Do you have a child who likes futuristic space novels? Are you looking for a tale packed with action? Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn is an adventure-driven science fiction book in the young adult category. At the heart of the story is an alliance between an orphaned 14-year-old human boy and an alien dragon roughly thirty years of age. Jack is trained as a thief and con artist and is focused on survival. Draycos is a poet-warrior with high and noble ethics whose major preoccupation is the protection of his race from annihilation by an evil foe.

With the persuasive, consistent example of Draycos as mentor, Jack matures as the story progresses. His character develops as he becomes more responsible, but he remains a clever, resourceful, wise-cracking guy. How can this not be a fun romp, with all kinds of gadgets, aliens galore, a mystery to solve, and people to save?

There is muted violence, including a distant space battle, Jack’s kidnapping, and some personal combat. The villain shoots innocent aliens, and Draycos later breaks the man’s neck as punishment for those murders. There is no gore. Jack tells Draycos that although he may have the right to punish criminals on his own world, on human worlds he must work within the law. Use your own judgment on whether these elements would be disturbing to your child.

I read this book as adult, and liked it so well I completed the entire “Dragonback” series of six books. My children read the series in middle school, and liked it enough to read it multiple times. The publisher lists the story for ages ten and up. I think middle school is about right.

You will want to read on too, for the saga has just begun with book one. However, incidents of suspense, fighting, warfare, and death continue in the series. It is carefully written not to glorify fighting or condone killing. Some of the books are fast paced; others are slower. The first and fifth (entitled Dragon and Judge) are my favorites.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.