Review: The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood
Series: The Evertide #1
Published by DAW on May 3rd 2016
The debut novel from the acclaimed illustrator—a high fantasy adventure featuring dragons and deadly politics.
Maia and her family raise dragons for the political war machine. As she comes of age, she anticipates a dragon of her own to add to the stable of breeding parents. Her peaceful life is shattered when the Summer Dragon—one of the rare and mythical High Dragons—makes an appearance in her quiet valley. Political factions vie for control of the implied message, threatening her aspirations, her aerie, her entire way of life.
The bond between dragons and their riders is deep and life-long, and Maia’s desire for a dragon of her own to train, ride, fly, and love drives her to take a risk that puts her life at stake. She is swept into an adventure that pits her against the deathless Horrors, thralls of the enemy, and a faceless creature drawn from her fear. In her fight to preserve everything she knows and loves, she exposes a conspiracy, unearths an ancient civilization, and challenges her understanding of her world—and of herself.
The Summer Dragon is a wonderful tale full of dragons and mystery. The author, Todd Lockwood, is an established illustrator, and it shows with all of the wonderful illustrations included through out the book. Not to mention the absolutely gorgeous cover. I was immediately quite taken with the protagonist, Maia. She is a determined young woman, set on getting a dragon of her own. Her family runs a dragonry, so she has been raised with dragons and understands them. The special thing about dragons is they form a unique bond with one human, their rider. This bond is developed when the dragons are still young (called qits). This year, their dragonry has more qits than normal and both Maia and her brother are hoping to get one each, so they can then raise a new breeding pair (the dragons also bond with their mate at a young age). It seems the perfect plan, they are both of a good age to bond with a dragon, and a new breeding pair will help ensure dragon production in the future.
Dragon raising is a political business. Most of the qits are reserved for the war, to be handed over to the military. It’s a sad thing really. To see these wonderful dragons hatched and grow to send them off to an atmosphere where they are used as weapons, and most likely will not survive. When the convoy shows to get the new qits, things start to get interesting. Maia and her brother spot The Summer Dragon. This is a dragon that they believed was more myth than something real. The size and majesty of it makes the most impressive dragons they’ve known seem small and ordinary.
From this sighting, everything changes for Maia. What follows is a story full of mystery, suspense and intrigue. Along the way, Maia encounters many adversaries, human and unnatural. Horrors are unnatural beings made from pieces of people and dragons and the resulting creatures are extemely hard to kill. Kind of like zombies in dragon and rider form, the riders are actually melded to the dragons. They are terrifying and vicious. There is also another unnatural foe. One that is able to enter Maia’s mind and wage a battle that is fueled by her own fears and nightmares. And when Maia is not worried about these, there is also an invading army near by as well as people that are trying to overtake her family’s dragonry. There is so much going on an Maia is constantly at the center of it. I love her attitude and personality, she is a strong person who is determined to fight for what she believes is right.
The powers of deceit are ancient and prosper in the shadow of ignorance
The book also features a religious struggle for some of the characters. The accepted religion does not seem to accommodate some of the facts they have recently observed. The church wants to quiet and reports that would be contradictory to their beliefs, but trying to make something quiet doesn’t mean it goes away.
Lockwood proves he is able to create a vivid picture as strong with words as he can with pencils and paints. His illustrations through out the novel are a wonderful addition to the story. I guess it should not be surprising that Lockwood’s style of story telling is also quite visual, proving he can use words to shape pictures as well. He also gave some of the dragons (one in particular) wonderful personalities. I loved how dragons were portrayed as intelligent and able to communicate with their riders.
Overall, this was definitely an impressive debut, one that puts the sequel firmly on my to read list. If you are a fan of dragons and strong female protagonists, you can’t miss this one.
This review was originally posted on The Speculative Herald.