294 reviews14 followers
June 26, 2019
Ultimately I didn't really end up loving the main character in book 2 and 3. Just a 3star worth reading only once.

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