Thursday, 4 January 2018

Dragon Mage

Dragon Mage

by Ava Richardson

3 out of 5

To unite a fractured kingdom, a reluctant hero must rise.

Neill has been charged with the impossible task of bringing the Middle Kingdom together to fight the burgeoning threat posed by the rogue sorcerer Ansall and his dragon Zaxx. Neill longs for his old life as a mere foot soldier for his father responsible only for his family’s wellbeing, and is unsure about whether he is fit to lead an army. Neill’s contemplative nature forces him to consider every aspect of the problems he faces, but often makes it difficult for him to take action—and failure to act could mean the deaths of many.

Now, echoing Char and their dragon Paxala, his duty beckons him to lead the Dragon
Riders—and take his rightful place as king—but with doubt and new enemies creeping in, his resolve will be tested. When the mysterious Dark Prince arrives with an offer, Neill will have to make a decision that could change the course of history. As Ansall grows in strength by harnessing black magic, Neill must choose between his own desires and the welfare of the entire kingdom. Can he rise to the challenge before it’s too late?

Neill has overthrown the old order of Draconis monks, and set the dragons free from their old tyrant, Zaxx. Now, new enemies line up to challenge the new dragon academy.

I received a free copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
First of all, when I requested the book, I wasn't aware that this was the third and final instalment of the First Dragon Rider trilogy.
The good news is that it is all really easy to pick up, and you quickly become immersed in Richardson's fantasy world. But, I might have felt more invested in the characters, had I read the rest of the series.

The story starts with Neill and his friends, in the ruins of the monastery, tentatively working out what direction they will take, now they have overthrown the brutal Draconis Order.
There are mistakes to be made, and ambitions to work towards.

I like that these young recruits aren't letting tradition hold them back. They have fought for what they believe in, and now they are ready to follow their dreams to work with the dragons, and to encourage learning, rather than fear and submission.
They are keen to get going - sometimes a little too keen - jumping into decisions and actions too early, and putting themselves in danger.

Most of the story follows the rebuilding and reorganising of the new Dragon Academy, with Neill, his best friend Char, and dragon/mother hen Paxala.
There are still frictions within their group, as the older monks find it hard to change their ways, and respect these little lordlings.

I didn't like the main character Neill. I thought he was a whiny little twit.
I know, he had good reason - he's half-noble, half-gypsy, and was cast out of his home. His father kept distant, and (minor spoiler) dies early in the book. His older half-brothers are gits. And now, people are looking to him to lead the academy. Expecting him to have all the answers.

But every time he narrates, it was a repetitive cycle of him thinking he wasn't good enough, he didn't want to lead, he didn't want to make choices, he didn't want people looking at him, he didn't want to think about his future...
I wanted to slap him and tell him to stop whining and do something. Go live with his uncle and the gypsies, or go live with the dragons, or go be a hermit somewhere.

The sections where Char is our narrator are much stronger. She is capable and determined, and her connection with Paxala is really rather sweet.

Overall, this was an OK read. I might like it better, if I read the rest of the trilogy first.


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