eARC Review: Dragons of Dark by Ava Richardson
As both dragons and Riders struggle to return to the ways of old, from before the land fell into darkness, the evil king undermines their every move with spies and sabotage. Bower knows their efforts are doomed without a final assault against the palace, but Saffron has doubts. Risking everything in a single attack isn’t what concerns her—it’s what victory may mean.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Dragons of Dark
Series: Upon Dragon's Breath #3
Author: Ava Richardson
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Publisher: Relay Publishing Ltd.
Page Count: 254
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: Joemel Requeza
My Rating: ★★★
”They fear me and my power, even as their hearts were so recently shaken by the sight of so many dragons. But their fear of me is the key. I will show them that dragons are just beasts. Monsters. Things which eat flesh, and drink the life from them, and then these people will hate the dragons much more than they can ever hate me. They think me a monster, but all of that is going to change.”
King Enric Maddox has been the feared rule of Torvald for a long time. Lately, however, that rule has been threatened by the reappearance of dragons and dragon sympathizers. Using the energy from his advisors, he strikes fear into the hearts of the citizens by using dark magic, making sure they see dragons as the enemy.
Since the recent battle between King Enric and the dragons, Saffron has had difficulty sleeping. Losing Rylan during the battle haunts her dreams. The threat of her magic and the connection it could have to Enric’s, ensnares her thoughts. Bower’s trust in Saffron wanes, as he is leary of the Maddox magic she possesses, and what it is capable of.
As the rightful heir to the throne, Bower must make amends with the Three Rivers Clan in order to get their help to pursue King Enric. Mother Gorlas, the wise woman of the clan, instructs him that he must seek out the Stone Tooth clan—the natural rivals of the Three Rivers. Likewise, the dragon queen Ysix—Jaydra’s sister—consults with Saffron and tells her that she must work to change the perspective of the humans towards the dragons. Still fearful of them, the new dragon riders have difficulty trusting the dragons, and seeing them more than just beasts.
As battles between the king’s merciless Iron Guard and the clans ensues, Saffron and Bower must work with the clans, dragons, and each other in order to overthrow the tyrant King Enric.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
”This isn’t a rebellion,” Bower was suddenly passionate. “We are ousting a dictator. Not overthrowing a rightful king.”
This is one of those times when writing a review is truly difficult. While I didn’t necessarily dislike this book, I didn’t fall in love with it either. I felt throughout the entire Upon Dragon’s Breath that I was searching more depth overall—but never really got it. Character development still occurs, but it is accompanied by a feeling of vagueness and without much drive.
Dragons of Dark adds some new elements throughout which helps to spice up the read. Steampunk vibes, along with numerous action/battle scenes pepper the pages which makes the reading engaging.
Set mainly in the surrounding lands of Torvald, Dragons of Dark has a little more variety in scenery. The group travels into treacherous areas in order to reach the Stone Tooth clan. However, the land itself still lacked much description, making it difficult to get a sense of where the characters were at and giving scene changes a confusing and “rushed” sensation.
Pacing & Readability
The pacing is consistently faster than that in the previous two installments. There is a lot more happening on all fronts, making the plot flow from one scene to the next without much contemplation or hesitation in between.
Point-Of-View & Characters
The point-of-view follows suite with the previous two books and continues to change from Saffron to Bower’s perspective. I liked how this remained the same because it helped me continue to see the character growth with both of the main characters.
While there isn’t a large shift in her character overall, Saffron does encounter the majority of the challenges throughout this book. Coping with the evil Maddox magic, Saffron drinks a medicinal remedy to dull her ability to call upon the magic. The side effects, however, cause her to lose her ability to communicate with the dragons. Not only does she need to deal with that, but she must also face the reality of her origins, relations, and role.
”No, Saffron. I am not your mother. I am Queen Zenema, and you are the one who will unite the old and the young, the dragons and the humans again. You will rule them from the air above and the land below. There is no shame in it. You are not King Enric, and he is not you. You are your own.”
Saffron discovers that her anger fuels the magic within her, making it uncontrollable at times. Luckily, the ties she had to her dragon hoard and to Bower were strong enough to help her through the toughest of challenges. Their guidance helped her face King Enric, but to also face the threat within herself.
Bower serves as the secondary protagonist throughout this series. I felt that his character made some progression throughout Dragons of Kings but plateaued in Dragons of Dark. In fact, I remained rather indifferent towards him. Still gaining the trust of the dragons and the clans he leads into battle, he constantly plays (a rather easy game of) “tug-of-war” with his self-confidence and ability to lead as the future king. Despite his efforts, I found everything too easy for him and didn’t feel that he really encountered adversity along the way. It made his main issue too simple, solvable and not really an issue. His main opposition was himself, as he doubted himself more than anyone else.
”These people put their faith in me, and I failed.”
“It was you who figured out a way to escape the trap, Bower. It was you who managed to destroy those Iron Guard. Why are you doing this to yourself? Why are you so convinced that you are going to fail?”
King Enric Maddox, the elusive antagonist, and dictator-king of Torvald remains rather underdeveloped. I was really hoping to see more of him in this installment, seeing how he is so utterly terrible, but he sits on the back-burner most of the book until the culmination in the end.
Jaydra, Zenema, and Ysix all played important roles particularly in this installment as mentors to both Saffron and Bower. Without their guidance (and random knowledge at times) Saffron and Bower never would have made it as far as they did. While they weren’t the main characters of this series, they remain to be my favorites, as their personalities are well-developed and interesting (I mean, they’re dragons!)
⇒ Good vs. Evil
The battle between good vs. evil is always at the forefront of this series. King Enric, the dictator king who stole the throne, uses his evil magic to do as he pleases. Saffron and Bower must gain the trust of two different races in order to dethrone him, and place the rightful king on the throne.
Anger was a key emotion focused on throughout this series. While it wasn’t realized at first, anger was the fuel to the fire that made Saffron’s magic uncontrollable.
”This anger seemed to come with the power, and the more I used magic, the worse I felt. My anger always there, under the surface, and I was terrified that once I let it spill out, it would wash away the person that I had been, and I would become just like Enric.”
Saffron had to learn how to address and control her anger in order to harness the magic in her blood.
”They’ve rallied to you because of what happened to Kingswood. Life can’t get worse for them, the evil king has already burned down their homes, and they have already lost loved ones. They’ve come to you to try and start again. To find some hope after the horror that has been visited upon them.”
Time after time, friendship shows up between these characters. Without help and support from one another, they never would have made it very far.
Things that I liked:
⇒ The main characters, Saffron and Bower, also Jaydra, are easy to like and relate to.
⇒ The theme of friendship and how it’s demonstrated. That’s right—Bower and Saffron remain friends only. This is a romance-free series!
⇒ It’s a relatively clean read.
Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ World building and sense-of-location still lacked greatly.
⇒ The climax of this book, along with the climax of the entire series just wasn’t enough.
⇒ The “major” plot twists were too predictable.
⇒ I found the prologue told from King Enric’s perspective to be confusing. Perhaps this was because I may have forgotten some details from Dragons of Wild.
⇒ Bower’s character and his insistence on how he wasn’t “good enough” to rule.
While I really did enjoy this series, I felt that it lacked personable traits to pull me in. Instead of being fully immersed in this world, I always felt like I was reading this story. I want to experience it, too. It’s a bummer because I think that this series has some great potential, but I had difficulty with really connecting to it in the end. The plot is creative in its own way but is also similar in several ways to other books in the same genre. To put my feelings into one world, this book felt “familiar” on many fronts, and needed more specification to stand out from the rest.
Vulgarity: Minimal – 4 words total.
Sexual content: None!
Violence: Moderate – there are several battle scenes throughout that include some gore.