Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui Sutherland

Clay and his four young dragonet friends have lived their entire lives hidden away under the mountain, being trained for their eventual destiny: to end the dragon war among the various groups of dragons in Pyrrhia, the dragon-inhabited land in this intriguing story of dragonets, prophecy and coming of age. Each of the dragon tribes has a queen ruler, except the Sandwings, who have three sisters fighting for control of the tribe. Other dragon tribes have taken sides in the Sandwings’ war, so the entire land of Pyrrhia is at war and has been for quite a long time. It’s kind of like World War I Europe with all the intertwined alliances and treaties, except with dragons.

The Dragonet Prophecy, the first book in a projected series about the “dragonets of destiny”, tells the story from the point of view of Clay, a Mudwing dragon who, despite being the biggest and possibly the most talented fighter of the five dragonets of destiny, has a heart for peace and non-violence. That’s not to say that the story itself is non-violent; there are several complaints on Amazon about the book being too violent for the intended age group. I think the appropriate age group is about 10 and up, and for better or for worse, most 10 year olds in our culture are accustomed to the level of violence in The Dragonet Prophecy (dragons eating prey, including humans, and dragons fighting other dragons).

There’s not much of a theme here or underlying subtext. Maybe the story is about how difficult it is to make peace in the midst of war and warlike dragons. Or maybe it’s about coming of age, and finding your parents, and moving on from there. However, not every story has to be about Big Ideas. Some can just reference the Big Themes and rely on plot and characters to carry most of the weight. The Dragonet Prophecy is that second kind of novel.

I thought this book was a promising start to a somewhat unconventional and unpredictable story. The world-building was good, and there’s lots of room for more surprises as readers find out more about the cultures and habits of the various tribes of dragons in Pyrrhia. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series, The Lost Heir, due out in January, 2013. It’s told from the viewpoint of Tsunami, a SeaWing dragonet who, accompanied by her fellow dragonets of destiny, goes to find her parents underwater in the SeaWing kingdom.

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