Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Dragonet Prophecy

The Dragonet Prophecy
by Tui T. Sutherland
Recommended Ages: 11+

Now that I've read this first book in the "Wings of Fire" series, I totally want to read them all. It starts with a handsomely illustrated map of Pyrrhia, a world ruled by dragons, and a guide to the different kinds of dragons making up that world. Be advised, humans in this book are depicted as puny, no-account vermin, only a little more dangerous than other prey species to the point-of-view characters (you know, dragons). And as a rule, dragons aren't very nice people. In fact, the dragons of Pyrrhia have been tearing each other to shreds for 20 years now, all because of a three-way succession crisis in one of the kingdoms, or rather queendoms – the SandWings, whose last queen was assassinated by a scavenger (i.e., human). Her three daughters, Burn, Blister and Blaze, all want the throne, and the other dragon kingdoms have mostly taken sides between them in a war that seems like it won't end before all of dragonkind has been brought to its knees. But there's a prophecy that says five dragons, hatched on one particular night, will bring peace.

Because of that prophecy, five dragonets born on that night have been raised in secrecy. They've never been outside the cave they hatched in, which makes sense because many dragons would kill them on sight if they knew that Clay, Tsunami, Sunny, Glory and Starfire are the "dragonets of destiny." Still two years short of the age when they're supposed to change the world, the five dragonets decide to escape in order to save one of them whose life is in peril. But now they're all in peril, taken captive by the queen of the SkyWings and condemned to fight other dragons to the death in her arena. Then, Queen Scarlet's ally, would-be SandWing queen Burn, comes for a visit and insists on hastening the dragonets' demise. Somehow, everything depends on Clay – a big MudWing who has never had much success bringing out his inner monster – finding a way for his friends to escape their fate.

Clay is a wonderful character. Strangely, for a dragon, he cares about others, even members of other dragon tribes, and is so protective of his nestmates that he would put himself in harm's way for them. He also has powers he doesn't understand – including a power over a young killer named Peril, whose merest touch is death to almost anyone else. Clay's fondest wish is to find his parents, from whom he was taken while yet in the egg. But while his quest is not destined to bring him much satisfaction, it does lead to important discoveries. Already, you get a sense that these dragonets might just have it in them to bring peace to their world. And that's without even mentioning the fact that Tsunami is a SeaWings princess ... Starfire, a member of the mysterious NightWings ... Sunny, a not-quite-normal specimen of the SandWings tribe ... and Glory, of the neutral and not very highly regarded RainWings, has tricks up her sleeve nobody expected, too.

This is the first of (so far) 13 books in the "Wings of Fire" series by a Venezuelan-born author who also writes under several pseudonyms. One of them is Heather Williams, not to be confused with the same pen-name used by romance novelist Vella Munn (a.k.a. Dawn Flindt). Tui T.'s Heather Williams is credited with a couple of "Little House on the Prairie" sequels, Nellie Oleson Meets Laura Ingalls and Farmer Boy Goes West. As either Rob Kidd or T.T. Sutherland, she has authored several "Pirates of the Caribbean" novels, as well as junior novelizations of the Disney films Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, A Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland. (The last two are examples of a literary niche that makes me see red: books based on movies that were themselves based on books.) As Tamara Summers, she wrote the romance novels He's With Me, Save the Date and Never Bite a Boy on the First Date. As Eva Gray, she wrote an installment in the "Tomorrow Girls" franchise, Run for Cover. She also shares the pseudonym Erin Hunter with three other authors in a whole slew of "Warriors" series, featuring heroic cats; I stuck that link up there so I don't have to try and count them. Under her own name (spelled out), she has also written the "Avatars" trilogy (starting with So This Is How It Ends), eight "Pet Trouble" books (from Runaway Retriever to Dachshund Disaster), the "Menagerie" trilogy (co-authored with Kari H. Sutherland), a couple "Wings of Fire" spinoff series, the standalone novel This Must Be Love, several picture books (plus one under yet another pseudonym, shared with her co-author), an installment in the multi-author "Spirit Animals" series (Against the Tide) and a non-fiction book, Who Was Harry Houdini? – Whew!

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