Book Review: Dragons of Kings by Ava Richardson
On the eve of battle, Bower will have to fulfill a mystical prophecy and become the leader he was born to be, or risk his future kingdom falling apart. Surrounded on all sides by deadly foes, he must face not only the evil king, but his deep doubts about himself.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Series: Upon Dragon's Breath #2
Author: Ava Richardson
Publication Date: December 30, 2016
Publisher: Relay Publishing Ltd.
Page Count: 214
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: Joemel Requeza
My Rating: ★★★
This synopsis may contain spoilers!
Bower, being the rightful heir to the throne, is the bridge between the world of dragons and men. After a slim escape from King Enric, Bower has taken up residence with Saffron among her clutch of dragons. In the time he is there, it is the dragons’ duty to teach him about magic, and what it means to be a king to both humans and dragons. Not understanding much of magic herself, Saffron decides to take Bower to visit the old Hermit. Upon arriving, they find the Hermit mortally wounded, and discover that the king knows the two of them are on the island as they were his attackers. The Hermit instructs them to find the Three-Rivers clans before he succumbs to his injuries.
”Find what I’ve hidden for you, my king. Take back what is yours by right. Get to the clans. Stop Enric. Trust each other.”
Bower and Saffron meet with the dragons to discuss what they are to do about King Enric. Bower, being the rightful heir, must show his worth to the dragons before they are willing to back him up. In order to gain their trust, the dragons send him on a quest to make friends between the dragons and island people–which is not a simple task. There has been a long-spanning dispute between the two races.. The local shaman speaks of messengers from the king arriving on the island, looking for the two of them, then reveals that she plotted to lure them out so they could be captured. Before Bower is able to enlist the people in a peace treaty with the dragons, the islanders are forced to take refuge in Den Mountain with the dragons from a raid the king planned with the shaman.
Bower helps to lead the dragon swarm in a fight against the king’s boats. Defeating them, Bower instructs the villagers and dragons that they need to find a different place to live, now that the king knows where the dragons were residing. He and Saffron then leave the island astride Jaydra, to seek out the Three-Rivers clan of dragon riders. On the way, Saffron uses the opportunity to help Bower develop his riding skills, along with her abilities with magic.
The group finds the Three-Rivers clan, but they aren’t who they imagined. They do not live in harmony with their dragons, and treat them as wild animals. When their leader Ryland learned that Bower is the rightful king of Torvald, he challenged Bower to mount one of their black dragons to prove his dominance. Bower realizes that the dragons are nocturnal, and frees one, trying to make the wild creature realize he’s not trying to hurt it. The dragon, out of anger, knocks Ryland from his dragon and the two dragons escape. Out of fear, Saffron uses her magic to keep Bower safe from the feral dragon, and ends up injuring some and scaring the dragons off.
The town is raided by the Iron Guard. Saffron discovers that Ryland doesn’t have any other dragons as they are all feral and unrideable. Saffron, Bower, and Jaydra do what they can to hold the Iron Guard back, but when the king’s magic stops them and tries to call Saffron back to him. In desperate need of aid, Bower sends out a call to all dragons. The brood from Den Mountain, along with dragons from several other surrounding locations hear him, and come to help. As Saffron fights the king with magic, Bower focuses on guiding the dragon warriors.
Exhausted after the magic battle with the Iron Guard, Bower and Saffron are held and watched by the Three Rivers Clan. The red dragons that came to Bower’s aid confronted them, but were unable to share their thoughts with humans. Ysix and the rest of Jaydra’s brood arrive and show both the red dragons and the Three Rivers clan that dragons and humans have an ancient bond, and acknowledge Bower as the rightful king. Ysix is able to help repair relations between the humans and some of the black dragons. On the same side, the dragons choose their riders, and they learn how to work together through training.
One evening, Saffron is acting strange and turns in early. Bower, worried about her strange reactions, goes to check on her. He finds her in a nightmarish state, and is dragged into the depths of her dream, where Enric infiltrates her mind and tries to persuade Saffron again to join him. She is able to break from his grasps with the help of Jaydra, but now the king knows their location.
A massive battle ensues between the dragons and the king’s Iron Guard. King Enric tries to force Saffron to come to him. In her anger, she recklessly uses her magic and creates a massive storm. With the distraction of the storm, and the valiant sacrifice by Ryland, they are able to escape the king’s clutches.
1) Dragons of Wild: ★★★½
Initially, I was slow to get back into this series, and remembering all of the details. I let far too much time pass from when I read Dragons of Wild, which is a shame. What I found when I jumped back into this world, however, was how much I appreciated this series. It’s clean, it has straight-forward intentions, the characters are wholesome, and it is a refreshing deviation from the typical YA fantasy read.
Dragons of Kings is set in the surrounding lands of Torvald. While there is detail given of the land, it is not in depth, and somewhat difficult to follow where the characters actually are. More of the world building comes into play when the reader is introduced to the Three-Rivers Clan, and see some of their perspectives, especially towards dragons.
Pacing & Readability
The pacing is moderate but remains consistent throughout the entire book. While this book is easy to read, I had a difficult time staying engaged with it as not a lot happened. The distance between “point A” to “point B” could be summed up in just a few sentences.
Point-of-View & Characters
The point-of-view remains the same as Dragons of Wild, and shifts between Saffron and Bower. The reader is privy to moderately deeper ruminations of the characters this time around. I felt that I got a better picture of Bower’s character overall.
“I had been raised with books, not with battles.”
For the first time, Bower is challenged by the dragons to see if he is worthy enough to be the dragon king. He knows he is the true heir to the throne, but struggles immensely with the responsibility that comes with it.
Saffron’s character was rather flat in this sequel. While she has a few challenges thrown her way, her character didn’t react as much as I would have expected in the situations. If it wasn’t for Jaydra helping her along, I fear Saffron would be nearly unremarkable.
We are introduced to a few new characters (both dragons and humans) in this installment, but these too are barely explored. Ryland, the leader of the Three-Rivers clan is briefly introduced, then made into a petty criminal with his acts towards the black dragons. (view spoiler)[While I feel his character tried to be redeemed by his sacrifice in the end, he simply didn’t do much to move the plot forward. (hide spoiler)]
King Enric, the antagonist of the series, is probably the most consistent character of all. I felt that as the villain, he delivered what was expected of him.
⇒ Good vs. Evil:
The battle between good and evil is the central theme through this series. Saffron and Bower, the representatives of good, fight against King Enric, an evil sorcerer king who has tried (and mostly succeeded) in wiping everyone’s minds clean of dragons and history in general. As I stated in my review for Dragons of Wild, this series parallels Fahrenheit 451, in the idea that knowledge (books) are dangerous. This is exactly the world that King Enric is trying to enforce and control, which truly is a terrifying goal for an antagonist.
This theme is also applicable for Saffron as she battles with her Maddox magic.
“If it is magic for human and dragons to share a mind, is it magic that also breaks our ties? Or is it the lack of magic? And if there is a place where Jaydra and Saffron are one thing in our hearts and minds, is there also a place where Saffron and Enric are one?”
Unsure of its functioning, Saffron doesn’t know if the magic is good, or evil like that of King Enric’s. It causes a rift between her and Jaydra, and Jaydra must protect herself from being influenced by the king when Saffron uses her magic. There wasn’t a conclusion to this issue, and assume it will be made clear in the sequel, Dragons of Dark.
⇒ Coming of age:
This story was largely centered around Bower, and him coming to terms with the fact that he is the rightful heir to the throne. Not only that, he has the ability to unite the dragons and humans once again. Throughout the entire story, he is seeking his worth, understanding, ability, and influence. Being one that loved to hit the books, he hadn’t had any experience with leading others. It was a trait that he had to learn and develop for his own.
⇒ Unity/Coming Together:
Another underlying theme was bringing unity between the dragons and humans in order to fight King Enric. After a long time of having little-to-no ties, Bower must word in tandem with the dragons to gain their respect and trust, as well as be a good advocate for them to the humans.
Things that I liked:
⇒ The dragons and humans learning to work together.
⇒ The diversity of the dragons. This is more of a personal point, but I loved learning about all of the variations of dragons, and how different they are!
⇒ How clean of a read this is!
Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ The plot pacing was a bit slow. I found myself having to reread areas because I became distracted and didn’t pay enough attention.
⇒ I still had some difficulty really engaging myself in the characters’ stories. I felt that they and several other aspects of the plot needed more depth.
While I really wanted to like this series more, I feel like there’s an outstretched hand, halting my progression in immerse myself further. I’d like to get further into this world, but need more depth in the characters in order to do so. I’m hoping Dragons of Dark will fulfill my hopes for this series because I think it really has potential to be great!
Sexual content: None.
Violence: While there are several fight scenes, there is no gore.