Title: Dragon Called
Author: Ava Richardson
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Plot: In a kingdom that has fallen into chaos, one young woman—and her dragon—are thrust into the role of bringing balance to the land.
From the moment Dayie washed ashore as an infant, everyone in her tiny village treated her as… different. She didn’t belong, no matter how hard she tried. So when a vicious, invasive plant called Deadweed overruns her village, she’s blamed and sold to the Dragon Traders for fear of her powers and the mystery surrounding her origin.
After years of service to the ruthless Dragon Traders, Dayie wants her freedom. To repay her debt, Dayie steals a dragon egg. But she winds up with far more than she bargained for when her egg hatches before she can get it to them. Now she must hide her hotheaded young dragon Zarr or risk losing him: either to the Dragon Traders or the Deadweed that’s creeping ever southward.
When the Dragon Traders travel further south to evade capture and Deadweed attacks, Dayie meets a mysterious Dragon Rider named Akeem, who tells her magic is behind the spread of the Deadweed, and that she’s been bonded with Zarr—for life. Now Dayie faces a choice: give up her dragon for her freedom or take her place with Zarr in the Training Hall of Dagban. There, she may have the chance to avenge her parents’ deaths and solve the mystery of ever-spreading Deadweed.
Dayie’s destiny awaits, if she’s brave enough to follow it…
I’ve been reading some heavy-going books lately. Large-scale battles, violence, intense situations… I wanted something refreshing and light, and I always find a certain charm in Ava Richardson’s books.
I ought to stop reviewing them, really. They’re aimed at a younger audience, which means things I wouldn’t have noticed ten years ago grate on me now, and I have to remind myself that the intended reader wouldn’t necessarily pay attention to those moments.
But I love the bonds that each of her characters form, both with their fellow humans (enemies-to-friends is a very common theme) and with the dragons, and Dragon Called is no exception.
This time, we follow the adventures of Dayie, a slave who has a way with animals. When the dragon egg she steals hatches, Dayie realises this is her chance for a new life. Along with her previous-childhood bully – Nas – they join the training hall of the South, learning what it takes to be an esteemed dragon rider.
The work is hard, the instructors harder and Dayie is certain something isn’t right about the place. With the help of her friends and Akeem – a dragon handler in disguise – she investigates and learns that fear and force is not how to ride a dragon, but friendship and love.
“Yeah, I know about dragons!” I said, feeling suddenly very, very frustrated with him. Why was he treating me like someone less than him – like a girl.
With the threat of Deadweed drawing closer (a magical plant that destroys all in its path) Dayie finds her courage to do what she thinks is right.
As with other Ava Richardson books, it focuses on a centre group of people from various backgrounds, with different skill-sets and ambitions. I found Dayie a little irritating to be honest – she believes she is right and is stubborn in that belief. Nas shows how far a character can change and I see Akeem (really the leader of the Wild Company of dragon riders, in disguise to try and change things) as being a central point to future books.
The book has a steady pace and a neat climax at the end, with a good build of tension before that moment. It is an engaging story and has some important messages scattered throughout about the value of friendship and loyalty, making it perfectly aimed at a teenage reader. It’s fun, it’s tense and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
My trouble with these books is the inconsistencies. Details don’t always match up. Characters change on the flip of a coin (Dayie was nearly executed, followed within a few pages of being a valuable asset) and events can be a little too convenient at times.
It can be hard to empathise with the main character when she’s brash and rude to others, with no clear evidence what she is basing her opinion on other than acting a little like a spoilt child.
A fun book if you want an afternoon curled up reading about dragons. While I can’t rave about it, and certainly can’t take it seriously, I still found it an enjoyable read where I genuinely wanted to know what would happen.