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Dragons Come to Space in This Timothy Zahn Sci-Fi Thriller

A 14-year-old con becomes the host of an endangered dragon—and embarks on his most perilous undertaking yet.

timothy zahn dragon and thief

In his six-book Dragonback series, Timothy Zahn removes dragons from the realm of fantasy fiction and places them inside a thrilling sci-fi universe. The first installment, Dragon and Thief, introduces readers to Jack Morgan—a "reformed" teenage con with few people in his corner—and the reptilian creature whose survival rests in his hands.

Trained in the art of thievery and deception by his Uncle Virgil, 14-year-old Jack doesn’t exactly have a great reputation. It comes as no surprise that he's been blamed for a recent crime—though, for once, he's actually innocent. As law enforcement closes in, Jack must go into hiding on a different planet, where he'll wait for the backlash to subside. He'll be safe but not entirely alone—his uncle will still be reachable via a special communication clip.

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  • Photo Credit: Cover of the 2015 paperback edition of "Dragon and Thief"

Everything changes when a spaceship crashes nearby. The sole survivor is Draycos—a K’da dragon warrior—whose species has become the target of a mass extinction plot. But these aren’t your average dragons. The K’da are actually symbiotic, requiring a host for their ongoing survival. In exchange, they offer protection to their host, manifesting as a badass tattoo.

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The K’da and their allies, the Shontine, are desperate to find a sanctuary far from their enemy, the Valaghua. Even more pressing, of course, is Draycos’ need for a new host—and he’s found the perfect candidate in Jack. They eventually strike up a bargain: If Jack will physically bond with Draycos and join the fight against the Valaghua, Draycos will help restore Jack to everyone's good graces. What ensues is a rip-roaring ride through space, as the new friends not only try to save the K’da but also evade the people who want the criminal Uncle Virgil—and, by association, Jack—dead. 

The following excerpt of Dragon and Thief takes place just after Draycos chose an unsuspecting Jack as his human host. In the aftermath, Jack must come to terms with his new circumstances, and he learns about Draycos, the K’Da, and the challenge facing them.

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Click here to read an excerpt of Dragon and Thief, and then download the book.

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