Age of Fire Book One
by E.E. Knight
It\’s a story from a dragon\’s perspective, and that\’s the main enjoyment I got out of it. The young dragon hatches in a secluded cave guarded by his parents and immediately pitches into a battle for survival- the male hatchlings fight for dominance and one ousts all others from the nest. The young dragon then grows with its sisters under the watchful eye of parents, learning dragon lore and practicing hunting skills on slugs and bats. Before he is old enough to venture into the outside world, their cave is attacked by a band of dwarves, and the dragon barely escapes with one of his siblings. He embarks on a long trek- at first attempting to return to the cave and discover what happened to his family, but then gets separated from his sibling and is just scrambling to survive. He falls in with some wolves, then gets caught by elves and escapes, then makes a deal to guard a caravan of traders, then goes on a search to find an ancient dragon who might tell him why their race is dying out. Eventually ends up in the company of humans- and part of a tangled confusing war- all the different hominids in this world (elves, dwarves, humans and creatures called blighters) are fighting each other, but one group seems to be overpowering the rest because it controls dragons to battle for them. Our dragon seeks them out, hoping to discover what enabled one man to command the dragons, but he finds much more than he\’d bargained for.
Well- there\’s a lot I liked about this book, and a lot I didn\’t. I found this author\’s idea of dragon physiology really intriguing- especially the main character who was different from the other dragons, being born without protective scales. While others immediately saw him as a weakling or a freak, he found his own strength and was often quite clever and bold. I was just as curious as the protagonist to find out how the other dragons were being held in thrall, and the part where he infiltrates the enemy island was pretty interesting. But all the middle of the book- what a slog. It seemed that any part where the dragon was accompanying hominids got to be very dull and boring. I just did not care about their factions and battles and different cultures. The conversations are often awkward, the characters\’ reactions to things feel flat, and the pacing is sometimes odd. I like these dragons, but the execution felt a bit poor. In spite of that, I\’m moving on to the second book in the series, there is something about the story that makes me want to find out what happens.
Oh, and if this might bother some readers- there\’s a lot of death. The dragon eats children, bites the head off foes, tears apart animal prey and so on. It\’s really quite brutal and bloody- which you\’d expect from a story about the dragon\’s viewpoint- but also very tame for all that- the descriptions never really made me feel squeamish or horrified- just oh, so that guy lost his head too? Moving on! which was part of the disconnect I felt through the whole thing . . .
Rating: 2/5 371 pages, 2005