Life on planets Moros and Austar I; Planet of the Warlord, by Douglas Hill. New York: Atheneum. 128 pp. $8.95. Dragon's Blood, by Jane Yolen. New York: Delacorte Press. 234 pp. $11.95.
Keill Randor is the last legionary of Moros, sworn to avenge the destruction of his planet. In this final book of a quartet, he does complete his mission, with numerous explicit battles and adventures.Skip to next paragraph
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The cover depicts Randor as looking remarkably like Clint Eastwood, and the behavior in the book is similar to Eastwood's movies. There is continuous action , and Randor is the cool, controlled hero. In describing his approach to the final battle, the author uses these words: ''The awesome, irresistible battle fury of a legionary. It was never the blind, foaming fury of a berserker. It was cold, defined, controlled. . . . It was as if Keill had released a ravening beast within himself. Yet the beast that was his battle rage was kept on a tight rein, disciplined and directed, a formidable extra source of power during his plunge into the last battle.''
The book is definitely an adventure story that will attract readers, because it's short and moves rapidly. It's far more than that, however. The characterization of Randor goes beyond the surface to create a person you root for, not just a puppet. Glr, the gauzy alien who is Randor's companion, is equally well drawn. The story operates on two levels -- a rousing space opera, and a morality tale of the conflict of good and evil.
The writing is beautifully erudite, and the prose polished.
Though this is the last of the ''Legionary'' quartet, the final words give us hope for more adventures of Keill and Glr: ''That's what we'll do. We'll go and look at the universe.'' And I'm sure many of us will go with them.
Jane Yolen is a consummate storyteller, one who creates vivid images and characters who come alive. In ''Dragon's Blood,'' she has created a new planet, Austar IV, and peopled it with masters and bond slaves who are the remnants of a penal colony.
One way to become a master is to steal a dragon's egg and raise it to become a fighting dragon. This thievery is accepted but not easily accomplished, however; it forms the basis for the tale of Jakkin. Jakkin is a young bond slave who has persevered through numerous trials and emerged with his dragon triumphant at the Games. The tale ends with a promise of more to come.
The only flaw in this well-told chronicle is the nagging similarity to Anne McCaffrey's Pern books. Yolen tells her own tale, but there is a sense of deja vu.